Livelihood strategies

Rural households typically generate income in a diversity of ways - from farming, fishing, forest products, employment, trading and other enterprises. Improving or starting enterprises is thus a normal part of life but it is also promoted as an important means of escape from poverty. Peoples’ options are heavily constrained by their circumstances, in particular the place and society into which they are born, but change is usually possible if the desire is there. People need to be able to take stock of their circumstances – their natural, human, physical, social and financial assets – and have access to a mix of technical advice, financial advice and encouragement in order to overcome their constraints.

Materials in this topic will focus primarily on small scale producers and poor rural households with limited commercial activity. Reflection on changing livelihood strategies could be encouraged during group meetings, e.g. in farmer field schools, study circles, literacy classes or savings groups, or it can be provided through individual advisory services.

Library Resources

resource title type year resource
Leaping & Learning: Linking Smallholders to Markets Report 2013 English (en)

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Leaping & Learning: Linking Smallholders to Markets is  a comprehensive review of the existing literature on smallholder centred market-based interventions.

Case Studies  -  English (en)

Author Steve Wiggins & Sharrada Keats
Publisher Agriculture for Impact and the Overseas Development Institute
Primary Language English (en)
Region / Country Africa, Eastern and Central Africa, Northern Africa, Southern Africa, Western Africa
Keywords Smallholder Farming, Market Linkages
Related Resources
8 Views for the G8: Business Solutions for African Smallholder farmers to Address Food Security and Undernutrition Paper 2013 English (en)

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A briefing paper, “8 Views for the G8: Business Solutions for African Smallholder farmers to Address Food Security and Undernutrition”, asks eight leading development practitioners to reflect on their market-based work with African farmers and their recommendations for future action and support.

8 Views for the G8: Business Solutions for African Smallholder farmers to Address Food Security and Undernutrition  -  English (en)

Housing Microfinance for rural families Article 2011

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Microfinance has become not only a tool for enteprise development but for housing as well. Just as microfinance enabled the low income access business and financial training from commercial bank alternatives, housing microfinance is becoming a perfect substitute for commercial mortgage finance.

Gender and Governance in Rural Services Report 2010 English (en)

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This report presents descriptive findings and qualitative analysis of accountability mechanisms in agricultural extension and rural water supply in India, Ghana, and Ethiopia, paying specific attention to gender responsiveness. The Gender and Governance in Rural Services project seeks to generate policy-relevant knowledge on strategies to improve agricultural and rural service delivery, with a focus on providing more equitable access to these services, especially for women. The project focuses on agricultural extension, as an example of an agricultural service, and drinking water, as an example of rural service that is not directly related to agriculture but is of high relevance for rural women. A main goal of this project was to generate empirical microlevel evidence about the ways various accountability mechanisms for agricultural and rural service provision work in practice and to identify factors that influence the suitability of different governance reform strategies that aim to make service provision more gender responsive.

This report presents the major descriptive findings from the quantitative and qualitative research conducted in the three countries. It identifies major patterns of accountability routes and assesses their gender dimension. Because the report is exploratory, the policy implications derived from it have been formulated in a cautious way. The results should nevertheless be of interest to a wide audience interested in agricultural and rural service provision, including researchers, members of the public administration, policy makers, and staff from NGOs and international development agencies involved in the design and management of reform efforts, projects, and programs dealing with rural service provision.

Gender and Governance in Rural Services  -  English (en)

Gender and rural microfinance: Reaching and empowering women Study Guide 2009

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This guide is intended as an overview of gender issues for rural finance practitioners. It highlights the questions that need to be asked and addressed in gender mainstreaming. It will also be useful to gender experts wishing to increase their understanding of specific gender issues in rural finance. The guide focuses on rural microfinance, defined as “all financial services that are accessible to poor and low-income rural households and individuals”. IFAD’s focus, as well, is on such poverty-targeted microfinance. The delivery of other types of rural finance involves different challenges and issues, and, currently, a lack of reliable information on gender issues in these other types makes any conclusions difficult.

The guide’s intended users include IFAD’s country programme managers and staff, technical partners and microfinance institutions, gender practitioners working in rural microfinance, and academic researchers in the fields of gender and microfinance.

