Friday, January 11, 2008

Household Livelihoods in Crisis Situations

The ways that households raise their children all over the world are shaped substantially by their livelihood opportunities and constraints. In crisis situations, there exist exacerbated challenges between a household’s efforts to address threats to its livelihoods and survival, and, at the same time, to ensure its children’s security and well-being. In acute and chronic crisis situations — from natural disaster, to armed conflict, to the HIV-AIDS pandemic — there are household strategies which cut across these contexts that households use to improve their security and reduce risks. These household coping strategies may enhance or undermine child security and well-being. The strategies that households adopt may cut across the traditional categories of emergencies. Agencies which intervene in crisis situations need to recognize the profound significance for children of these different household-level decisions and the implications for intervention. What are the protective strategies and interventions possible for households? How can opportunities be reinforced or created that enhance children’s safety and well-being? How can humanitarian and development agencies make good decisions and incorporate relevant interventions into their interventions? While there is a high global interest in household livelihoods behaviors, economic strengthening interventions, and social protection linkages, the evidence base to substantiate and define such linkages is still in its infancy.

Are there household livelihood strategies that cut across different crises, from natural disasters to armed conflicts to the HIV-AIDS pandemic? Or are livelihood strategies context-crisis specific? Do some of these household strategies support and protect children better than others? If so, can we identify what they are and how they work? Do livelihoods specialists understand the implications of their actions on child security and well-being? Do child protection specialists understand the economic pathways of child care and protection? Can linkages be improved? Can practice and policy bridges be built?