The practitioners' guide to the Household Economy Approach

The practitioners' guide to the Household Economy Approach

Analysis and assessment using HEAs

The Household Economy Approach (HEA) is a livelihoods-based framework for analysing the way people obtain access to the things they need to survive and prosper. It helps determine people’s food and non-food needs and identify appropriate means of assistance, whether short-term emergency assistance or longer term development programmes or policy changes.

This guide provides practical 'how to' tools for those involved in the fieldwork and analysis of Household Economy Approach (HEA) assessments. It aims to also be a useful refresher for experienced practitioners. The guide is presented as a series of seven chapters, each of which is a self-contained module specific to a particular aspect of HEA. These include; 

  • livelihood zoning: this may be defined as the sum of ways in which households obtain the things necessary for life, both in good years and in bad 
  • baseline assessment: in practical field assessment work, the best way to guarantee an acceptable degree of accuracy in terms of information collection is to have good interview techniques and mechanisms for cross-checking
  • outcome analysis: this term is used to describe the final three steps in HEA analysis. These steps are designed to produce a rational and defensible statement about the predicted effects of a hazard(s), or positive change (s) on household livelihood strategies 
  • translating outcomes into action: this chapter aims to help the practitioner understand important principles and approaches used to translate HEA outcomes into effective action, exploring first how HEA outcomes have been used in a wide range of settings, and second discussing the best approaches for communicating results to decision makers 
  • adaptations of HEA: The household economy analytical framework can be used in a wide variety of different settings, making it both a consistent and a flexible tool. In recent years the approach has been used to assess both rural and urban populations, pastoral, agro-pastoral and crop dependent groups and refugees and the displaced 
  • emerging links, issues and approaches: the subject of food security and livelihoods is broad and widely related to a number of issues and approaches. HEA is a particular approach for exploring the relationship between households and how they obtain the things they need to survive.