A livelihood constitutes the ability to make a living. A livelihood is sustainable when it can survive the stress and shocks of the surrounding environment, while not undermining the natural resource base. (Conway and Chambers 1996).

For nearly 30 years, International Medical Corps has provided livelihoods assistance to enable communities to recover from disaster and alleviate poverty. In the face of conflict or natural disaster, vulnerable populations tend to lose or deplete their assets‚ including livestock, seeds, and household goods in order to survive and be able to buy necessities such as food, medicine, and clothing, pay for school fees and essential services critical to living a healthy life.

Because of this, livelihood protection, restoration and promotion is central to International Medical Corps’ mission of supporting a swift recovery from disaster and strengthening local capacity to soften the impact of future shocks and recover from them. We provide assistance that includes expanded temporary income-earning opportunities. To do this, we focus on rebuilding, expanding and diversifying the centers of wealth that communities draw on for their livelihoods.

Our approach includes skills trainings, cash grants, cash for work, and the protection and replenishment of livestock. In cash-for-work schemes, International Medical Corps often hires local health professionals to fill critical gaps. Local men and women work as community health workers, and local residents assist with post-disaster reconstruction and rehabilitation of key infrastructure. A critical part of our livelihood support strategy is providing skills training to health professionals, unemployed youths and farmers to boost their ability to earn income or produce the food they need to survive following a disaster.

Our Response

SOUTH SUDAN – Livelihood Support for Women
International Medical Corps is implementing the Gender-based Violence (GBV) component of the Humanitarian Assistance for Resilience in South Sudan (HARISS) project. As part of the GBV prevention activities, we provide survivors the assistance they need to engage in livelihood activities to improve income. International Medical Corps’ livelihood pathway has found increased incomes among women beneficiaries contributes to an enhanced sense of self-worth as well as the ability to contribute to the household upkeep. This added confidence reduces the vulnerability of women to gender-related violence. We have provided about 600 women with the training and resources needed, including micro-grants, to establish small businesses in the UN administered Protection of Civilian (PoC) sites at Akobo, Malakal and Wau.

NIGERIA – Livelihood Support for Women
As part of its psychosocial support to women survivors of Gender-Based Violence (GBV), International Medical Corps provides livelihoods support to enable beneficiaries to engage in the making of traditional hats, crotchety and hats. This has contributed to improving incomes and enabled beneficiaries to access some needed household products.

YEMEN — Livestock Replenishment
Livestock make a significant contribution to both livelihoods and food security particularly in the developing world. It is cultural symbol of wealth in some societies as well as an asset that can be liquidated to meet food and other needs in difficult times. As food, livestock is a source of proteins and minerals.
In Yemen, with the support of Gates Foundation, International Medical Corps has provided support to smallholder livestock keepers so they can improve the health of small ruminants. In partnership with the Yemen Veterinary Service, International Medical Corps has undertaken veterinary campaigns to educate herders on improved animal production techniques, undertaken deworming and treatment of diseases. In addition, beneficiaries have been supported with fodder and salt licks to address the micro-nutrient deficiencies in their flock. In 2017, 245 vulnerable households have been assisted with 663 goats and 72 sheep, training on small ruminant husbandry production and fodder to restore the livestock assets they have lost as a result of the war. For Yemeni households, keeping livestock brings with it a sense of pride and renewed optimism. It is a household asset that can be liquidated in times of need.

In another program, supported by the USAID’s Office of U.S. Foreign Disaster Assistance, International Medical Corps, provided veterinary support to small livestock producers, while a carefully selected group of households with malnourished children enrolled in Community-based Management of Severe & Moderate Acute Malnutrition (CMAM) programs have been provided with goats to protect household livelihood assets and restore those lost as a result of the protracted war ravaging the country. Beneficiaries also receive trainings on improved techniques suitable for small producers.

These interventions in Yemen have contributed to improving livelihoods while at the same time protecting assets from depletion, especially among small farmers in communities suffering from the impact of the country’s protracted civil war.

As part of the activities of the USAID/Livestock Marketing Development Project in Ethiopia, International Medical Corps, as a sub-awardee, has provided assistance for the establishment of smallholder poultry to some beneficiaries in the LMD focus Woredas in Ethiopia. This activity has been undertaken to complement the nutrition activities and expand access to animal-source foods among households at risk of malnutrition. Assistance provided includes poulets, feed and shelter materials. In addition to contributing to nutritional outcomes, this activity will improve livelihoods and incomes for these households.

As many as two billion people globally suffer from what is termed ‘’the hidden hunger’’- micro-nutrient deficiencies.

By 2050, the world will need to increase agricultural production by at least 60 percent to feed a projected 9 billion people in the world.