Author Linda Mayoux and Maria Hartl
Publisher International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD)
Number of Pages 79 pp.
Primary Language English (en)
Region / Country Global
Keywords Rural Finance, Gender, Rural Microfinance, Financial Services
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Gender Mainstreaming and Empowerment of Women in Rural microfinance Article 2009 English (en)

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This guide is intended as an overview of gender issues for rural finance practitioners. It highlights the questions that need to be asked and addressed in gender mainstreaming. It will also be useful to gender experts wishing to increase their understanding of specific gender issues in rural finance. The guide focuses on rural microfinance, defined as “all financial services that are accessible to poor and low-income rural households and individuals”.6 IFAD’s focus, as well, is on such poverty-targeted microfinance. 

Gender Mainstreaming and Empowerment of Women in Rural microfinance  -  English (en)

Cost-effective Household Surveys: Key Lessons for Implementing a Household Livelihood Survey on a Budget Case Study 2009

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This document outlines the key lessons learned for cost-effective implementation of a household livelihoods survey, drawn from the experience of a successful effort in earthquake-affected Pakistan.

Financial Services for Developing Small-Scale Irrigation in Sub-Saharan Africa Technical Note 2008

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Food insecurity and income poverty are rampant in Sub-Saharan Africa. Thirty-one percent of children under the age of five are malnourished and some 72 percent of the population lives on less than US$2 day. Forty-one percent lives on less than US$1 day. The impoverished and hungry are concentrated disproportionately in rural areas and rely mainly on the consumption and sale of agricultural produce for their food and income. Africa has experienced increasing dependency on food imports that its countries cannot afford.

Yet an estimated 700,000 hectares of arable land in Africa remains uncultivated. It is land that could become productive through small-scale irrigation using basic technology to draw on small-water resources, such as tube wells, and dambos. The technologies can be applied to cultivate smallholder plots of up to five hectares. Employing them will enable up to 4 million low-income households to intensify agricultural production and increase productivity.

Small-scale irrigation can increase agricultural productivity and production, thus contributing to economic growth in rural areas and increased well-being among small holder farmers. Its potential to increase and stabilize food supply is especially important in light of the ongoing food crisis, and especially in Africa. Expanding the use of small-scale irrigation requires farmers to have access to financial services. The many constraints and obstacles that rural financial institutions in Africa confront must be purposefully navigated if financial services are to fulfil this role. Effectively tailoring financial services and products to support irrigation in different settings and among different client groups will be essential to success. Carefully targeting grant funding to the very poorest subsistence farmers and clearly separating it from lending will be likewise be critical to the sustainability of these financial services.

Comanagement of Natural Resources: Local Learning for Poverty Reduction Book 2006 English (en) Spanish (es) French (fr)

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The developing world’s poorest people live in marginal, often harsh rural environments. The natural resource base tends to be fragile and highly vulnerable to over exploitation. Yet these rural people depend directly on access to the food, forage, fuel, fibre, water, medicines, and building materials provided by local ecosystems. What types of natural resource management (NRM) can improve the livelihoods of these poor people while protecting or enhancing the natural resource base they depend on? New approaches to NRM are needed – ones that move beyond the earlier narrow focus on productivity (such as crop yields), to include social, institutional, and policy considerations.

One such approach – comanagement – is presented in this book. It can be defined as collaborative arrangements in which the community of local resource users, local and senior governments, and other stakeholders share responsibility and authority for managing a specified natural resource or resources. This book draws on more than a decade of research across the developing world and presents case studies from Bhutan, Cambodia, China, Ecuador, Lebanon, and Viet Nam.

The Book  -  English (en)

El Libro  -  Spanish (es)

Le Livre  -  French (fr)

Author Tyler S.
Publisher Centre de recherches pour le développement international
Number of Pages 120 pp.
Primary Language English (en)
Region / Country Global
Keywords Livelihood Strategies, Natural Resource Management
Related Resources
The Farm as a Commercial Enterprise Book 2006

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This book provides a simple introduction to farming as a commercial enterprise. It explains the concepts of fixed and variable costs, gross margins and ways to measure profit. The effect of supply and demand on market prices is explored together with the concept of being an entrepreneur. Each chapter includes examples and exercises for which solutions are given at the end. The book can be used as a basis for training courses or it can be used for self-study. There is a companion volume called Farm Accounting.

