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NCCR North-South - Research Partnerships for Sustainable Development

Thank you for visiting the website of the Swiss National Centre of Competence in Research (NCCR) North-South. The NCCR North-South programme formally ended in June 2014.

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Human Security

Operationalising Human Security for Livelihood Protection

Analysis, Monitoring and Mitigation of Existential Threats by and for Local Communities

This project focuses on the scientific conceptualization and transfer to practical utility of the concept of human – individual and population-centered – security for the definition, early detection, and effective mitigation of vulnerability to negative effects of global change (syndromes) and local threats, and thus the provision and stabilization of sustainable livelihood strategies.


    Through its academic and practical work, the project participants endeavor to contribute to a) the academic debate on human and livelihood security, vulnerability and syndrome mitigation (mainly via publications and presentations); b) the operationalization of an originally academic concept to analyze and suggest solutions to key threats of individual/community survival and livelihood protection (via context-driven analysis, understanding and response); and c) the improvement of state and non-state actors’ human security policies and programmes (via context-specific studies and policy papers on research-policy transfer).
    In the context of its practical implementation, the main intention of the project is to strengthen the protection of affected populations’ livelihoods, and to bring community and civil society actors and official institutions (at local, national, and international levels) closer together in understanding and responding to salient human security threats.



    All three case studies (Venezuela/Kyrgyzstan/Ethiopia) follow the same process. In each case study, a small team of researchers has been assembled.
    In a first step, the team conducts context-relevant research on the causes and effects of vulnerability and human insecurity (human in/security mapping), as well as past and existing mitigation measures at state- and non-state levels. The team gathers a wider group of representatives from all major stakeholders, which will address the same task in a participatory multistakeholder workshop. The research team will then integrate both its own and the multistakeholders’ findings.

    In a second step, the research team selects key threats – existential threats – based on vulnerability criteria. The resulting “human insecurity cluster” is a set of core threats that each group defines as essential to monitor and to address in order to preserve basic livelihood security (i.e. survival). Thereafter the team develops response measures that need to be taken by local, national and international actors to reduce threats and strengthen the coping capacity of affected populations. The same task is subsequently tackled by the participants of the multistakeholder workshop group.

    In a third step, the research team as well as the multistakeholder group design indicators and measures to monitor both the development of core threats and the degree to which response measures have been taken in reducing populations’ human insecurity (existential vulnerability). The primary focus at this stage of the project lies on the development of strategies to share the project’s findings and recommendations with local, national and international actors and to encourage their implementation.


Research 2001-2009

Study Areas


in the world:

The NCCR North-South is hosted by the University of Bern
and funded jointly by the Swiss National Science Foundation and the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation