Endpiece: The politics of livelihood opportunity
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This brief article draws together some of the conclusions of the Sustainable Livelihoods in Southern Africa programme. This research has sought to move beyond simple technical/managerial "good governance" solutions to sketch the contours of a realistic, but politically sophisticated, sustainable livelihoods approach. The key policy challenges include: instituting real redistributive reforms, particularly of land; redressing imbalances in market entry and engagement; making decentralisation really work to poor people's advantage; and realising rights increasingly enshrined in progressive legislative frameworks. These face formidable obstacles - and a sustainable livelihoods approach must be rooted in an understanding of the historical legacies and contemporary political/administrative and economic contexts in southern Africa. Such an endeavour would, for example, support mobilisation, lobbying, civic organisation and new alliances around a pluralist and activist politics for livelihood improvement and create links to party-based democratic politics; build on and transform forms of patrimonialism and establish strategic linkages between elites and the poor, and abandon the artificial and misleading separation of public/private, state/non-state in both analysis and prescription.