Author Gietema, B.
Publisher Agromisa
Number of Pages 109 pp.
Primary Language English (en)
Region / Country Global
Keywords Farm Accounting, Commercial Farming, Farm Enterprise
Related Resources
What do your customers need? Paper 2005

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This useful document, based on extracts from "Getting Down to Business" by Uschi Kraus-Harper and Malcolm Harper, explains how even micro entrepreneurs need to find out what their customers want and can do simple market research. The note also provides a summary of the four "Ps" of the marketing mix and some rules for successful marketing.

Helping Small Farmers Think About Better Growing and Marketing Reference Material 2004

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This manual begins by noting that there are many different types of farming families in the Pacific and that most of these differences can be attributed to the individual choices farming families make in three important areas:

  • the types and combinations of activities they undertake
  • the ways in which those activities are undertaken
  • the family’s reasons for undertaking activities

Farming families can also be differentiated in terms of the size of their farming operation. This is primarily defined in terms of the area of the farm or of the income received from farming.

The introduction to the manual states, therefore, that the key challenge in developing this manual has been whether one set of analytical tools can be suitable for all the different types of farmers on the small to commercial continuum. Although the farming systems approach to development (FSD) does contain some analytical tools for financial analysis it also includes other tools designed to deal with issues relating to multiple goals and activities (often non-economic) which are undertaken without entering the market place. Economic tools become more important the more commercialised a farming operation becomes.

This manual is designed to help extension and development officers and colleagues train their field facilitators to help interested small farmers and farmer groups make decisions that will improve their income and, hopefully, their feeling of well-being. The manual states that armed with this knowledge, facilitators will be able to better advise farming families about how to consider changes to their traditional farming system, how the changes may affect them, and whether or not those changes will be good for them.

The emphasis in this manual is on small farmers, since they form the majority in the Pacific. The manual itself is divided into five primary parts – where the introduction to each of the following chapters provides details of the material presented :

  1. The farming systems approach to development (FSD) (Chapter 3)
  2. Farm management (Chapter 4)
  3. Marketing (Chapter 5)
  4. The production-marketing link (Chapter 6)
  5. Risk management (Chapter 7)

Prior to these main parts, however, Chapter 2 is devoted to the facilitators. However, it worth noting that the manual also suggests that more educated farmers, and those who are more commercialised, will also be able to benefit from studying the manual.

The manual is well illustrated and includes photos, table and summary boxes to aid the reader. The appendices also include useful information in the following areas:

  • Role and techniques of facilitators
  • Examples of farm record forms
  • A list of useful references relating to the material presented in the manual
  • Definitions of the acronyms used in the manual
  • Definitions of the technical terms used in the manual
Author Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO)
Publisher Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO)
Number of Pages 154 pp.
Primary Language English (en)
Region / Country Global
Keywords Farm Management, Marketing, Production, Agricultural Risk
Related Resources
Farmers’ Life School Manual Document 2004

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The aim of those who developed the idea of the Farmers’ Life School (FLS) was to find ways to help farming communities not only to perceive that they could have a better future, but also that they could take control of their own development. An FLS is a school that is created for a by villagers. The participants are people from the village. The facilitators are usually graduates from FLSs. The objective of a FLS is:

  • To provide a free forum for discussion
  • To provide the tools for community empowerment by developing skills which help one to identify and analyse problems that exist in the village
  • To place prime importance on local knowledge and resources to initiate changes
  • To understand the vulnerability that each individual and family member has to common community problems
  • To build the social capacity of the community through critical decision-making, thus alleviating the stresses of development and creating community resilience

This manual is intended primarily for use by facilitators of the FLS who have graduated from a Farmers’ Field School and a FLS, by adult educators or NGOs and community-based organisations with experience in participatory learning and people interested in introducing the FLS course into their own programmes. The FLS can be used in either community-based programmes or it can be adapted for formal educational settings.

