GLOBAL KNOWLEDGE FOR GLOBAL CHANGE

Vulnerability and Poverty Reduction

The Vulnerability and Poverty Reduction (VPR) Team aims to construct dynamic and multi-dimensional perspectives on vulnerability and poverty in order to transform thinking, policy and practice.

Vulnerability is a major obstacle to social and economic development. Poor people are especially vulnerable, as they have few buffers or resources to cope with hazards or shocks. They are also significantly more likely to be affected by ill-health, unemployment, trade shocks, famine or conflict. If we are to achieve sustainable poverty reduction, we must improve our understanding of vulnerability.

The team aims to develop responses to vulnerability that give greater agency and voice to vulnerable and poor people, and that engage policymakers and practitioners.

About the team

The members of the Vulnerability and Poverty Reduction Team seek to bring human beings to the centre of their analysis and their engagement. We work to understand women’s, men’s, and children’s experiences of vulnerability, poverty and justice. We believe both empirical evidence and innovative conceptual thinking are needed to better understand poverty and vulnerability and to support engagement with policy and practice. Learning from multifaceted perspectives ultimately leads to more effective efforts to reduce poverty, improve wellbeing and enhance social justice.

The team works to understand poverty and vulnerability from the perspective of individual people and households. We also engage with other levels of social, economic and political processes, including households, communities, regions, states and global systems), as well as to an understanding of changing natural environments.

The team has six core agendas for research and policy engagement:

  • To build a better understanding of the relationships between vulnerability and the dynamics of poverty in specific country and community contexts. We look at why poverty persists and how people move into and out of poverty. 
  • To engage with policymakers and practitioners to promote development policies that address the relationship between vulnerability and poverty. Addressing this relationship will help people to strengthen their resilience and lead to more socially just outcomes.
  • To understand how peoples’ lives and livelihoods are affected by changes in the social, economic and political contexts where they live.
  • To understand how people’s identity and social and physical location affects the way they experience change. We look at important factors including gender, age and ethnic or linguistic identity, along with social status, wealth, and location in rural, peri-urban or urban areas. 
  • To understand which types of policy – including social policy, social protection, regulation and microfinance – are effective in addressing vulnerability and poverty.
  • To explore how new information and communication technologies (ICTs) help us understanding and address vulnerability and poverty.

We tackle these research agendas in four main areas:

Poverty, Inequality and Wellbeing

VPR is the go-to place for new thinking and ideas on poverty, inequality and wellbeing. Our research challenges orthodox views on how poverty is understood and how policy can accelerate poverty reduction.

Social Protection 

The Centre for Social Protection is a global hub for research, policy analysis, and capacity building on social protection.

Conflict, Violence and Development

VPR leads work on violent conflict and the individual and group processes that lead to or result from conflict. We also analyse how violence is linked to institutional and social norms. We co-ordinate the Households in Conflict Network (HICN) and MICROCON: A Micro Level Analysis of Violent Conflict.

Vulnerability, Hunger and Nutrition 

VPR researches how to tackle the crisis of hunger and undernutrition. While undernutrition is increasingly a priority on the international development agenda, the knowledge base on how to accelerate undernutrition reductions has stalled. VPR’s work, including the Transform Nutrition Programme and the LANSA programme aims to address this knowledge gap and promote better nutrition outcomes.

In addition to these core areas, VPR also undertakes work on a number of other themes:

Team members are undertaking research work on the  Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and beyond.

Members of VPR worked  with the Imp-Act programme to improve the quality of microfinance services and enhance their impact on poverty. The programme supports microfinance institutions  in developing social performance management systems.

Dramatic changes brought about by information and communication technologies (ICTs) have created new economic and social opportunities the world over. Access to and the strategic use of information and communications technologies (ICTs) have been shown to have the potential to help bring about economic development, poverty reduction, and democratisation and as such form a key part of VPR's research.  

The Vulnerability and Poverty Reduction (VPR) team's research and advisory work on agriculture and food security covers a number of issues. These include land rights, livelihoods and food insecurity and linkages between fair trade producers and the mainstream supermarkets.

By 2030, 60 per cent of the global population will live in towns and cities. In Africa and Asia the urban population is set to double in the next two decades, while the urban share of global poverty is increasing. VPR are building on years of research to examine the role of cities in relation to poverty and vulnerability.

PhD applications

VPR considers DPhil applications twice yearly in October and March, for students to begin their research the following September in line with the academic year.

