ASEAN Journal of Community Engagement


Governments and other development stakeholders in many countries are increasingly investing in citizen and community empowerment as a key element in improving sustainable development outcomes. This focus hinges on the belief that putting communities at the fore front of their development and livelihood creation is an effective way to push communities to develop innovative ways of solving their own community problems and creating sustainable livelihoods. Botswana adopted this approach to development and the sustainable livelihoods approach (SLA) was engaged as one of the strategies for community empowerment and poverty alleviation. However, the SLA has not delivered the intended results so far. Thus, this paper argues that the SLA still has the capability to empower rural communities in Botswana to fight against poverty if appropriately used. The SLA focuses on people-centered sustainable development initiatives, which acknowledge that communities have strengths that need to be recognized and reinforced. This approach accepts that a livelihood is not only about economics, but involves capabilities, assets, and activities required for a means of living to cope with stress, recover, and provide sustainable livelihood opportunities for present and future generations. Based on this understanding, this paper sets out to contend that the SLA, despite its weaknesses, can still contribute effectively to the development agenda in Botswana’s rural areas. This paper is informed by a desk review of the literature and relevant documents, and personal experiences of community development/extension workers. Therefore, using the SLA as a theoretical framework, the main purpose of this paper is to explore opportunities and constraints of the Sustainable Livelihoods Approach in the empowerment of the rural communities of Botswana.


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