The aim of the manual is to provide a framework to confront local concerns that face a community. The FLS is aimed at building on the risk assessment knowledge that farmers already have through a holistic approach. Proactive change is implemented through emphasising the importance of local resources and networks. Ultimately, the goal is to enable farmers to become effective decision-makers in their own lives, the lives of their families and in their community.

The manual begins with background information on FLSs and sets out general guidelines and preparation notes for starting a FLS. The main part of the training manual covers the actual curriculum. This is broken down into 16 sessions. The beginning of each section notes the objectives for that particular part of the programme and describes any material required. The key activities are then detailed in a number of easy to follow steps. The sessions covered are:

  1. Introducing the Farmers’ Life School
  2. Problem identification
  3. Agro-ecological system, human-ecological system and problem-solving
  4. Agro Eco-System Analysis
  5. Field observation
  6. Needs and daily practices of villagers
  7. Community networks
  8. Resource mobilisation
  9. Village Walk
  10. Presenting the results of the Village Walk
  11. Human Eco-System Analysis
  12. Conducting a successful interview ethically
  13. Conducting Human Eco-System Analysis
  14. Presenting Human Eco-System Analysis
  15. Developing an action plan for post-Farmers’ Life School activities
  16. Presenting the findings to the village
Author The Cambodian rice farmers, Chhaya, Ou, du Guerny, J, Geeves, Richard, Kato, M, Lee-Nah, Hsu
Publisher UNDP, FAO and World Education
Number of Pages 52 pp.
Primary Language English (en)
Region / Country Global
Keywords Agricultural Development, Health, Farming, Risk Assessment
Related Resources
Rural Households and Resources – A Pocket Guide for Extension Workers Guideline 2004

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FAO’s Socio-economic and Gender Analysis (SEAGA) Programme has developed an approach to development that is centred around an analysis of socio-economic patterns and participatory identification of women’s and men’s priorities. Over the last few years, FAO has developed a new comprehensive guide, “Rural households and resources: a guide for extension workers” to help extension and other community-based workers to understand the management of resources within and between households, and to grasp the implications of such resource management for agricultural production, food security and rural development. It is intended to help them apply a participatory and gender-sensitive approach in their planning with, and service to, rural households. The guide pays special attention to the impact of HIV/AIDS on rural households and their resources.

In field-testing, extension workers expressed the need for a complementary pocket edition that they could carry with them to the field. The result is this pocket guide, which summarises the key points outlined in the primary guide. It highlights many of the major issues affecting rural households, and provides users with ideas and tools for collecting, analysing and sharing information about constraints, opportunities and priorities faced by communities, households and individual household members.

While many of the examples are crop-based, the questions and issues can be adapted for use in forestry, fisheries and livestock initiatives. Rural livelihoods are not separate – rather they are complex, interlinked systems of activities. Throughout, there are questions to consider in terms of the impact of HIV/AIDS and other chronic illnesses as these have grave implications for the food security, livelihoods and overall well-being of millions of households.

The guide is broken down into the following chapters:

  • Extension and rural households: Why consider gender?
  • Rural households and the development context
  • Rural households: Constraints and opportunities
  • Tips for applying socio-economic and gender analysis
  • Glossary
  • SEAGA Toolbox
Author FAO Socio-Economic Gender Analysis Programme
Publisher Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO)
Number of Pages 42 pp.
Primary Language English (en)
Region / Country Global
Keywords Extension, Gender, Resources
Related Resources
Gender Equality in SME Development Brief 2003

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Women, it is generally agreed, make a significant contribution to local and national economies all over the world. Many donors and NGOs have been concerned about the development of women’s enterprise and there have been a very large number of projects throughout the world aimed at increasing women’s participation in enterprise with funding made available to provide support through training, advice and credit. However, women engaged in small-scale enterprise do not operate in a vacuum and must survive in a market place that is changing. As yet there have been few studies that examine the impact of globalisation on these enterprises.

