The Bartlett Development Planning Unit


Exploring the Contributions of the Capability Approach to the People First Strategy

The Case of VSO’s Livelihoods Programmes

VSO report

5 September 2018

By Alexander Apsan Frediani and Julian Walker

Drawing on field reports and inputs from:
Alun Cledwyn, Natasha Menon and Rose Ziaei

The University College London Development Planning Unit (DPU) and VSO collaboration has focused on developing strategic and methodological inputs which support the application of VSO’s ‘People First’ Strategy. This strategy aims to structure VSO’s contribution to the fight against global poverty and to put people at the centre of VSO’s work. The focus of DPU’s collaboration with VSO is to develop and test tools and methods based on the Capability Approach (CA), drawing on the work of Amartya Sen and others, as a means of operationalising the ‘People First’ strategy in the livelihoods programmatic work of VSO. Essentially, the capability approach explores people’s aspirations, both as individuals and as collectives, in terms of, for example, expansion of income, dignity, lifestyle, values and people as agents of change. Crucially, the approach also explores people’s freedom to achieve these aspirations, that is, whether they have the opportunities to use their abilities and capacities to achieve these aspirations.
achieve these aspirations.

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Image © VSO/Ginny Lattul