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This position paper overviews Oxfam Novib’s work on the right to a sustainable livelihood in rural development programming and considers the importance of agriculture for overall growth and poverty reduction. It will support thinking through policy options for programming, lobbying and advocacy work, and will improve programme effectiveness.

Chapter 1 presents evidence of the poverty-reducing impact of agriculture relative to other sectors of the economy and considers important contributions to practices and policy changes that favour small farmers. It also covers the importance of remittances, migration and the growth of non-farm strategies for improving the economic well-being of people living in poverty.

Chapter 2 reviews major influences on the current state of the agriculture and food supply system including evolving supply chains, and issues of environmental degradation, climate change, HIV and AIDS and population growth which will also place greater pressure on the viability of the smallest farms.

Chapter 3 presents typologies and concepts that can be used to assist in conducting regional and national-level analyses.

Chapter 4 outlines three areas of Oxfam Novib’s livelihoods work: building and protecting assets; encouraging governments and the private sector to act responsibly; and creating economic opportunities for poor people.

Chapter 5 outlines implementation strategies, including staff training, ongoing testing of the ideas presented in this paper, improved monitoring and learning opportunities, and effective ways to update strategic programme management plans.

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