Secure Livelihoods Research Consortium

January 2011
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
Secure Livelihoods Research Consortium (SLRC) aims to generate a stronger evidence base on how people make a living, educate their children, deal with illness and access other basic services in conflict-affected situations.

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 ten 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?

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)

Risking everything: vulnerabilities and opportunities in migration

Event - 6 February 2015 13:00 - 14:30 (GMT+00)
​​​Migration is one of the most effective ways of reducing global poverty. However, there are systemic features undermining its potential. This event, organised by the Secure Livelihoods Research Consortium (SLRC) and Migrating out of Poverty Consortium, explores  the risks and vulnerabilities that migrants face throughout the migration cycle – from pre-departure to the transit phase to employment in the new workplace – with a specific focus on Nepalese migration.

Is it adding up? Peace + aid = state-building

Event - 13 November 2014 12:00 - 14:30 (GMT-05)
Pulling together experts working on recovery and development in places affected by conflict, this event shares the initial findings from SLRC’s cross-country survey as well as IRC’s latest research on community-driven development in conflict-affected situations. 

Blockages to preventing malnutrition in Kambia, Sierra Leone: a semi-quantitative causal analysis

Publication - July 2014
Paul Binns, Ernest Guevarra, Mohamed Jalloh and Melrose Tucker
Over the last four decades, attempts to reduce malnutrition in Sierra Leone have been met with mixed success. To tackle the country's high rate of malnutrition the Government has made a commitment to ensure that 60% of infants are exclusively breastfed by 2016. Based on SLRC data from Kambia, there is still a way to go.

Health service gaps in Africa led to Ebola epidemic

7 July 2014 - Lisa Denney
Lisa Denney looks at the current Ebola crisis and concludes that continued and strengthened support needs to be focused on building the capacities of national health and sanitation systems to respond to emergencies so that such unnecessary loss of life is prevented in the future.

How to save the Afghan election

25 June 2014 - Ashley Jackson
Ashley Jackson reflects on this weekend’s voting activities in Afghanistan and calls on the international community to ensure that the results are legitimate and don’t drive Afghanistan deeper into conflict.

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

Event - 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. 

Third world conference on human security: humanitarian perspectives and responses

Event - 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 - 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.

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

Publication - 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.

Why political settlements matter: a response to Mick Moore

5 October 2012 - Richard Mallett
'The literature on political settlements is growing, and has already begun to help us make sense of development successes and failures; if a bit of discursive and conceptual spring cleaning is part of what’s in order, then let’s drop the pessimism and get to work.'

Livelihoods, basic services and social protection in Sri Lanka

Publication - 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 - 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 - 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 - 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).

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

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

SLRC Nepal Research Programme

SLRC Nepal Research Programme
SLRC Nepal Research Programme - pdf, 145.75k

SLRC Sri Lanka Research Programme

SLRC Sri Lanka Research Programme
SLRC Sri Lanka Research Programme - pdf, 400.11k

SLRC Pakistan Research Programme

SLRC Pakistan Research Programme
SLRC Pakistan Research Programme - pdf, 282.94k

SLRC DRC Research Programme

SLRC DRC Research Programme
SLRC DRC Research Programme - pdf, 143.51k

SLRC Uganda Research Programme

SLRC Uganda Research Programme
SLRC Uganda Research Programme - pdf, 251.84k

About the SLRC

About the SLRC
About the SLRC - pdf, 121.95k

SLRC Afghanistan Research Programme

SLRC Afghanistan Research Programme
SLRC Afghanistan Research Programme - pdf, 299.20k

SLRC Sierra Leone Research Programme

SLRC Sierra Leone Research Programme
SLRC Sierra Leone Research Programme - pdf, 964.89k

SLRC South Sudan Research Programme

SLRC South Sudan Research Programme
SLRC South Sudan Research Programme - pdf, 173.42k