To date, much of the focus of women’s SME programmes has been on the poor and marginalised, with support targeted to assist women develop an income stream from a trading activity. Given the added difficulties of competition and the changing demands of the customer, the expectations of increased wealth from SME activity may well not be met. Without strategic support to help them compete, many women may continue to struggle on the margins. To date, most of the focus of support for women’s enterprise development has been on the start-up of new enterprises through the provision of small-scale loans or short training programmes. There has been significantly less emphasis on supporting these enterprises and helping them to survive beyond basic start-up, and to compete in changing markets or achieve planned business growth.

For many women, microfinance and small-scale enterprise is not empowering. It can be marginal and can increase tensions in the family, and create contradictions between the need to generate an income, repay loans and fulfil wider family and community responsibilities. Overall, women have yet to be accepted as being competent to own and manage successful businesses. By focusing on women’s enterprise as an anti-poverty measure, it is possible to overlook how women can access mainstream support with policies and measures. Effective gender aware support that recognises and attempts to redress or compensate for the different circumstances and needs of women as compared to their male counterparts is required.

Goetz and Gupta (1996) point out that improvements in women’s productivity, mobility, access to markets, literacy, social status and control of household decisions take time; require considerable commitment by development workers; a long term investment in local-level processes of social change and a willingness to cope with the sometimes violent and disruptive consequences of challenging class and gender privilege. BDS staff need a strong commitment to women’s economic development and an understanding of the constraints that women often have to overcome when setting up and running an enterprise, due to the different traditional structural and social expectations and responsibilities of women and men.

This brief concludes with a useful programme design checklist for Women’s SME development.

Developing agricultural solutions with smallholder farmers - how to get started with participatory approaches Book 2003 English (en)

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This booklet is based on the experiences of researchers and farmers working with the AusAID-funded Forages for Small holders Project (FSP) in Southeast Asia from 1995 to 1999. This project was a partnership of smallholder farmers, development workers and researchers who were using participatory approaches to develop forage technologies on farms.

This book describes the participatory approach used by development workers in Southeast Asia to help smallholders integrate the forages onto their farms. It is the third in the CIAT in Asia Research for Development series. All three books are available in Chinese, English, Indonesian, Khmer, Lao, Thai, Vietnamese and Burmese guide provides practical tips, using forage as an example, for researchers, workers, and students on how to avoid common mistakes. It was compiled by the Forages for Smallholders Project and the Lao Department of Livestock and Fisheries.

The booklet has been written to help those who want to use participatory approaches in their work but are unsure how to begin. It provides ideas as well as practical tips and basic tools to help get started. The booklet begins by discussing why participatory approaches may be appropriate and should be used before the bulk of the book presents the methods used in the FSP. This section demonstrates village selection, agreeing on issues, searching for technology options with the focus-groups, testing and evaluating options, reporting back to the village, integrating promising solutions on farms, reaching other farmers in the village and sharing successful technologies with other villages. Helpful guidelines on communication and facilitation skills are also offered, based around the importance of remaining neutral, types of questions to use, how to facilitate groups meetings and practical ways of doing so effectively.

Each section is complemented with helpful illustrations and chapter 5 sets out useful practical tools for undertaking the participatory approaches discussed previously. The booklet can be freely downloaded in 8 sections and a hard-copy version purchased via the link below.

Developing agricultural solutions with smallholder farmers - how to get started with participatory approaches  -  English (en)

People's Farming Workbook Book 2002 English (en)

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Originally written for the millions of Southern Africa's small farmers who help themselves by growing their own vegetables or keeping their own chickens and a few goats, this book will also help any small farmer or small-holder in developing countries to help themselves. It includes interviews with small farmers from all over Southern Africa, as well as a chapter on sustainable agriculture - on keeping the land healthy and fertile so that it can go on producing for the generations to come.

