Browse by Theme: Livelihoods

People have a certain image of what constitutes an emergency. To someone you ask in the street they would probably imagine panic, chaos and people desperately trying to save their families. And that is true but not always the case, as emergencies get more drawn out due to long-standing conflict, like in Syria, or are slow-burning crises such as Ethiopia’s drought brought on by the climate impacts of El Nino. In these situations, emergency is embedded in everyday life – thinking about the safest route to go to the market or children dropping out of school becomes a part of daily life. And this is when it is not so easy to differentiate humanitarian and development approaches as short-term creeps into long-term.

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In Cambodia, employing women to promote and sell beer in entertainment venues has long been a common way to market beer brands (both regional and international). CARE International in Cambodia sought to address the stigma and safety issues facing women employed to sell beer by working with industry-wide stakeholders to change norms and practices, and achieve long-term impact at several levels.

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In Tanzania a group has gathered to purchase shares, grow their savings, access loans and do their book-keeping. Regular financial sector activities, but with a difference. These are the activities of the Tushikamane Paris group – an informal savings group of 24 women and 6 men from the hinterland of Zanzibar, Tanzania. Many from this community live on the poverty line, although some manage to make a little extra cash through selling surplus vegetables, crafts or making and selling snacks, amongst other small-scale enterprises. Despite having very limited funds, members of the Tushikamane Paris group manage to grow their savings every week, without fail.

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Two recent CARE workshops have helped frame for me the resilience discussion that has come to dominate development discourse over the last five years. In fragile contexts, can we afford to be ambitious with our programming goals to encompass both gender transformative action and crisis adaptation? And more to the point, can we afford not to?

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With the global backdrop of the youth bulge where over a billion adolescents will transition into adulthood, Banking on Change, as the largest global financial inclusion programme working with youth savings groups, has generated evidence to support the premise that youth savings groups can help reduce youth financial exclusion, and provide a stepping stone to formal financial inclusion and equipping young people with the skills they need to support themselves economically.

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Last month I visited Tigray, Northern Ethiopia, to interview farmers and livestock traders faced with the drought effects of one of the most devastating El Niños in 50 years. What are their coping strategies in the face of extreme weather patterns? How are those strategies linked to national and international market systems? And how, through these systems, can we bring about a better deal for those in the supply chain typically made more vulnerable by drought – namely, women?

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During five years of war, Syrian women have taken on new roles and responsibilities in supporting their families. However, Syrian women both in Syria and in refugee contexts encounter substantial barriers as they try to establish new livelihoods, and are increasingly exposed to protection risks, both inside and outside the home.

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