Our themes

The livelihoods theme contributes to resilient livelihoods and prosperous mountain communities in the HKH through robust socio-cultural and economic analysis, knowledge generation, and targeted publications and communications materials.

Amina Maharjan arrow

Theme Leader, Livelihoods

Our focus

Mountain livelihoods lens

The livelihoods theme provides critical analytical and development expertise through a mountain livelihoods lens.

The region’s rural people live in remote and environmentally harsh areas with poor social and physical infrastructures and unfavourable market conditions. Traditional subsistence smallholder farming and migratory pastoral livelihoods in these mountain regions face increasing challenges from the impacts of climate change, human-animal conflicts, increased natural disasters, and the degradation of forests and rangelands. In addition, poor infrastructure, limited access to water and energy, poor market linkages, and limited know-how on the development of marketable products and post-harvest management threaten the sustainability of mountain agriculture and traditional rural livelihoods.

Managing such transformations requires innovative approaches and strategies for sustainable livelihoods. Given their relatively small and scattered populations, mountain communities often go unheard in political and policy discourse. Despite significant progress, technological advancement, and communications developments in lowland areas, economic growth in the region has not translated into inclusive livelihood opportunities for the rural poor in the HKH. Poverty, vulnerability, and inequality are widespread, and access to resources and services and gainful employment opportunities are limited.

Did you know that about half the population in the HKH is suffering from malnutrition and nearly one-third from food insecurity?

Our work focuses on:

  • Developing skills for generating data and developing knowledge about evolving livelihoods, the drivers of change (demographic, socioeconomic, climatic, environmental), their impacts on mountain poverty and social and gender structures, and emerging challenges and opportunities for livelihood enhancement;
  • Strengthening skills for mountain livelihood opportunities, identifying innovative options, strategies and practices, and promoting mountain niche products and services for facilitating effective adaptation and building resilience, particularly for marginalised people and communities;
  • Developing staff and partner capacity to identify and support non-farm employment opportunities to facilitate transitions from farm to non-farm sectors for rural women and youth to reduce vulnerabilities, enhance prosperity, and realize the aspiration of rural youth by focusing on market-led approaches, including branding and certification of mountain products;
  • Building capacity for supporting demand-driven skills to enhance employability and promote occupational mobility of the rural poor—both women and men—to reap benefits accruing from urban-centric growth processes;
  • Building staff capacity to engage with the private sector to harness business opportunities for entrepreneurial youth to generate market-driven employment opportunities;
  • Supporting skills for equitable and inclusive financial services to the poor, including harnessing remittances for local development;
  • Building staff capacity on facilitating clean energy access to rural poor for sustainable livelihoods promotion focusing on decentralised renewable energy options; and
  • Supporting staff skills for transitioning to resource efficient and low carbon development paths by unlocking opportunities for green and inclusive growth through cutting-edge research and holistic action for innovative solutions.

Events around the HKH

Our involvement

Featured publication

Allo value chain in Darchula, Nepal

Documenting processes helps people to understand what is involved. In this publication, we document the process associated with the allo value chain, including stories of private sector actors with a social orientation and how they can bring about social change through common facility establishment, group formation, linking with local opportunities and finding international markets. This document also sheds light on how communities, government, research organizations, and the private sector can work in harmony and bring transformative change to rural livelihoods.

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News and features

Around the HKH

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Mountain livelihoods

Mountain people live in a rugged but also fragile landscape. The resilience is remarkable even if their environments don't provide for robust economic opportunities.

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We address gender issues in all of our interventions – through policy advocacy, research, capacity building, and partnerships.

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Other themes

Discipline-specific knowledge

Our themes focus on discipline-specific knowledge. Working in partnerships, theme-based staff develop and customize methodologies and tools, and carry out innovative applied research to address the complex issues in the HKH.

Ecosystem services
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Geospatial solutions
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Water and air
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