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Sustainable Livelihoods: Surviving to Thriving

Imagine... every person has a sustainable livelihood and contributes to their community. This is the vision that guides Momentum’s work.

  • Article
  • Our impact
  • Policy and research

Thu May 2, 2024 by Momentum Staff

At Momentum we understand that success for participants requires diving deeper than income. A sustainable livelihood is “the capabilities, assets, and activities required for a means of living. A livelihood is sustainable when it can cope with and recover from stresses and shocks, maintain or enhance its capabilities and assets both now and in the future”*. Supporting participants towards a sustainable livelihood requires empowering participants to develop tools to weather the unknowns in life.

At the end of 2018, Momentum launched an evaluation project using the Sustainable Livelihoods Framework to measure the holistic and long-term impacts of our work. We wanted to understand how the programs offered at Momentum were creating a lasting difference in participants lives, and we wanted to apply those learnings to improve the work that we do.

We also understand that it can take time to make changes in one’s life and move towards a sustainable livelihood, which is why we continue to follow-up with participants over a two-year period. Starting in 2023, we began sharing a snapshot of the results of this work through our Sustainable Livelihoods Brief. You can see our most recent publication here.

In 2023, Momentum’s Strategy was updated to include an Income First perspective to our programming. Here are a few ways that our participants showed their successes with their income:

  • 69% of participants increased their income,
  • 102% increase in income ($29,000) was seen for those that grew their income, and
  • Participants receiving income support decreased from 31% to 12% in two years.

“The Youth Fair Gains program really helped me become more financially responsible and financially independent. When I started this program I was still on learners’ income support, now I work enough to support myself and I am attending school and volunteering. This program not only taught me how to manage my money better, but also how to set and achieveshort- and long-term goals, self-reliance, and keep commitments.” – YFG 2019 graduate

Overall, participants have demonstrated impressive success, despite having to navigate the challenges of the COVD-19 pandemic and all the economic challenges that followed. Momentum participants shared results that demonstrated growth in skills and knowledge, self-confidence, money management skills, and income, as well as improved debt management, living situation (housing), and employment.

Here are a few other ways that participants told us about their successes and progress towards a sustainable livelihood:

  • 63% of participants moved closer to a sustainable livelihood,
  • 90% of participants were more hopeful about the future, 
  • 84% of participants demonstrated an increase in skills and knowledge, and
  • Participants that had emergency savings increased from 22% to 40%. 

“The Momentum program was life changing for me. Before taking the courses at Momentum, I was working in demolition and had no hope for a future career in the trades. This program opened a new area for me to go into. I feel more confidence in my future as a plumber.” – PPL 2021 graduate

Using the Sustainable Livelihoods Framework, we are able to see the measurable impact of our work within the lives of our participants. It shows that our vision is something we can and should continue striving for: where every person has a sustainable livelihood and contributes to their community. With every program graduation, every small business launched, and every participant empowered to manage their finances we move one step closer to creating a thriving local economy for all.

Read our complete Sustainable Livelihoods Report.

*UK Department for International Development (DFID). (1999)