A need for sustainability considerations in development interventions
A common misconception among many development practitioners is that interventions that increase household income are to be hailed. However, short-term benefits could possibly come at the expense of sustainability. By applying the Endogenous Switching Regression to a case study of 511 smallholder sheep producers in Northern Syria, this study generated empirical evidence that a project which was providing livestock loans has achieved livelihoods improvements in the area - a 24% (US$146) increase in farm income, a 6% increase in productive efficiency and a 22% reduction in the risk of getting income levels below US$600 per year. However, model results also show that if farmers used the loans for the wrong purposes such as increasing flock size and purchase of barley grain for feed, loans can have potential risks of reducing technical efficiency which, unabated, may compromise the sustainability of pilthe livestock enterprise. The development lesson from these findings is that, interventions with well-known short-term livelihoods benefits could, in the long run, hurt the very sector they aim to support. Therefore, pilot-testing for identifying interventions that ensure both immediate development and long term efficiency gains should precede actual project implementation. Coupling project interventions with knowledge packages can also avoid undesirable outcomes.