People's Farming Workbook (Amazon)  -  English (en)

Author EDA Trust
Publisher David Philip Publishers
Number of Pages 250 pp.
Primary Language English (en)
Region / Country Global
Keywords Soil Fertility, Small-Scale Farming, Farming
Related Resources
The Farmers’ Training Manual for Participatory Training and Extension in Farmers’ Water Management Document 2001 English (en)

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This training manual provides a detailed procedure for field staff to implement a series of training sessions for farmers and water users associations. The manual is subdivided into: Part A: Farmers Seasonal Planning (704 KB). This includes procedures for participatory planning with farmers to define a water management improvement plan to be implemented in the coming season Part B: Farmers Seasonal Training. This includes procedures to provide guidance and assistance to farmers in the implementation of water control technologies and is subdivided into modules, each addressing a specific type of procedures and technologies:

  • Module 1: Water Sources (1081KB)
  • Module 2: Farmers’ Irrigation System Improvements (756 KB)
  • Module 3: Field Water Management (1640 KB)
  • Module 4: Drainage, Flood and Salinity Control (848 KB) Module 5: Water Users Association (782 KB)

Part C: Monitoring and Evaluation B (547 KB). This includes procedures for implementing a participatory impact assessment.

All the training material can be downloaded as pdf files from this website, but is also available on a CD-ROM that can be ordered by sending an e-mail to the address below.

FAO Water Resources  -  English (en)

Author FAO
Publisher Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO)
Primary Language English (en)
Region / Country Global
Keywords Agriculture, Water Management, Irrigation
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Agri-Entrepreneurship Training Manual: Post Harvest Handling System Document 2001 English (en)

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This training resource is a section of the Agri-Entrepreneurship Training Manual prepared by the Nova Scotia Agricultural College (NSAC). NSAC has a long history of working with Ghanaian partners to assist in the development of the country's agricultural sector. In 1995 The College began the design of an Agri-Entrepreneurship project in the north of Ghana, which aimed over a period of five years to introduce entrepreneurial concepts and skills to groups and individuals working in the agri-food sector. Research was conducted in the selected area, followed by the design of training materials in collaboration with local partners. The result was the Agri-Entrepreneurship Training Manual.

The Manual is divided into five sections or modules. Each begins with notes for the facilitator, some general guidelines and a warm-up exercise. Then the module themes are introduced using fact sheets and a visual aid poster, followed by session guidelines, exercises, discussion questions and answers. In this module the following themes are covered:

  • Maturity and harvesting of fresh produce
  • Preparing vegetables for the market
  • Grading and packaging
  • Transport and handling of produce

Each component in this module can be used in the following ways:

  1. A lecture based upon each fact sheet, followed by the corresponding workshop, which would serve to reinforce the concepts discussed in the lecture. The timelines listed beside the fact sheets above will be helpful if you choose this method. Total contact time is approximately 20 hours.
  2. The fact sheets can also be used as background information for facilitators, and not presented in a lecture format. With this method, facilitators would conduct each workshop with participants, and impart the information from the fact sheets as needed for the participants to complete each exercise.

The fact sheets are intended to provide stand-alone information for use as reference materials. The workshops, however, are not intended for use without the support of the fact sheets. This manual has been designed to facilitate learning with both literate and illiterate learners. The facilitator may decide what print materials are appropriate for dissemination to participants.

The material is made available for downloading as a complete module for those with fast internet connections or theme by theme in smaller file sizes for those with slower internet connections. It is clearly explained on the NSAC website. You can also request a hard copy using the contact details given below.

Agri-Entrepreneurship Training Manual: Post Harvest Handling System  -  English (en)

Loan Rescheduling After a Natural Disaster Paper 1998

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This brief discusses the potential interventions and actions that MFIs could undertake in the aftermath of a disaster, based on the experiences of MFIs from Hurricane Mitch and the Bangaldesh flood of 1998. Loan rescheduling in the wake of natural disasters has become a common practice among microfinance institutions (MFIs). MFIs are aware that clients hit by disasters are unable to repay loans according to a pre-disaster schedule. If the MFI insists on on-time repayment, the result for many otherwise outstanding clients may be default. Such actions would punish clients unduly, reduce long-term repayment rates, and force the MFI to remove otherwise good clients from its borrowing list. Moreover, it could mark the MFI as insensitive to its clientele and decrease long-term loyalty to the institution. Clearly, these outcomes are unacceptable to MFIs. This leaves two apparent options: loan forgiveness or loan rescheduling. Loan forgiveness cancels all remaining loan payments and removes the loan from the MFI’s books. But this is not a real option for an MFI: it undercuts long-term client commitment to repay and results in losses to the program. Therefore, in the wake of a disaster, MFIs have only one choice that both serves its clients and is true to institutional goals: loan rescheduling for affected clients.

