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Shaping policy for development

An overview of Lagoro IDP camp in Kitgum District, northern Uganda, 20 May 2007. Manoocher Deghati/IRIN
Wed, 02/19/2014 - 22:01 -- Anonymous (not verified)
Ouma weeding this year’s crops that she's just planted
Ouma weeding this year’s crops that she's just planted

License: ODI given rights
Credit: Harriet Logan/Save the Children
Source: Save The Children

Secure Livelihoods Research Consortium

January 2011 to December 2017
Paul Harvey
Research Directors: Rachel Slater; Priyanthi Fernando; Programme Manager: Sonia Sezille; Research Uptake Manager: Maryam Mohsin; Research Officer: Richard Mallett; Project Officer: Franziska Schwarz

The Secure Livelihoods Research Consortium (SLRC) is a six year global research programme exploring livelihoods, basic services and social protection in conflict-affected situations.

Funded by the UK Department for International Development (DFID), Irish Aid and the European Commission (EC), SLRC was established in 2011 with the aim of strengthening the evidence base and informing policy and practice around livelihoods and services in conflict.

What is the focus of SLRC’s research?

The evidence base on livelihoods, services and social protection in conflict-affected situations is patchy and extremely weak in certain places. In particular, there is:

  • little understanding of the relationships between service provision, legitimacy and state-building;
  • little evidence on the service delivery and human well being outcomes of external actors’ state-building and capacity development efforts in conflict-affected situations;
  • a lack of comparable and longitudinal research into how people are able to maintain or create secure livelihoods during and after violent conflict.

At the centre of SLRC’s research are three core themes, developed over the course of an intensive one-year inception phase.

1. State legitimacy: experiences, perceptions and expectations of the state and local governance in conflict-affected situations

Establishing, building or strengthening state legitimacy is a major element of state-building, and considered important for securing both peace and development.

Using a local-level, people-centred perspective, we will explore how individuals’ experiences, perceptions and expectations of the state and local governance shape legitimacy, and attempt to identify some of the routes through which improvements in legitimacy might strengthen state-society relations. More specifically, we want to know whether government provision of basic services actually contributes to state-building via its possible effects on state legitimacy.

2. State capacity: building effective states that deliver services and social protection in conflict-affected situations

If the first theme focuses on the ‘demand’ side of state-building, then the second is concerned with its ‘supply’ side.

SLRC research under this theme will follow a two-stage logic: we will first describe what international actors’ approaches to capacity development in conflict-affected situations look like, before analysing the outcomes of their engagement in order to draw out lessons for future programming. Theme 2 research therefore involves both descriptive and prescriptive elements, and will be of direct use to aid agencies engaging in state-building and service delivery operations in conflict-affected environments.

Taken together, these two research themes will generate evidence that contributes towards a fuller understanding of the different dimensions of the state-building process.

 3.Livelihood trajectories and economic activity under conflict

Research under this theme will ask: what do livelihood trajectories in conflict-affected situations tell us about how governments and aid agencies can more effectively support the ways in which poor and vulnerable people make a living?

SLRC will address this using a longitudinal perspective – a key gap in the current evidence base – which will help build a picture of how people attempt to secure their livelihoods in particular contexts and over time. Rather than tracing the impact of individual programmes, this will enable us to start from the perspective of poor people, and to ask which, if any, aid interventions or government policies and programmes are making a difference in peoples’ lives.

By paying close attention to the governance structures that both support and undermine people’s livelihoods, we will link our research within this theme with our work on legitimacy and state capacity.

Particular issues and sub-themes to investigate in more detail will emerge through an iterative process. However, based on a set of 10 evidence papers completed during SLRC’s inception phase, it is anticipated that these may include: processes of return; land rights; urbanisation; shifts in gender roles; emerging non-western actors; the role of the private sector; markets (particularly agricultural markets); and opportunities for growth.

Some funding will also be available for SLRC partner organisations to bid for work outside of these core themes and in other conflict-affected countries.

How will SLRC carry out the research?

At the heart of SLRC’s research will be a survey on livelihoods and access to services,which will also explore experiences, perceptions and expectations of the state and local governance.This will be carried out on two separate occasions – once at the start of the programme, and once again at the end– thus providing a valuable longitudinal, panel-based perspective. The surveys will be complemented by in-depth qualitative research.

