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Economic Strengthening for the Very Poor (ES4VP)

Poverty, Vulnerability and Food Security Assessments

As an alternative to comprehensive HLA tools, many organizations employ one or more poverty, vulnerability and food security assessments. These tools help organizations examine specific dimensions of how households live and can thus be chosen based on the dimensions of poverty and organization hopes to affect. Tools that assess hunger, diet and food availability, for example, can be used to identify and segment households based on their food security profile and offer targeted interventions accordingly.

This close level of household analysis is especially important for the very poor who have very specific and often dire needs that need to be fulfilled before they are able to engage in self-sustaining livelihood activities.  In the past, national and regional data was used to segment communities and create vulnerability profiles. National poverty studies, for example, provide data that differentiates regions by income levels or poverty status (living X% above or below a poverty line). Agricultural data can provide information about growing seasons and crop yields, pointing to regions that have more or less food available for the population. But these types of information fall short in their ability to identify the needs of individual households.  

Several case studies provide good examples of using a combination of tools and indicators to understand the lives of very poor households.

Towards a profile of the ultra poor in Bangladesh details a baseline study of ultra poor populations in Bangladesh, looking at health, nutrition, education, employment and other dimensions of poverty.

Targeting the Poorest: A Solutions for the Poorest Use Case describes a triangulated method of identifying very poor households developed through a joint program with the Grameen Foundation and BASIX India.

The BASIX project is a part of the CGAP – Ford Foundation Graduation Program which offers a number of case studies, research and tools regarding assessing and targeting the very poor.