Given our aim of integrating PhD research with ongoing IDS work, prospective applicants are strongly advised to make contact with a VPR fellow specialising in their chosen field before submitting a formal application. All candidates are required to submit a research proposal (3,500 words max) (link to guidelines below) together with a CV. For further information, please contact d.shenton@ids.ac.uk.

VPR guidelines for developing a DPhil research proposal

All candidates are required to submit a research proposal (3,500 words max) detailing what you wish to investigate, how you intend to conduct the research and how you think your research will fit within the team's research strategy.

The proposal should be structured around the following areas:

  1. Working title
  2. Problem statement (approx 750 words) - A detailed statement of the topic you intend to research. You need to show your understanding of the general subject area and explain how your chosen research fits into this. Include a rationale for why you think the work you wish to undertake is of importance. 
  3. Key objectives (approx 500 words) - Outline the main objectives of your research.
  4. Three key research questions (approx 500 words) - Clearly formulate your research questions. Explain what problems or issues you wish to explore and why you wish to explore them.
  5. Methodology and data (approx 1000 words) - What are the methods and approaches that you plan to use to address your research questions? Explain why this is the most appropriate methodology, and include evidence that you have determined the accessibility of data and any potential difficulties that might be faced during data collection. 
  6. Fit with VPR research agenda (approx 750 words) - Demonstrate how your proposed research is relevant to the interest and expertise available in the VPR team, and how it fits within the team's research agenda.
  7. Identify a possible supervisor from the team to oversee your research.

Key contact

Photo of Deborah Shenton, Team Administrative Coordinator, Vulnerability and Poverty Reduction

T: +44 (0)1273 915760

E: d.shenton@ids.ac.uk

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Team Members

Alia Aghajanian PhD student

E: a.aghajanian@ids.ac.uk

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Photo of Ana Solorzano

E: a.solorzano@ids.ac.uk

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Photo of Becky Mitchell

T: +44 (0)1273 915706

E: b.mitchell@ids.ac.uk

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Photo of Cathérine Müller, Vulnerability and Poverty Reduction research team

E: c.mueller2@ids.ac.uk

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Photo of Chris Bene, ASP Programme Lead & Research Fellow, Vulnerability ad Poverty Reduction

T: +44 (0)1273 915873

E: c.bene@ids.ac.uk

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Photo of Deborah Shenton, Team Administrative Coordinator, Vulnerability and Poverty Reduction

T: +44 (0)1273 915760

E: d.shenton@ids.ac.uk

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Photo of Deborah West

T: +44 (0)1273 915688

E: d.west@ids.ac.uk

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Photo of Deepta Chopra, IDS Vulnerability and Poverty Reduction Research Fellow

T: +44 (0)1273 915808

E: d.chopra@ids.ac.uk

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Photo of Dolf te Lintelo

T: +44 (0)1273 915767

E: d.telintelo@ids.ac.uk

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Photo of Evangelia Berdou, Vulnerability and Poverty Reduction team

T: +44 (0)1273 915652

E: e.berdou@ids.ac.uk

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E: g.koehler@ids.ac.uk

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Photo of Inka Barnett

E: inkab@ids.ac.uk

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Photo of Allister McGregor, IDS Vulnerability and Poverty Reduction research fellow

T: +44 (0)1273 915646

E: j.a.mcgregor@ids.ac.uk

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Photo of Jaideep Gupte, Research Fellow with Vulnerability and Poverty Reduction Team

T: +44 (0)1273 915656

E: j.gupte@ids.ac.uk

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Jean Pierre Tranchant is a Research Fellow with the Vulnerability and Poverty Reduction Team

E: jp.tranchant@ids.ac.uk

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Jeremey Lind is a Research Fellow with Vulnerability and Poverty Reduction Team

T: +44 (0)1273 915747

E: j.lind@ids.ac.uk

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Photo of Jessica Gordon, Nutrition Evaluation Programme Manager

T: +44 (0)1273 915748

E: j.gordon@ids.ac.uk

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Photo of Julia Powell, Communications Manager, Vulnerability and Poverty Reduction Team

T: +44 (0)1273 915609

E: j.powell@ids.ac.uk

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IDS staff or research student

E: k.sethaputra@ids.ac.uk

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Photo of Keetie Roelen, Research Fellow in the Centre for Social Protection, IDS

T: +44 (0)1273 915824

E: k.roelen@ids.ac.uk

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IDS staff or research student

E: k.preibisch@ids.ac.uk

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Photo of Leah Plati, Administrator, Vulnerability and Poverty Reduction Team

T: +44 (0)1273 915832

E: l.plati@ids.ac.uk

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Photo of Elizabeth O'Brien

T: +44 (0)1273 915813

E: e.o'brien@ids.ac.uk

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IDS staff or research student

T: +44 (0)1273 915786

E: m.kuss@ids.ac.uk

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Photo of Marika Djolai, DPhil Student with the Vulnerability and Poverty Reduction research team

T: +44 (0)1273 915843

E: m.djolai@ids.ac.uk

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Photo of Martin Greeley, IDS Research Fellow

T: +44 (0)1273 915749

E: m.greeley@ids.ac.uk

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IDS staff or research student

E: m.tauson@ids.ac.uk

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IDS staff or research student

E: m.handino@ids.ac.uk

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Photo of Nick Nisbett, IDS Research Fellow in the Vulnerability and Poverty Reduction team

T: +44 (0)1273 915839

E: n.c.nisbett@ids.ac.uk

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Photo of Patricia Justino, IDS Vulnerability and Poverty Reduction Research Fellow

T: +44 (0)1273 915752

E: p.justino@ids.ac.uk

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picture of Rachel Sabates Wheeler

T: +44 (0)1273 915759

E: r.sabates-wheeler@ids.ac.uk

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Rajith Lakshman photo

T: +44 (0)1273 915611

E: r.lakshman@ids.ac.uk

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E: r.santos@ids.ac.uk

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Photo of Sir Richard Jolly

T: +44 (0)1273 915880

E: r.jolly@ids.ac.uk

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Photo of Richard Longhurst, a Research Associate with Vulnerability and Poverty Reduction Team

T: +44 (0)1273 915751

E: r.longhurst@ids.ac.uk

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Photo of Roger Williamson

E: r.williamson@ids.ac.uk

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IDS staff or research student

E: r.oronje@ids.ac.uk

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Photo of Samantha Reddin

T: +44 (0)1273 915764

E: s.reddin@ids.ac.uk

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Sarah King, VPR team administrator

T: 01273 915 5714

E: s.king@ids.ac.uk

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Photo of Stephen Devereux, IDS Vulnerability and Poverty Reduction Research Fellow

T: +44 (0)1273 915760

E: s.devereux@ids.ac.uk

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IDS staff or research student

E: t.kato@ids.ac.uk

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Photo of Terry Cannon, IDS research fellow

T: +44 (0)1273 915812

E: t.cannon@ids.ac.uk

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IDS staff or research student

T: +44 (0)1273 915726

E: t.nelis@ids.ac.uk

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Ting Yang photo

E: t.yang@ids.ac.uk

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Photo of Yashodan Ghorpade

E: y.ghorpade@ids.ac.uk

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Researching the Links between Social Protection and Children’s Care

This project aims to investigate the links between social protection and children's care. More details

Not Just Talk: Practice, Power, Knowledge and Information and Communication Technologies (TPPI)

Not Just Talk: Practice, Power, Knowledge and Information and Communication Technologies is a new IDS research initiative that seeks to critically examine the opportunities and challenges that the new generation of ICT innovations pose for poor and vulnerable groups. More details

Assessment of the Impact of Gender Equality Programming on Humanitarian Outcomes

This project will develop understanding of how and under what conditions GEP has or has not contributed to improved humanitarian outcomes. It will accumulate an evidence base that can be harnessed to inform decision makers' discussions in the area of GEP, and inform the design of gender-responsive humanitarian interventions. More details

Technical Assistance to Support UNICEF and the Government of Chad to Develop and Implement Social Protection in Chad

The need for social protection is especially urgent in chronically food insecure countries and in countries affected by climate change. Funded by UNICEF Chad, the objective is to support the Government of Chad to develop a national social protection strategy. More details

Impact Evaluation of DFID Programme to Accelerate Improved Nutrition for the Extreme Poor in Bangladesh

The DFID Programme to Accelerate Improved Nutrition for the Extreme Poor in Bangladesh aims to improve nutrition outcomes for children, mothers and adolescent girls by integrating the delivery of a number of nutrition specific (or direct) interventions with livelihood support provided to extremely poor people by three existing programmes in Bangladesh. More details

Measuring Well-Being for Development: A Primer

The OECD Development Centre has commissioned Allister McGregor to write "Guidelines on Measuring Progress for Development". More details

