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The Sustainable Livelihoods approach is a holistic and flexible framework for understanding, measuring, and analyzing poverty and poverty alleviation. Unlike many traditional models which measure poverty by a single factor like low income, a Sustainable Livelihoods approach takes into account a variety of economic, social, political, and ecological factors that impact a person's ability to sustain a livelihood.

The Sustainable Livelihoods approach puts poor people themselves at the center of any analysis. It takes into account the complexities of poverty: what level of skills or knowledge an individual has, whether or not they have access to education, sources of credit, networks of social support, and how vulnerable they are to economic stressors like natural disasters or fluctuations in food prices.

Using a Sustainable Livelihoods approach involves recognizing not just what assets a poor person lacks–financial, human, social, physical, and natural assets–but also what assets they do have, and builds interventions based on both their capacities and needs.

CEMREST believes in people and their capacity to make a difference in their own lives. That's why we use the Sustainable Livelihoods framework to help guide all of our programs. The approach identifies the main constraints and also the opportunities that are a part of life for poor people. It builds on everyday realities, and then supports poor people as they address their constraints and take advantage of opportunities.