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Appendix 3



While the exact sequencing of assessment and diagnosis will vary depending on the objectives and information requirements, the sequence of a full-blown livelihood security assessment includes:6

Another example of a sequenced approach for participatory livelihood assessments is the one used in Malawi.


Malawi participatory livelihood assessment, July 1998: methods used and key information collected

Level of analysis


Key information collected

Community-level environmental and economic analysis

  • Resource mapping and focus group discussions around resource map
  • Historical time line
  • Seasonality calendars
  • Venn diagramming
  • Matrix ranking
  • Infrastructure, key services, land use, farming systems, land tenure, natural resource base, availability, access, quality, historical changes
  • Historical analysis, changes over time, trends, past efforts
  • Seasonal farming activities, income, expenditure, stress periods, coping and adaptive strategies
  • Institutional identification, operation, interaction, level of service, performance
  • Economic activities, priorities, performance, trends, gender

Household-level social analysis

  • Identification of livelihood indicators
  • Identification of livelihood categories
  • Livelihood category profiles
  • Social mapping
  • Case study and household interviews
  • Economic, social and environmental criteria used for classifying households by well-being
  • Difference by gender
  • Location and names of households
  • Proportional livelihood status
  • Vulnerability, shocks, stress, coping and adaptive behaviour
  • Potential opportunities
  • Validation

Problem prioritization, analysis and opportunity identification (synthesis)

  • Problem identification analysis
  • Cause-effect analysis
  • Opportunity analysis
  • Prioritized problems by gender
  • Problem linkages, causes and effects
  • Previous efforts, successes, failures
  • Roles and responsibilities
  • Potential opportunities and strategies


LSA methodology grows out of RRA/PRA methods but is focused specifically on the multidimensional issues of livelihoods and vulnerability. Field methods for qualitative and participatory information collection have been adequately described in greater detail elsewhere.8 However, they broadly consist of focus and large group key informant interviews, used together with participatory techniques such as maps, time lines, calendars and Venn diagramming, as well as more analytical participatory techniques such as problem tree analysis and concept mapping. These may be combined with quantitative household survey interviews and anthropometric/health surveys.

In general, qualitative methods allow for greater flexibility and greater exploratory power, and they result in information that permits logical inference. Quantitative methods allow for greater confirmatory power and result in information that permits statistical inference. Each has implications for sample selection. Use of multiple methods permits triangulation (cross-checking and confirming findings), and each adds some perspective that the other cannot. The use of multiple methods is an iterative process, and the sequencing usually depends on how much information is already known.

6 These steps are laid out in much greater detail in several other resources. See T. Frankenberger & K. McCaston, 1999, "Rapid food and livelihood security assessments: a comprehensive approach for diagnosing nutritional security", in Scaling up, scaling down: overcoming malnutrition in developing countries, ed. by T. Marchione, Amsterdam, Overseas Publishers Association; D. Maxwell & R. Rutahakana, 1997, "Dar-es-Salaam urban livelihood security assessment: design, background, strategy, data collection and analysis methodology", Dar-es-Salaam, CARE Tanzania; and M. Pareja, 1997, "Preparing for a rapid livelihood security assessment.", Nairobi, CARE East Africa.

7 See K. McCaston. 1998. "Tips for collecting, reviewing, and analyzing secondary data", Atlanta, CARE USA.

8 Maxwell & Rutahakana, op. cit., Drinkwater, 1998, Frankenberger & McCaston, 1999.

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