Household resource management (HRM) looks at how people within households - individually and collectively - use the resources around them to support their livelihoods.
Specifically, HRM addresses questions such as:
Who uses what, how, when, and why in a household livelihood system?
Who controls the various resources within the household?
How does this affect the food security and overall well-being of individuals living within the household?
In a household, who benefits from which resource and how?
Who in the household has knowledge about which resource or a specific stage in the process of using a resource?
Who contributes what resources and how?
- Households are not homogenous units: they differ from region to region, and from community to community. Even within communities, households differ - some may be single-headed, others may include hired labour and members of the extended family. Some may be male-headed, others female-headed. Increasingly, many households, particularly in areas of sub-Saharan Africa most affected by HIV/AIDS, are headed by orphans or by the elderly.
- Household members have different needs and priorities depending on their roles within the household. These are defined by gender socialization, life cycle and social class. There are various roles: productive (e.g. dairying, income-generating); reproductive (e.g. child-rearing, caring for the ill, fuel-collecting); and community (e.g. committee member) roles. These roles are dynamic and can be affected by external stressors such as macroeconomic policies (e.g. trade agreements), chronic illness (e.g. malaria, HIV/AIDS) and natural resource situations such as drought or flood. These roles greatly influence the household's livelihood strategies and their opportunities for managing the available resources.
- Poor rural households disproportionately feel the impacts of external stressors. For example, HIV/AIDS impacts households through a loss of labour, local knowledge and skills. Because of these losses, people's contributions to productive and community activities are diminished; more time is spent caring for sick household members, attending funerals and mourning. These effects have drastic consequences for agricultural production and household food security and well-being.
- Within a household, men and women may have different patterns of access to resources. There are many factors that can affect an individuals use of a particular household resource - factors both outside and within the household. For example, socio-economic status is a crucial factor in determining someone's access to resources. Within a community, better-off men that hold title to land are likely to have easier access to land, credit and information than women in the same household or poor landless men and women in economically marginalized households. Other factors include caste, ethnicity, age, disability, etc.
- Men and women in the same household may have different access to extension services because of their different time-use patterns and task responsibilities. For example, younger women who spend much of the day away from the home collecting water may need to see an extension worker at a different time and location than men who might be working in fields closer to home.