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Livelihood Zone Map

by Stephen Browne last modified 03/04/2008 15:50

Even a single district may contain more than one agro-ecological division or other elements which have a major effect on livelihoods – so that there are two livelihood zones within the same district. But these zones are likely to extend beyond that district, so that the livelihoods geography and the administrative geography do not coincide. This can be seen, for instance, in the broad livelihood zoning done with FEWS NET for Niger- See map below. From the desert in the north to the special irrigated cash-cropping zone in the south, with the administrative regions and districts superimposed.

Map of Niger

Livelihood zone maps are always presented with the administrative map superimposed. Baseline assessment and on-going monitoring need to be done in terms of livelihoods geography; response usually needs to be done via the administrative divisions.

Ideally, livelihood zone boundaries would coincide with administrative boundaries, but this is not always possible because homogenous ecological and economic zones often cross political boundaries. As a result, within one administrative unit, it may be possible to find pastoralists living alongside agriculturalists, or agro-pastoralists alongside fishing communities.

The 1st Step in HEA

Before we can analyze the livelihoods of people we need to put them into their geographical context. This is what livelihoods mapping or ‘zoning’ is about, and it is usually the first activity undertaken in a Household Economy survey for an area of any significant size.

The method for livelihoods zoning has been developed by FEG over several years and involves a process of analysis of available data-sets and literature, national and regional workshops with key informants, and consultation for verification at regional or district level. As of 2007 livelihoods zoning had been done in over 30 countries in Africa, Central America and Central Asia. The resulting maps, with their livelihoods-oriented focus on economic geography, have been found interesting and useful beyond specific early warning and monitoring purposes, for gaining a geographical handle on development issues too.

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