Activity 4: Mapping livelihood ecologies for farming households

Responsible Team Leader: Katharine McKinnon

Listen to an interview with Professor Katharine McKinnon about the progress, key learnings and next steps for Activity 4.

We’ll have this whole picture of a livelihood ecology and be able to understand what is looks like between the diversity of economic activities and household wellbeing on a broad level“.

Professor Katharine McKinnon


Building on the findings of Activities 1-3 (establishment of a baseline understanding of extensionists, households, farmers, and farms) this Activity will undertake participatory activities with farmer groups to map relational understandings of livelihoods and initiate the co-design of livelihood interventions.  

Participatory workshops will draw on Assets Based Community Development (ABCD) methods and apply community economies analysis (J. Gibson-Graham, Cameron, & Healy 2015; J.-K. Gibson-Graham et al. 2013). The aim of this activity is to gain gender-disagregated community level understandings of how farming families build livelihoods, and the range of existing material and non-material (relational) resources that are available and/or utilised. An additional aim of this activity is to establish farmer desires and capacities for change, investigating the dynamics of diverse household economies (McKinnon, Dombroski, & Morrow 2018) in order to tailor extension through social relations with supporting individuals and organisations (Activity 4). It will also establish key indicators for monitoring and evaluation as the project proceeds, and for comparison at the conclusion of the project, building on McKinnon’s expertise in community based indicators (Michelle Carnegie et al. 2019; McKinnon, Carnegie, Gibson, & Rowland 2016; McKinnon et al. 2018).

Participatory workshops will facilitate group-based activities to establish an overview of the diverse livelihood practices that sustain households and communities, (including paid and unpaid work on farm and off farm, and in the household), and offer analysis of how these differ for women and men. Based on and adapting existing suite of tools and approaches developed to track change in gendered economies in the Pacific (McKinnon et al. 2016; McKinnon et al. 2018) these workshops will establish an understanding of how significant practice change has occurred in the past, identifying the capacities and resources that already exist in the household, community, and regional scale (using ABCD approaches). Exact methods used will be adapted in response to the findings of Activity 2 and 3. Workshops may use 24 hour clock activities to explore the workloads of women and men in households and the gendered share of labour; map formal and informal economic networks using a ‘benefits mapping’ tool, and use ‘most significant change’ stories and ‘H-diagram’ to explore key elements of practice change. Community economies analysis will identify existing livelihoods strategies that secure aspects of community wellbeing, and pathways that are likely to support further improvements according to farmers aspirations and priorities.

Sub-Research Questions

RQ4.1: What are the diverse economic practices and strategies used to build livelihoods for women and men in smallholder households in Northwest Cambodia (including paid and unpaid work on farm and off farm, and in the household)?

RQ4.2: What are existing material and non-material assets and resources available, and/or being utilised to support diverse livelihoods practices?

RQ4.3: What are the needs, desires, and aspirations of women and men in smallholder households (i.e. what does a ‘good life’ look like?)

RQ4.4: What have farmers done and what are farmers doing to achieve these aims?

RQ4.5: What agricultural extension interventions have smallholder households experienced, including knowledge of these efforts?

Approaches (Methods)

  • Community economies/ABCD workshops.

Watch a presentation from Professor Katharine McKinnon about the aims, research questions and approaches of Activity 4.