The brief attempts to answer the following questions:

  • What is the financial impact of rescheduling on the MFI?
  • What is rescheduling?
  • How are missed payments collected?
  • Does loan rescheduling really protect the MFIs portfolio?
  • When and where should MFIs reschedule?
  • What should be the terms and conditions of rescheduling?
  • Does rescheduling work for all microfinance methodologies?

The conclusion notes that rescheduling is an important post-disaster tool, to be implemented quickly and strategically, based on a desire to avoid disaster-induced defaults while maintaining a flow of repayments into the MFI. Successful rescheduling systems are based on pre-disaster planning and loan officer training.

Pre-Disaster Planning to Protect Microfinance Clients Brief 1998

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This brief discusses techniques to prepare a microfinance client for a natural disaster. it highlights that the majority of microfinance clients hit by natural disasters have loans outstanding that they may have used for many purposes, ranging from petty trading, home improvements, livestock, agricultural activities, school fees, medical bills, or previous family emergencies. But when natural disasters strike, clients lose family members, health, homes, business assets, inventories, livestock, and crops—exactly those things in which they had invested loan capital.

Still indebted to the microfinance institution (MFI), clients lose assets or income-earning activities by which means they repay MFI debts. At the same moment, clients require emergency funds to buy food or medicine. Clients with the smallest liquid assets and the greatest loss of income or assets may cope by going deeper into debt, pulling children out of school; selling off their remaining assets, crops, and livestock; and, in extreme cases, dividing the family as adults migrate in search of work.

The brief sets out and discusses eight steps that MFIs can take to mitigate the effect of a sudden natural disaster on their clientele:

  1. Meet with Clients to Discuss Natural Disasters
  2. Create Accessible Emergency Funds
  3. Health Training and Vaccination Programs
  4. Support Economic Diversification
  5. Encourage Structurally Sound Housing
  6. Consider Insurance Products that Respond to Aggregate Crises
  7. Locate Relief Services to Use in Case of Disaster
  8. Collect and Disseminate Early Warning Information to Clients

The brief concludes by noting that clearly these eight techniques cannot protect clients from unexpected natural disasters. They can, however, reduce the loss of life and improve the health of clients and their families, protect household and business assets, and empower clients and their communities to prepare for and react to a sudden disaster.

Environmentally Sound Technologies for Women in Agriculture Book 1996 English (en)

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The preface to this extensive manual notes that women are critical to the well-being of farm households. It further suggests that perhaps, ironically, it is because women have so many responsibilities that they have been overlooked by agriculturalists and policy makers. Yet, women are involved in all aspects of agriculture, from crop selection to land preparation, to seed selection, planting, weeding, pest control, harvesting, crop storage, handling, marketing, and processing. Hence, the development of farming technologies relevant to women is reasoned to be of significant importance.

The manual was produced using a modified version of an approach developed by IIRR to prepare information and training materials quickly and efficiently. Topics were solicited from author-experts all over India. Topics have been edited and laid out to make them interesting and easy to understand and include useful illustrations wherever possible to assist in explaining technologies. The manual is largely targeted at extension agents, although should also be used by community members.

The book is made up of the following topics, each constituting a different chapter:

  • Animal husbandry and dairying
  • Vegetables and post-harvest technologies
  • Organic farming
  • Seed production and storage
  • Pests and pesticides
  • Drudgery reduction
  • Water management for farm and home
  • Fish production
Environmentally Sound Technologies for Women in Agriculture (Amazon)  -  English (en)

Author IFWA and IIRR
Publisher International Federation for Women in Agriculture, New Delhi, India, and International Institute of Rural Reconstruction, Silang, Cavite, Philippines
Number of Pages 213 pp.
Primary Language English (en)
Region / Country Global
Keywords Environment, Farming, Technology
Related Resources
Knowledge Centre for Small Scale Sustainable Agriculture Website English (en)

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