Localizing Livelihoods: The Spatial Dimensions of Livelihood Strategies among Low-Income Households

Authors: Cecilia FĂ„hraeus*, Uppsala University
Topics: Economic Geography, Gender, Africa
Keywords: Livelihoods, Zambia, Africa, Informal Settlements, Mobility, Gender
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/13/2018
Start / End Time: 8:00 AM / 9:40 AM
Room: Muses, Sheraton, 8th Floor
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


The relationship between residential location and livelihood strategies has been explored through various studies that predominantly revolve around residential choice, commuting patterns and workplace location in the Global North. These findings are not immediately transplantable onto realities in the Global South, particularly sub-Saharan Africa, where the inability of the formal sector to deliver jobs and housing has given rise to a high degree of forced flexibility and adaptation of both residence and livelihoods that are not adequately captured by conventional models. In this paper, I scrutinize the relationship between residential location and livelihood strategies composed by low-income households in urban and peri-urban Lusaka, Zambia. More specifically, I explore through what activities people in informal settlements make a living and where these activities are being carried out. The study is guided by the fundamental assumption that livelihood choice is shaped by opportunities and constraints offered in the residential location. Applying accessibility as a key concept, I analyse to what extent settlements with varying degrees of access to employment centres, markets and natural resources also express variations in livelihood portfolios, or if access is rather negotiated through variations in mobility. The aim has further been to determine whether these activities and patterns are intersected by gendered norms, thus leading to different outcomes for women and men. Results have been generated through survey data and analysed both manually and in ArcGIS.

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