Christian Aid’s Approach To Resilience: Thriving Resilient Livelihoods

Christian Aid, the fourth largest British development/humanitarian NGO, has developed an approach to supporting resilience which it calls the ‘thriving resilient livelihoods’ approach. Christian Aid wants to enable poor people to move beyond survival, to enjoy thriving lives. This means making a living in ways that provide adequate food, safe conditions and the resources to take new opportunities. However, poor people face many risks that limit their ability to improve their livelihoods – disasters, climate change, conflict, disease, poor governance, inequality… These factors interact in complex ways. They have different effects on different people – but their impact is most severe on poor communities. So for poor households to take advantage of opportunities, they have to be able to manage risks. Christian Aid believes we can promote a virtuous circle, where people are supported to strengthen their livelihoods and manage the risks that threaten them at the same time. We call this building a resilient livelihood. Our goal is for individuals and communities to gain the power to live with dignity, responding successfully to disasters and the opportunities and risks that they face. Christian Aid’s Thriving Resilient Livelihoods Framework provides a holistic and integrated approach to implementing livelihoods programmes. It helps vulnerable communities to understand the range of risks they face. It aims to empower poor women and men to move beyond survival and make the most of opportunities to improve the way they make a living. Christian Aid believes that combining resilience and livelihoods work will foster communities that are both thriving and sustainable. The framework bridges the gap between humanitarian and development work. This enables communities, governments, and humanitarian and development organisations to work across sectors in a more coordinated way. The framework helps Christian Aid’s country programmes and partners – and above all poor communities themselves – to prioritise the interaction between different issues, enhancing effectiveness. It empowers them to improve livelihoods, and protect these achievements from immediate threats, while also protecting them against longer-term pressures. A resilient livelihood is one that enables people to anticipate, organise for and adapt to change – good or bad, sudden or slow.

The key elements of a resilient livelihood are:

-Profitability: Women and men gain an equitable share of the value from their labour, enabling them to meet their basic needs and build up savings -Risk and resource management: Women and men are able to manage resources to cope with shocks and to take advantage of opportunities, physical, social, political or economic -Adaptability: Women and men are able to protect the ways they make a living, to adjust to risks and to navigate uncertainty. -Sustainability: The livelihood enhances the natural, physical and social resources upon which it depends -Voice: Individuals have a greater voice in the decisions affecting their livelihoods, especially around access to resources. -Health and wellbeing: The livelihood allows people to live with dignity and does not compromise their health, so people are able to invest time in productive activities. In general, the more options people have, the more opportunities exist for them to improve their livelihood. Having more options also makes people less vulnerable to a single shock. For poor people to deal effectively with change, they need spare assets to use as a buffer. For true resilience, poor women and men need a voice in the decisions that affect their livelihoods. Development projects have often neglected hazards, assuming that the background context of poverty remains the same and that our role is to support people to improve the way they make a living within this fixed setting. Meanwhile humanitarian response has tended to focus on the immediate and physical – rather than longer term factors. To achieve positive and sustained change, we need an integrated approach that encompasses different disciplines, sectors and timeframes. This means building effective links and partnerships at every level between communities, civil society, government, the private sector and technical experts to address the range of issues that affect poor women and men. More details about Christian Aid’s approach can be found at: