The goal of any viable solution or humanitarian program must be to move the affected population to a state of sustainable livelihood.
The term 'sustainable livelihood' was first used as a development concept in the early 1990s. Chambers and Conway (1991) defined a sustainable livelihood as follows:
"A livelihood comprises people, their capabilities and their means of living, including food, income and assets. Tangible assets are resources and stores, and intangible assets are claims and access.
A livelihood is environmentally sustainable when it maintains or enhances the local and global assets in which livelihoods depend, and has net beneficial effects on other livelihoods. A livelihood is socially sustainable which can cope with and recover from stress and shocks, and provide for future generations."
Partners International Foundation uses the approach of ensuring partners and people have the right knowledge, understanding, skills, abilities, and tangible resources to achieve, maintain, or re-establish sustainable livelihoods for the people.
To attain and maintain sustainable livelihood first requires acquiring the appropriate knowledge of the population and other influencing factors. Since knowledge, by definition, is merely "information in the mind", the ultimate goal at the knowledge and understanding stage of the developmental model is to achieve understanding of that knowledge, the needs and requirements, and the interrelationships of the factors within the domain. Only through understanding can issues be comprehended and solutions formed.
The next step in the model is to assess the skills resident in the population and intervention partners as well as the ability of each group to exercise those skills using the understanding to quantify the challenges, develop, then implement solutions. These can be technical and non technical. Training and education at all levels coupled with a life-long learning approach are key enablers for this element.
Finally, it is important to identify and provide the tangible resources in terms of 7 capital forms (Political, Natural, Economic, Infrastructure, Cultural, Social, and Human) required to support attaining the required knowledge, Understanding, skills, and abilities to achieve and maintain sustainable livelihood. Technology research, development, and effective deployment are key enablers of this element. Throughout this process a continual “gap analysis” is conducted to identify the gaps in each area then develop strategies to fill them in an environment of continual improvement.
Partner's International Foundation executes independently and with program partners from all areas to develop the knowledge and understanding, identify the Skills, Abilities and Tangible Resources available among the potential partners, host nations and peoples both available and required to achieve, maintain, or re-establish sustainable livelihoods. Solutions are then rapidly implemented and objectively evaluated using a customer focused approach.