|Date||2006 - 2008||Location||Sri Lanka, India, Maldives, Indonesia, Pakistan, Bangladesh
|Client||EU and Foreign Ministry of Finland||Partners||
The Demand for SLED
Livelihood enhancement and diversification has been recognised, by conservationists and development practitioners alike, as a mechanism to promote livelihood development and encourage people to move away from the harmful exploitation and degradation of natural resources. However, the majority of the efforts to support livelihood enhancement and diversification have, so far, tended to be supply-driven and focused on single, “blueprint” solutions. Such solutions are not built on an understanding of the underlying factors helping or inhibiting livelihood diversification, and often fail to appreciate the obstacles faced by the poor in trying to enhance and diversify their livelihoods.
The result has often been “alternative livelihoods” initiatives that promote unsustainable solutions that are poorly adapted to people’s capacities, have limited market appeal and fail to reflect people’s aspirations for their future. Where livelihood enhancement and diversification work has been undertaken in parallel with coastal and marine ecosystem conservation efforts it has often been done after the introduction of management measures, when people are already attempting to cope with reduced livelihood opportunities and their capacity to adapt has already suffered.
Ultimately, such failures affect the success of the management measure themselves, as people are forced to continue activities that degrade coastal and marine ecosystems through the lack of better alternatives and in spite of the risks involved.
The SLED Process
The Sustainable Livelihood Enhancement and Diversification (SLED) process was designed to help people to take advantage of opportunities to change the nature of their dependency on natural resources and support the conservation measures that have been put in place. Ultimately SLED creates the conditions where all people are able to make informed choices about their livelihood options and have access to the support they need in order to realize those choices.
The SLED approach is based on three phases:
1. Understanding the complexity of people livelihoods and their relationship with natural resources, the wider economy and society. Collaborative learning with people about the diversity of resources, skills, capacities and interests that inevitably make up any community and building a consensus for change;
2. Developing visions and plans for equitable and sustainable livelihood change that are rooted in people's strengths, capabilities and reflect market realities;
3. Building people’s capabilities and adaptive capacity, together with networks of government, civil society and private sector services to support sustainable and equitable livelihood development.
These phases are underpinned by a series of supporting processes. These processes are designed to address the important associated factors that will build the confidence and capacity of individuals and create the enabling conditions for SLED. These processes are not a luxury add-on if time permits, they are fundamental to the successful implementation of the SLED process.
Developing the SLED Process
The SLED process has been developed by IMM ltd through building on the lessons of past livelihoods research projects as well as worldwide experience in livelihood improvement and participatory development practice.
IMM designed and facilitated a process of action research to refine and test SLED. To do this IMM worked with six partners (including NGOs and government agencies) who had very different characteristics in terms of the size, capacity and community development experience. The sites and the partner organisations are:
- Aceh (Weh Island), Indonesia: Partners – the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) and Yayasan PUGAR (Centre for People’s Movement and Advocacy);
- Andaman Islands, India: Partners – the Andaman and Nicobar Environment Team (ANET) and Karen Youth Association;
- Baa Atoll, Maldives: Partners – the Foundation of Eydhafushi Youth Linkage (FEYLI) and Atoll Ecosystem-Based Conservation Project (AEC);
- Bar Reef, Sri Lanka: partners – the Coastal Resource Management Project (CRMP) and Community Help Foundation (CHF);
- Gulf of Mannar, India: Partners – Peoples' Action for Development (PAD);
- Lakshadweep Islands, India: Partners – Centre for Action Research on Environment, Science and Society (CARESS).
The process included a series of three workshops. Each workshop was designed firstly to reflect on the partners experiences in community development and, once started, in the implementation of SLED; then to build the capacity of the partners for the next steps of SLED; and then though a facilitated process to build guidance for implementing the next steps of SLED. Following each workshop the teams used the guidance to implement the next steps of SLED in the field.
The participatory development process meant that the partners developed ownership over the SLED process, and perhaps more importantly had the capacity to innovate around the process to make it work in their local context. This provided valuable experience when it came to developing the overall guidance for SLED.
Empowering the practitioners to use their skills and local experience was both a central aim of the process for developing SLED and proved to be critical in its successful application at a local level.
“The SLED approach did not force the team to use predetermined tools, instead providing a framework of objectives that enabled the team to direct its activities yet allow the flexibility of using approaches and tools that met with the social and cultural needs of the Karen community”. Mannish Chandi (2007)
The Impacts of SLED
While this process of testing and refining SLED has been carried out specifically in the context of efforts to manage coastal and marine resources, it is an approach that can be applied widely wherever natural resources are facing degradation because of unsustainable human use. Some of the reflections on the effectiveness of the SLED process are included in the table below.
Responses to the SLED Approach from the Field
Tackling a culture of dependency
“SLED has helped to initiate a change in a dependent culture where people expect everything to be delivered or provided for them, rather than them seeking what they can do to make their own livelihoods better. Now people see FEYLI as facilitators rather than providers”.
- FEYLI, SLED field level implementer Baa Atoll, Maldives
Building Partnerships for development
“It was obvious to us from the start with our first meeting that the community leadership was not looking for an NGO to pull them along a development path, but for a supportive partnership, based mutual respect and a shared vision for change”.
- ANET, SLED field level implementer, Andaman Islands, India
Taking a holistic approach to livelihood change
“In the SLED process people revealed that the impacts of the SLED process were not limited to income generation but extended to the other areas of their lives such as building social harmony, team work, confidence and trust”.
- CHF, SLED field level implementer, Bar Reef, Sri Lanka
Building cooperative action
The SLED visioning approach has helped to bring groups together for collective action. In one of the villages, Keelamunthal, after creating community vision the whole community sat together to talk about how to achieve their vision. In that process, 20 fisher groups discussed among the issue themselves and decided to purchase a vehicle to transport their catch to the nearby town. All the groups have provided contributions and, together with support from PAD, have purchased a vehicle”.
-PAD, SLED field level implementer Gulf of Mannar, India
Changing attitudes to development
SLED is as much about changing behaviour in the facilitator as it is changing behaviour in the target audience”.
- CARESS, SLED field level implementer, Lakshadweep Islands, India