Household Economy Methodology

Accurate information on household economies enables governments, NGOs and donors to monitor the status of different groups within a population and to assess when, where and how people’s livelihoods may be affected by shocks or changes. Using this evidence, the potential impacts of development and humanitarian programmes can be modelled and appropriate interventions and targeting criteria can be selected. Baseline data and follow-up studies can be used to track the actual changes that follow interventions.

Household economy methods provide detailed information on livelihood activities and access to basic needs across defined populations, producing key insights needed to design policies and programmes and to monitor and evaluate their effectiveness. These approaches have applications across a wide range of disciplines including climate change and adaptation, food security, health, micro enterprise and social protection.

The household economy approach (HEA) is a method for assessing the vulnerability of groups of households to economic shocks and changes over large rural areas, based on livelihood patterns and market information. It can be used to monitor food security and adaptation to climate change, and to inform relevant policy responses and initiatives.

The individual household method (IHM) provides reliable estimates of incomes and access to food and non-food needs at an individual household level, and is used mainly for the design, targeting, monitoring and evaluation of development programmes in both rural and urban areas. The method was designed to overcome problems with widely-used surveys and involves specialised software that enables data checking and analysis to be carried out by researchers in the field, reducing the risk of errors and making it possible to provide up-to-date information needed by decision makers.

An introduction to these methods is provided by the ALiVE foundation courses run by Evidence for Development with the Walker Academy.

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