Hunger And Nutrition Commitment Index - HANCI

HANCI measures and ranks governments’ political commitment to reduce hunger and undernutrition on an annual basis. More details

Burundi Graduation Programme Evaluation

In December 2012, Concern Burundi launched its 'Graduation Model Programme' in two provinces in Burundi to work with extremely poor and marginalised communities. More details

AFSPAN (Aquaculture for Food Security, Poverty Alleviation and Nutrition)

Aquaculture is widely considered as important for enhancing food security, alleviating poverty and improving nutrition. However, little information is available concerning the direct and indirect impacts of aquaculture on food security and poverty alleviation in most developing countries and LIFDCs. More details

Resilience, Adaptability, and Transformability of Fishing Communities in the Face of the World Fisheries Crisis

This project is a response to the initial DFID-ESRC 'Resource scarcity, growth, and poverty reduction' call and it is titled "Tangled in their (own) safety-nets?: Resilience, adaptability, and transformability of fishing communities in the face of the World fisheries crisis. More details

Future Research Leaders ‘Reducing Poverty in the First 18 years of Life'

This proposed research responds to these concerns by using monetary and non-monetary measures to analyse child poverty dynamics, assessing overlaps and mismatches between those measures and investigating reasons for potential differences More details

Higher Level Panel of Experts Report on Social Protection and Food Security

The Committee on World Food Security (CFS) requested the HLPE to produce a report, to be presented at the 39th Session of the CFS, a study on social protection and food security. More details

Impact Evaluation of the PSNP and HAPB 2012

Since 2003, the Government of Ethiopia (GoE) has been implementing a new Food Security Programme (FSP). In 2009, this programme was reviewed and reformulated. More details

Community Cooperation in Post-Conflict Bosnia

This project will investigate what determines the level of community cooperation in the post-conflict period. More details

Undernutrition and Public Policy in India

This research seeks to inform and influence the current state of debate in India on the issue of malnutrition and food security. More details

UN MONUSCO/World Bank DRC Consultancy

The primary objective of the consultancy is to support the development of a coordinated approach to monitoring and evaluation for the Peace Consolidation programme (PCP) in DRC. More details

Social Cash Transfer Programme Zambia

The Centre for Social Protection (CSP) at IDS are currently working on this large scale study, which provides an opportunity to carry out work systematically on under-researched aspects of social protection delivery and impact. More details

DAC Development Debate

On 13 June 2012 the Development Assistance Committee (DAC) hosted its third DAC Development Debate (DDD). Centring on the theme New poverty patterns: Where will the poor live? More details

Adaptive Social Protection: Migration as an Adaptive Response and the Role of Cash Transfers

Project led by Sussex University to research migration as an adaptive response to climate change and the role of cash transfers. More details

States Delivering for Poor People

This project entails an initial scoping study in Rajasthan and Western UP to firm up research questions that are relevant and useful for understanding the politics and implementation of the MGNREGA. More details

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Non-IDS publication

Revolutionary Government of Zanzibar: Zanzibar Social Protection Policy

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Fieldwork in the Global South

The chapters cover fieldwork carried out in countries across Africa, Asia, and Latin America on a broad sweep of development-related topics. This book should have wide appeal to undergraduates, postgraduates, and early-career researchers working under the broad umbrella of development studies. More details

Exercising my Rights: Ethical Choices and Moral Predicaments in Accessing Government Documents

This book should have wide appeal to undergraduates, postgraduates, and early-career researchers working under the broad umbrella of development studies. Although focused on fieldwork in the Global South, the discussions and reflections are relevant to field research in many other countries and contexts. More details

image for non-ids publications

Civilian Resistance to Rebel Governance

This paper presents a theory of civilian resistance against armed groups’ rule. It argues that rebel or paramilitary governance limited to the spheres of public order and tax collection tends to trigger only partial resistance—that is, opposition to some aspects of rule, without demanding its removal. More details

Development and Welfare Policy in South Asia

This book sheds light on social policies in six South Asian countries introduced between 2003 and 2013, examining the ways in which these policies have come about, and what this reflects about the nature of the state in each of these countries. More details

This is the cover to IDS Policy Briefing 51, 'Connecting Unpaid Care Work and Childhood Development
for Gains in Women and Children’s Rights'.

