Building Secure Livelihoods

The Issue

Poverty is complex. Rural families living just above the poverty line are largely reliant on agriculture for their food and income. As a result, they can easily fall back into poverty in the event of a family misfortune or disaster, which can make them extremely vulnerable. When they cannot earn enough to make ends meet every day, parents are unable to feed their families. A slight downturn in the economy or a failed rainy season, and they can easily slip into extreme hunger and poverty.

The Model

The Building Secure Livelihoods (BSL) project model provides a comprehensive pathway out of poverty for families to improve their livelihoods to levels that are productive and resilient enough to survive a range of shocks and stresses. The project model works particularly with rural households described as ‘marginally poor’ who have caring responsibilities for young children. We support them to improve their agricultural production and make a profitable farming venture to increase family income in a sustainable manner – moving them from surviving to thriving.

The project model uses a series of approaches to ensure households have economic and financial knowledge and support, and an understanding of risk and how to plan for the future. Families learn how to increase productivity, profitability, alongside sustainable management of all their resources (natural, social and economic.). Primarily though, WV empowers people to take control of their own future by dispelling the self-perception that the extreme poor are “dependent, uneducated and incapable of change.” We know that this mindset can severely limit aspirations, self-worth and future potential.

Core Components & Outcomes

  • We establish and strengthen a savings culture, and financial inclusion through both savings groups and microfinance services.
  • Our Empowered World View approach transforms mind-sets from dependence to empowerment and personal responsibility.
  • Financial literacy education allows farmers and families to take control of their budgets and incomes.
  • We promote sustainable Natural Resource Management, complemented by Climate Smart Agricultural training to support increases to sustainable agricultural production.
  • We help families – and whole communities – to be more resilient with Community-Based Disaster Risk Management.
  • We develop and encourage key partnerships for good agricultural practice, business skills and access to financial services and markets.
  • We promote development of Local Value Chains and Market Systems that work for the rural producers

Christine’s story

For many years, Christine, a widowed mother, struggled along with her village from Kasama, Northern Zambia because of their total dependence on rain-fed subsistence farming

“We hardly harvested enough from our fields and had no other source of income. All the children were not in school as a result.” Christine recalls, “When my husband died things became worse for me. I couldn’t even afford to buy cooking oil”.

A few years ago, World Vision began to work within the community to reduce poverty levels by training farmers in agricultural production and business skills, as well as to build a local dam and irrigation system.

With her improved farming skills and the availability of adequate water supply throughout the year, Christine now engages in enterprising gardening. She now grows vegetables such as onions, tomatoes and pumpkins.

“I suffered a lot until World Vision trained and equipped me with farming and business management skills and introduced me to a savings group,” Christine says. “It was only after the training that I realised I could do more with my life even as a widow.”

Contributing to the Sustainable Development Goals

Goal 1 – Ending poverty: We are supporting families to earn sustainable, reliable incomes and savings for the first time.

Goal 2 – Ending hunger: Once families grow more and better crops, or keep healthy livestock, they can reliably provide quality, nutritious food for their children, as well as selling the surplus for income.

Goal 5 – Gender equality: The programmes help both men and women to earn their own incomes, encouraging equal financial relationships within households.

Goal 8 – Promote economic growth: As new businesses grow, families have adequate income, and the local economy becomes stronger.

Goal 10 – Reduce inequalities: Our programmes focus on the most vulnerable – often female-headed households or minority groups – giving them the tools to feed their children and earn their own living.

Where is WV implementing Building Secure Livelihoods?

Current: Tanzania, Zambia, Malawi, Rwanda, Honduras


Download our Building Secure Livelihoods Fact sheet 


Aisha is one of the smallholder farmers that have received support through an EC funded project to grow high yielding sorghum

Building Secure Livelihoods

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