Developing capacity is at the core of SLRC’s approach to conducting high quality research, and we will achieve this through a combination of activities, including funding PhDs for students from the global south, holding training sessions and workshops, and facilitating collaboration between our partners (for the development of both northern and southern researchers).

SLRC is also paying particular attention to mainstreaming gender throughout its work, both in terms of the content of our research (i.e. research questions, methods, analysis) as well as the way in which we carry out our work (i.e.management, staffing, uptake). In order to track performance and ensure accountability on this front, a core gender team has been established within the Consortium.

Where is SLRC working?

The Overseas Development Institute (ODI) is the lead organisation.

SLRC partners include: the Centre for Poverty Analysis (CEPA) in Sri Lanka, Feinstein International Center (FIC, Tufts University), the Afghanistan Research and Evaluation Unit (AREU), the Sustainable Development Policy Institute (SDPI) in Pakistan, Disaster Studies of Wageningen University (WUR) in the Netherlands, the Nepal Centre for Contemporary Research (NCCR), and the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO). 

SLRC’s research focuses on seven core countries, covering a range of conflict-affected situations:

  • Afghanistan
  • Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC)
  • Nepal
  • Pakistan
  • South Sudan
  • Sri Lanka
  • Uganda
  • Sierra Leone
What will be done with SLRC’s research?

Through a combination of regular engagement with key stakeholders and disseminating compelling, accessible and relevant research outputs, we intend to ensure our findings are used to facilitate better informed policy making and practices, and to promote spaces for dialogue.

SLRC will pay particular attention to engaging with national and local governments, and national civil society, within our eight focus countries. In doing this we will leverage the strength of Consortium members by building on CEPA’s, SDPI’s and NCCR’s existing capacities and expertise at national levels, and ODI’s, Feinstein’s and Wageningen’s at an international level.

SLRC research also hopes to contribute towards on-going efforts by the g7+ – an exciting new institution that is enabling fragile states to bring their own voices to debates about fragility – and the ‘International Dialogue on Peace-building and State-building’ to measure fragile states’ progress towards achieving the five Peace-building and State-building Goals (PSGs) as set out in the ‘New Deal’.

How can I find out more?

Social Protection
Department for International Development (DFID)
Irish Aid
European Commission (EC)
Centre for Poverty Analysis (CEPA)
Feinstein International Center (FIC)
Nepal Centre for Contemporary Research (NCCR)
Wageningen University & Research Centre (WUR)
Afghanistan Research and Evaluation Unit (AREU)
Sustainable Development Policy Institute (SDPI)

Sustainable Development Policy Institute 2013 conference: creating momentum - today is tomorrow

Event - Conference - 10 - 12 December 2013

​​The Sustainable Development Policy Institute(SDPI) will be hosting its Sixteenth Sustainable Development Conference titled 'Creating Momentum: Today is Tomorrow' in Islamabad, Pakistan. The Secure Livelihoods Research Consortium will be at the SDPI conference looking at livelihoods in fragile and conflict-affected situations (FCAS), particularly in the South Asian region. 

Conducting surveys to find out people's perceptions of service delivery in conflict: You must be crazy!

Opinion - Films and videos - 18 November 2013

Over 2012-13 the Secure Livelihoods Research Consortium (SLRC) conducted a panel survey in five conflict-affected countries; DRC, Nepal, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Uganda.

The aim was to find out people’s perceptions of basic services, livelihoods, and their views of governance actors. 

SLRC plan to go back and re-interview the same households in 2015 to find out whether their perceptions shift over time. 

Research Director, Rachel Slater reflects on whether we were crazy to do something so ambitious at the DSA Conference.

Girl in front of destroyed homes, CAR
Girl in front of destroyed homes, CAR

Girl in front of destroyed homes in Ngaoundaye, Central African Republic
License: Creative Commons
Credit: hdptcar
Source: Flickr

Third world conference on human security: humanitarian perspectives and responses

Event - Conference - 24 - 27 October 2013

The aim of this conference is to explore recent human security risks, threats and crises that have been affecting different parts of the world and how humanitarian perspectives and approaches developed over the last few decades can be applied to such complex and challenging environments.The Secure Livelihoods Research Consortium will be hosting a panel looking at livelihoods, basic services, security and justice - the socio-economic realities in conflict affected situations. This panel will give the audience a preview to the findings from the surveys exploring the type and coverage of support to livelihoods, the extent of access to basic services and peoples’ views about the roles, responsibilities and performance of different levels of government and non-state actors in providing services, supporting livelihoods and security and justice.

Funds for peace? Examining the transformative potential of social funds

Publication - Journal articles or issues - 26 September 2013
Social funds and large-scale community driven development (CDD) programmes are a popular policy instrument in post-conflict situations. This is partly because they are seen to alleviate pressure on governments to deliver development and reconstruction outcomes by transferring resources and responsibilities to community actors. However, part of their popularity can also be explained by claims that social funds and CDD programmes have the (transformative) potential to generate impacts beyond meeting basic needs, such as creating more peaceful societies at the local level and promoting trust in government. This practice note assesses the performance of 13 programmes against a set of impact indicators.
Rachel Slater

Do cross-border comparisons affect our understanding of how delivering basic services contributes to state legitimacy?

Opinion - Articles and blogs - 21 January 2013

SLRC's Nepal Lead, Bishnu Upreti  and Rachel Slater, SLRC Research Director look at how are people’s attitudes towards government are affected when accessing services in two countries simultaneously. After travelling to Ilam District in the far east of Nepal SLRC researchers found that the lack of health services in the district meant that people were crossing the border to go to clinics and hospitals in India.

Social protection and basic services in fragile and conflict-affected situations

Publication - Discussion papers - 25 October 2012
Samuel Carpenter, Rachel Slater and Richard Mallett
In an effort to generate better understanding and to identify useful lessons and findings for researchers and decision makers working on and in fragile and conflicted-affected situations, this paper synthesises and assesses the available evidence on social protection and basic services (health, education and water) in fragile and conflict-affected situations.

The benefits and challenges of using systematic reviews in international development research

Publication - Journal articles or issues - 18 September 2012
This article offers critical reflections on the use of systematic reviews in the field of international development, drawing on the authors' shared experience of conducting a number of their own systematic reviews.

Livelihoods, basic services and social protection in Sri Lanka

Publication - Discussion papers - 21 August 2012
Priyanthi Fernando and Sonali Moonesinghe
Drawing on a review of key literature and a series of consultations with policy makers, practitioners and academics, this paper explores and assesses the current state of knowledge on livelihoods, basic services and social protection in Sri Lanka.

Livelihoods, basic services and social protection in north-western Pakistan

Publication - Discussion papers - 21 August 2012
Babar Shahbaz, Qasim Ali Shah, Abid Q. Suleri, Steve Commins and Akbar Ali Malik
This review paper synthesises and assesses evidence from the existing literature on poverty and livelihoods, access to basic services and social protection, and aid and its governance in conflict-affected areas of Pakistan, particularly the north-western province of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) and the Federally Administrative Tribal Areas (FATA)

Livelihoods, basic services and social protection in Afghanistan

Publication - Discussion papers - 3 July 2012
Adam Pain
This paper examines the links between livelihoods, service delivery and social protection interventions in Afghanistan and how poor people seek to make a living and scrutinises the causal models or ‘theories of change’ that underpin such interventions.

Livelihoods, basic services and social protection in South Sudan

Publication - Discussion papers - 3 July 2012
Daniel Maxwell, Kirsten Gelsdorf and Martina Santschi
This paper summarises the existing literature on livelihoods, basic services and social protection in South Sudan; presents a brief analysis of this literature, and lays out potential research questions for the Secure Livelihoods Research Consortium (SLRC).
Haitians in Cité Soleil Queue for Food
Haitians in Cité Soleil Queue for Food

License: Creative Commons
Credit: UN Photo
Source: Flickr

Views amidst violence: can perception surveys improve aid in fragile states?

Event - Public event - 14 June 2012 16:00 - 17:30 (GMT+01 (BST))

Aid policy and programming in fragile and conflict-affected situations often assumes that investing in improved service delivery, justice and security can contribute to state-building and peace-building.  Surveys are increasingly used to better understand the attitudes and perceptions of people in conflict-affected countries but their impact on decisions about aid interventions is less clear.  This public meeting, organised by the Secure Livelihoods Research Consortium (SLRC) and hosted by ODI will explore the challenges associated with delivering perception surveys in fragile and conflict-affected situations (FCAS), share findings from two surveys in Haiti and Afghanistan and assess how far these two perceptions surveys have successfully influenced aid policies.

Information Documents