An assessment of rural livelihood systems in selected communities in the Northern Region of Ghana

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This thesis uses the sustainable rural livelihoods framework to investigate the livelihoods systems of rural communities in Northern Region of Ghana. The communities in the area are among the poorest in Ghana and are largely dependent on natural capital for their survival. It is argued that livelihood systems in the area are complex, varied and dynamic, and that for development to be sustainable, it needs to be informed by a thorough understanding of the many factors that shape the context in which livelihoods are generated. The research is based primarily on ‘in-depth’ micro-studies of four villages in the region. It includes a detailed assessment of the extent of the various factors that make households vulnerable to livelihood shocks, trends and seasonality. The roles of the natural resource base, and the under-development of infrastructure and services in the area, are discussed in relation to livelihood prospects. A systems approach is used to examine the various ways in which livestock husbandry, crop farming, natural resource use, employment and migration interact. Finally, the thesis examines in some detail the distribution of household assets, livelihood strategies and livelihood outcomes within the four villages. The study revealed certain livelihood challenges that rural folks grapple with. Generally low levels of assets (particularly natural, human, financial and physical) were found. It was discovered that rural folks engage in diverse activities to make ends meet or survive. The thesis also made suggestions of how to circumvent or resolve the major challenges discovered in rural livelihoods.
A Thesis submitted to the School of Graduate Studies Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology, Kumasi in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Science in Development Policy and Planning.