Connecting Unpaid Care Work and Childhood Development for Gains in Women and Children’s Rights

Women’s rights and children’s rights directly influence each other, yet there have been few successes at tackling the agendas collaboratively thus limiting the quality of policy and practice in both areas. More details

This is the cover to CDI Practice Paper 6, 'Evaluating Outside the Box: Mixing Methods in Analysing Social Protection Programmes'.

Evaluating Outside the Box: Mixing Methods in Analysing Social Protection Programmes

This CDI Practice Paper by Keetie Roelen and Stephen Devereux reflects on the methodological implications of operationalising an expanded framework for evaluating social protection programmes. More details

This is the image for IDS Policy Briefing 48, 'Undercurrents of Violence:
Why Sierra Leone’s Political Settlement is not Working'.

Undercurrents of Violence: Why Sierra Leone’s Political Settlement is not Working

Debates over violence, security, humanitarian and development imperatives have long been polarised. More details

This is the cover for IDS Working Paper 436, 'An Economics of Wellbeing:
What Would Economics Look Like if it were Focused on Human Wellbeing?'

An Economics of Wellbeing: What Would Economics Look Like if it were Focused on Human Wellbeing?

This paper makes a number of fundamental proposals to reconsider economics by putting human wellbeing at the centre. More details

IDS publications on international development research

CALL FOR PAPERS: Rethinking Urbanisation and Equity in Asia: Harnessing the Potential of Urban Living for All Children

This multi-disciplinary conference seeks to investigate and explore the question of how issues of urban inclusion can be addressed to support equitable access to services and livelihood options, particularly for the most marginalised and excluded children in Asia. More details

Teaser image for Policy Briefing 49

Towards Gender Equality with Care-sensitive Social Protection

Unpaid care work and social protection are intrinsically linked. In order to address this challenge, policies must recognise the value of women’s work, shift the burden of care work away from women and families and improve access to the vital services that will help improve women and girls’ wellbeing. More details

This is the cover image of the book, 'A Micro-Level Perspective on the Dynamics of Conflict, Violence and Development'.

A Micro-Level Perspective on the Dynamics of Conflict, Violence and Development

Published by Oxford University Press, this volume presents an innovative new analytical framework for understanding the dynamics of violent conflict and its impact on people and communities living in contexts of violence. More details

Image teaser for ER46

Country Progress Report (2012-2013): Nigeria

IDS is partnering with ActionAid International (AAI) to help each of the four ActionAid countries to develop and implement an advocacy strategy on making unpaid care work visible in public policy, as well as integrate unpaid care work issues into each country’s programming. More details

Making the Urban Poor Safe: Lessons from Nairobi and Maharashtra

Making the Urban Poor Safer: Lessons from Nairobi and Maharashtra

The most impoverished neighbourhoods of Nairobi and Mumbai are characterised by severe lack of service provision, poor access to employment opportunities and urban violence. More details

Image Teaser for ER41

'Marriage Above All Else': The Push for Heterosexual, Nuclear Families in the Making of South Africa's White Paper on Families

This report comments on the policymaking processes that led to the development of the White Paper on Families as it exists in its current iteration (November 2012). More details

Image teaser for ER39

Missing the Point: Violence Reduction and Policy Misadventures in Nairobi's Poor Neighbourhoods

Violence and crime are part of everyday life in many of Nairobi’s poor urban neighbourhoods. More details

IDS publications on international development research

Responding to Security Threats: Livelihoods Under Protracted Conflict

Populations affected by violent conflicts often withstand threats to their security as well as threats to their livelihoods. Their response to the former threats nontrivially affects their response to the latter threats, and vice versa. More details

Non-IDS publication

Urban Settings as an Opportunity for Realizing All Child Rights

This brief focuses on the challenges posed by urban poverty and exclusion, and the need to ensure that urban settings live up to their potential for realizing the rights of all children as the region continues to develop rapidly. More details

This is the image for IDS Working Paper 434, 'Towards a Quantifiable Measure of Resilience'.

Towards a Quantifiable Measure of Resilience

The objective of this paper is twofold. First it illustrates and discusses some of the challenges related to the measurement of resilience by reviewing some of the most recently published and grey literature on resilience in relation to food security. More details

Image Teaser for Evidence Report 25

The Hunger And Nutrition Commitment Index (HANCI 2012): Measuring Political Commitment to Reduce Hunger and Undernutrition

Measuring the Political Commitment to Reduce Hunger and Undernutrition in Developing Countries. Supported by Irish Aid, DFID Accountable Grant and Transform Nutrition. More details

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