Territorial Approach for Sustainable Livelihoods - Brief Description


The Territorial Approach for Sustainable Livelihoods is a people centred approach that aims to increase the sustainability of poor people’s livelihoods, especially in a post-conflict or post-disaster setting. The approach seeks to build upon the assets that communities have, to develop and strengthen these in the short-term through cash-for-work and food-for-work measures while simultaneously developing additional income and employment opportunities in the medium and long-term. In the short-term a labour intensive project is selected (termed a backbone) where cash for work or food for work provides employment for 1-2 years.  Typical backbone projects include rehabilitation measures of productive infrastructure (i.e. access roads, irrigation facilities, marketing facilities, re-forestation, etc.).

The approach is intended to support two basic types of intervention that communities and households undertake to build up their assets and reduce their levels of poverty. ‘Practical interventions’ enable low-income households to build their livelihood assets. This will include the cash for work along the backbone projects as well as the income and employment generating support projects. An important part in the process is capacity development of the communities and households, including social / community mobilisation. ‘Strategic interventions’ are directed toward the vulnerability context. They work toward the goal of social and economic change at the systemic level. This includes building capacity of the local self-governance system, the sub-national (e.g. district and provincial) councils and administrations as well as with government line agencies, non-governmental organisations and the private sector.

The territorial approach is based upon the interaction of:

  • Backbone projects: where assistance is concentrated for a specific period of time – for 2-3 years. These central projects are selected from the existing sub-national development plans (e.g. from district, provincial or regional development plans).
  • Complemental projects: Income and employment generating projects have to be developed as complemental projects to the backbone to ensure longer-term and sustainable improvements in the livelihoods.
  • Resources provided via two types of sub-national funds: Provincial Development Fund and District Development Fund.

Photo 1: Road construction as a “backbone”