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Livelihood Futures in Resource-Scarce Areas – and the Quest for the Inclusion of Marginal Groups

Partner: The National Centre for Competence in Research (NCCR) North-South & Zurich University, Switzerland, University of Agriculture, Faisalabad Pakistan.

Duration: 2009 to 2013

Team Members: Dr. Abid Qaiyum Suleri, Dr. Babur Shahbaz

The debates surrounding the complexity, diversity and dynamics of livelihood patterns in marginal areas demonstrate the linkage between scarcity of natural resource and livelihoods insecurity. In resource-poor areas different social groups strive to access and command over these remaining resources, but also on the (often few) enabling (alternative – e.g. non natural resource – based) opportunities to secure their livelihoods. In this struggle some social groups take benefit while some cannot, and consequently conflicts, social tensions and new exclusions might emerge. This research project is being undertaken in marginal regions of Pakistan.


  • To examine the livelihood patterns, state of food security and natural resources in the study regions.
  • To identify and examine livelihood alternative options, support structures and access of people to these options.
  • To look into the future; linking this research with the climate-change scenarios and debates.


  • Analysis and comparison of results from first phase of research and writing-up of papers for peer reviewed journals have been completed. A journal, and a book have been published.
  • Household surveys were conducted in Battagram and Mansehra districts of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province
  • Two students have completed their M.Sc (Hons.) degree; while two M.Sc (Hons.) and one PhD studies are under progress.
  • Workshop/meeting of involved researchers was held in Tanzania.
  • Publications of a report on the field finding.

The research conducted in North-Western mountainous region of Pakistan indicate that hike in prices of food items was one of the most serious threats to the food security of local residents. The expenditure on food is the largest chunk of the household budget. The leading coping strategies included eating cheap/less nutritious food, less expenditures on education & health, cut the size of food, borrowing money/food. Lack of irrigation water, limited market access, climate extremes and high cost of fertilizers were the major production related constraints for small farmers in the study area. As a resort to these constraints and due to low output from the food crops, a shift from subsistence to cash-oriented crops (vegetables) was observed. Though different types SSNs – formal as well as informal – are available in the food insecure areas of Northwest Pakistan, access to most of the SSNs depends on political and/or social capital.

Coordinators: Dr. Ulrike Mueller-Boeker (Zurich University, Switzerland) & Dr. Sagar R. Sharma (Kathmandu University, Nepal)

For More Information, Contact the Following Person:

Abid Qaiyum Suleri , Dr. Babar Shahbaz