Markets and Livelihoods

This page includes technical resources and tools, training materials, learning documents, research, and more.

A woman selling green produce holds bowls with round green produce in her hand and on her head.
Slavisa Trtic Trle, Mercy Corps

About

Given the multiple overlapping crises that many countries are facing, aid practitioners need to be prepared to adapt their market and livelihoods programming to move beyond standard models.

Over the past five years, the USAID Bureau for Humanitarian Assistance (BHA)-funded SCALE award has developed and adapted a suite of learning materials, technical tools, capacity strengthening resources, and research studies to help implementing partners to apply familiar concepts to new contexts and populations. These resources, featured below, can support markets and livelihoods programming around youth, employment, emergencies, and access to finance.

If you or your organization are interested in learning more about the Markets and Livelihoods resources on this page, please contact SCALE (scale@mercycorps.org).


Market Systems Approaches

Comparing Standard and Market Systems Development Approaches to Rural Employment (FR) 2021
This document describes how MSD approaches differ from more standard approaches, particularly with regards to labor markets and employment programs. The report dives into how MSD can be applied to more sustainably support rural employment programs and highlights several projects taking this approach.  

Market-based Approaches to Alternative Livelihoods: Lessons from Bangladesh and Nepal 2019
In this webinar experts from the Nobo Jatra program (World Vision, Bangladesh) and Sabal program (Save the Children, Nepal) delved into market-based approaches to alternative livelihoods within USAID/FFP initiatives. Listen to practical experiences, successes, and challenges in engaging the private sector and working with women and youth. 

Building Household Resilience with Inclusive Financial and Market Systems 2019
This webinar examined how the USAID/FFP-funded ENSURE DFSA in Zimbabwe enhanced household-level resilience through an integrated systems approach to financial inclusion, value chain support, and market systems development. 

Emergency and Early Recovery

Applying Adaptive Management to Livelihoods in Emergency Settings: Challenges and Opportunities (FR) 2022
This technical brief invites an alternative perspective to adaptive management, which is a way of working that starts with an assumption of uncertainty around how to address a particular challenge, and provides an overview of how adaptive management can be applied to livelihoods and markets work in emergencies. The foundation of this brief is a literature review of over 85 documents and resources on adaptive management in humanitarian settings. 

Resources to Strengthen Adaptive Management for Livelihoods Programming in Emergency Settings 2022
This document accompanies the Applying Adaptive Management to Livelihoods in Emergency Settings brief above, and focuses on existing tools that can be used for livelihoods and markets work in emergencies -- where to find them and when to use them.

Market-Based Programming Framework (AR) (ES) (FR) 2022
This framework was designed to help humanitarian actors understand market approaches in fragile contexts. Market-based programming or market-based interventions are understood to be projects that work through or support local markets and contribute to positive market systems change. The terms cover all types of engagement with market systems, ranging from actions that deliver immediate relief to those that proactively strengthen and catalyze local market systems or market hubs. 

Market-Based Programming and Shelter (AR) (ES) (FR) 2022
This simple guide is for shelter practitioners on implementing market-based programming in humanitarian and development responses.

Livelihoods in Migration Contexts and the growing challenge of Climate Change
This paper emerged from a SCALE Learning Group on migrations and livelihoods. It encourages new thinking on livelihoods programming in migration contexts (including those caused by climate change). It also provides links to existing resources and explores how practitioners can use these resources to address livelihoods and migration challenges.

  • Webinar: Rethinking Migration: Challenge or Opportunity? 2021
    This armchair chat with practitioners and researchers looked at existing assumptions about economic migration and its role in development, with examples from El Salvador, Nepal, Niger, and Zimbabwe. Due to the lively discussion, this webinar sparked a Learning Group and follow-on paper.

Evidence of Impact Livelihoods Study (COMING SOON in 2022)
This study focuses on the potential of digital solutions to stabilize and improve the livelihoods of repeatedly displaced populations by exploring the International Rescue Committee’s (IRC) cash and voucher assistance programming in Niger. IRC/Niger’s approach has evolved over the years from a cash and paper-based approach to digital approaches. This evolution, which happened over successive funding cycles, offers an opportunity to examine the strengths, weaknesses, and impact of the approach, as well as learn from its iterative process.

  • Webinar: Evidence of Impact Livelihoods Study Findings (COMING SOON in 2022
Youth

A Guide and Cheat Sheet for Resilience Food Security Activities: How to Engage Youth in Alternative Livelihoods 2021
This guide is a "cheat sheet" to the many thoughtful and evidence-based youth-focused tools and guidance that exist in the international development world. It is designed to point implementers to the most relevant materials, including key knowledge platforms, approaches, and considerations, for supporting youth alternative livelihoods (off-farm and non-farm work) within BHA-funded food security programs. 

Putting Youth in the Lead: Technical Guidance for Youth-Led Market Assessments 2019
This technical guidance note is primarily written for project staff working on USAID Office of Food for Peace (FFP)-funded activities with a heavy focus on understanding and strengthening economic opportunities for youth populations. It outlines distinct advantages, unique challenges, and key resources for facilitating youth-led market assessments.

Financial Inclusion

Private Service Provider (PSP) Online Course (FR) (COMING SOON in 2022)
This course aims to equip staff, principally project officers and field supervisors, to train and support field agents to form, train, and supervise community-based savings groups, and to become successful and self-sufficient private service providers. The PSP model, developed by Catholic Relief Services (CRS), sees that savings groups are formed, trained and supported by networks of community-based, fee-for-service trainers in order to ensure sustainability.

  • Webinar: PSP Online Course Launch 2022
    This webinar explored the Savings and Internal Lending Communities (SILC) methodology and the Private Service Provider (PSP) model, and included a demonstration of the new PSP Online Course.

Managing Savings Groups: Training for SILC Field Supervisors Course 2022
This course aims to train and support field agents to implement high quality savings group projects. The course includes a series of videos, reading, and activities based on Catholic Relief Services' Savings and Internal Lending (SILC) methodology. Based on the SILC Field Agent Guide, this course is designed for both field agents and those who train and supervise field agents*.

*This course was developed by Mercy Corps and Catholic Relief Services and is a companion course to the PSP Online Course.