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Social Protection, Livelihoods and Poverty Reduction

People living in vulnerable contexts are often the most disadvantaged, requiring different packages of support to improve their quality of life. We take pride in making the most up-to-date and appropriate advice accessible to the poorest and most excluded groups in society, ranging from micro-finance, enterprise development, agricultural extension and technology, to rural democracy. Our work has included projects providing direct assistance to rural communities, some living in extremely fragile environments, in Kyrgyzstan, Nepal, Pakistan and Ecuador.

Understanding poverty is not simple.  How people make a living is complex.  Individuals use a variety of strategies based on assets (social, natural, financial, human and physical) that are available to them.  Their strategies are influenced by external factors such as social norms, the ‘rules of the game’, policies and the context in which they live e.g. a changing natural environment, geographical remoteness, living in conflict, living in urban areas.  Strategies may not be static and may have to adapt and change over time.  Livelihoods approaches provide a way to understand these complexities and a basis for people-centred poverty reduction.

People-centred approaches enable practitioners and policy-makers to think at the household level and to target aid delivery more effectively – providing  packages of support or offering choice that is appropriate to individual households or the communities in which they live.  This could mean support that is specifically targeted at female-headed households, the most vulnerable or packages that are multi-faceted to target both men and women.

Seventy-five per cent of poor people live in rural areas, dependent on agriculture and natural resources for their livelihoods.  Agricultural growth contributes to poverty reduction by improving rural incomes, utilising the productive capacity of poor people’s land and labour assets, and providing food for both urban and rural poor.  Agriculture in developing countries currently faces a number of challenges such as climate change and increasing population density; significant gender inequalities in access to key productive assets; high standards of food quality and safety required by developed economies; and changing demographic patterns (caused by HIV/AIDS and labour migration). 


HTSPE works to ensure that the poorest and most vulnerable people in society are supported in their attempts to move out of poverty and that mechanisms are in place to protect those who are most at risk.  Our approach makes use of differentiated livelihoods analysis to ensure that the poorest and most vulnerable groups in society, such as women, the elderly and minority groups, are the focus of this support.

In supporting livelihoods our work has covered: 

  • agriculture, livestock and fisheries;
  • business services to promote livelihoods diversification (for example seed production) and non-farm incomes;
  • markets, including value chains;
  • property rights, especially land;
  • food security, including social safety nets such as school feeding programmes;
  • natural resources management, including forestry;
  • trade, including international agricultural trade;
  • urban and industrialised populations – including social security systems and minimum welfare-at-work standards; and
  • governance – ensuring that public services such as agricultural extension operate to the benefit of those in need, at every level of government and society. 

Global: Livelihoods Resource Centre

Designed to complement DFID systems this three-year HTSPE-managed programme provides a menu of technical and support services that enable DFID teams to manage their work programmes more effectively. A range of tailor-made services are provided through the LRC web portal and an e-bulletin facilitates knowledge-sharing within DFID and the wider development community. The LRC also responds to direct requests from DFID for expertise or to undertake specific assignments, research or other support activities. LRC themes comprise:

  • agriculture, livestock and fisheries;
  • natural resources, including forestry;
  • non-farm income and employment; markets and value chains;
  • trade;
  • business services;
  • technology, knowledge and innovation;
  • property rights, especially land;
  • food security and vulnerability; and
  • governance.

Through the framework arrangement HTSPE has managed LRC contracts totalling in excess of £6.8 million.

See more details in the links below.

Kyrgyz Republic: Sustainable Livelihoods for Livestock Producing Communities

This process project helped to create economic coping strategies and income-generating activities, which can be exploited on a sustainable basis by livestock-producing communities in selected remote mountain areas.  HTSPE worked towards post-project sustainability and a not-for-profit organisation, the “Rural Development Centre” comprising Kyrgyz team members, was established as an entity to provide similar services in the long term.  The key outputs of the project covered:

  • creation of mechanisms for the development and support of sustainable income generation which were tested and disseminated in pilot communities;
  • improved access to services for small scale rural producers;
  • capacity building of national staff to support livelihood and community development initiatives;
  • capacity building of community groups and organisations, and improved motivation of local government, to respond to development needs of rural communities; and
  • dissemination, including influencing the design and implementation of a large, nationwide Village Investment Project funded by the Word Bank.

Uganda: Agricultural Livelihoods Recovery Programme

The aim of this EC-funded project was to identify interventions that would contribute to the recovery of the agricultural livelihoods of returned Displaced Persons in the war-affected northern districts of Uganda. This project analysed the necessary building blocks that would allow returnee farmers and receiving communities to restart production, market their output and initiate the economic revitalisation of return areas.

The project then suggested possible investment elements as part of a comprehensive recovery programme. These included:

  • Assistance with land clearing as returnees would be going back to abandoned and overgrown plots. To avoid the risk of misuse/capture of land clearing services, schemes involving the provision of vouchers for labour or mechanised land clearance were investigated.
  • Forestry/tree planting. Returnees put increased stress on the natural resource base and the mission considered subsidies and technical advice for commercial planters; individual and community initiatives and land tenure issues.
  • Encouraging private sector operators to return to the areas. The returnees need consumables and links to output markets to enable economic recovery. Incentive schemes were considered to encourage private sector firms to tackle the inherent risks in re-establishing their services.
  • Rural outreach of micro-financial services, both at the level of the rural poor and for higher market segments such as traders and small agri-businesses.
  • Access to agricultural education including local capacity for technical training of returned youths and potential adaptability problems.
  • Review of planned interventions to build capacity at local government level and identification of any specific gaps linked to agriculture.
  • Explore complementarity with established extension services as well as using existing channels for delivery of new services or messages.

Pakistan: Design of the Punjab Poor Districts Development Programme

The aim of this DFID-funded programme was to tackle rural poverty in Punjab by increasing livelihood opportunities for the rural poor. The means of achieving this included:

  • increasing the opportunities for income generation, employment and self-employment
  • increased and secure access to land; and
  • addressing social exclusion whilst reducing risk and vulnerability.

HTSPE was responsible for finalising the programme design, technical appraisals, logical framework and developing terms of reference for the whole programme. A detailed implementation plan for the first two years was produced along with an outline plan for the remaining duration.

The logical framework built on the draft strategy of GoPunjab and the design and implementation plan covered technical, institutional, social development, governance, economic, environmental and financial issues. Risk assessments and mitigation strategies were developed, as was a communication strategy for the whole programme. Detailed budgets were devised and an impact evalution methodology completed the work on the Design Phase of this important programme.

To view more detail or additional projects please click on the links below:

Livelihoods Resource Centre
Monitoring and Evaluation of Livelihood Programmes
Integrated Development of the River Paute Basin
Framework Contract Lot 1 – Rural Development
Policy and Knowledge Facility
Coalitions for Change (C4C)
Monitoring and Review of the State Partnership Programme for Chhattisgarh and Rajasthan
Sector Policy Support Programme in Social Protection and Public Finance Management
Framework Contract BENEF Lot 9 – Culture, Education, Employment and Social
Policy Development Facility
Impact Assessment of the Chars Livelihoods Programme, Phase I
Climate Change Adaptation: Design and Pilot Phase
Public Servants Pension Scheme Development and Technical Support for Southern Sudan Pension Fund

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HTSPE Limited
Thamesfield House
Boundary Way
Hemel Hempstead
Hertfordshire HP2 7SR
United Kingdom

T: +44 (0)1442 202 400
F: +44 (0)1442 266 438
E: info@htspe.com