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Identification of target households

Identification of target households

The ability to provide adequate "safety-nets" for "vulnerable" groups hinges in turn on the ability to identify the appropriate households. In this respect, it is important to define what constitutes a "vulnerable" household. Generally, the vulnerable comprise two groups. First, those households which would be vulnerable under any circumstances: for example, those where the adult(s) is(are) unable to provide an adequate livelihood for the household for reasons of disability, illness, age or some other characteristic. Second, those whose resource endowment is inadequate to provide sufficient income from any available source.

In addition, the concept of vulnerability should include a third category: those whose characteristics and resources render them potentially vulnerable in the context of social and economic "shocks": e.g. those who find it hard to adapt to sudden changes in economic activity brought about by economic policy. A significant increase in the consumer price of staple foods as a result of the AoA might be an example.

Although no definition of "vulnerable" is complete, a useful starting point is estimates of income. While it can be assumed that the first two categories will be relatively poor in terms of both income and assets, it seems reasonable to infer that the third category are also likely to have a fragile resource base and other characteristics which make their current income sources uncertain. An appropriate proxy, therefore, in identifying vulnerable households, is how poor a particular household is when measured against some established criterion or ''poverty-line".4 Having defined the poor, the second appropriate step is to identify their household characteristics: their location (rural/urban; small village/large village; remote province/near to capital city; etc.) household characteristics (size, age and dependency ratios; male/female head), and sources of income (production, employment, trade, remittances and other transfers).

4 We are concerned here with household food security and the characteristics and vulnerability of households. If individuals within households are the focus, a wider set of issues becomes important.

A frequent problem in delineating those sections of the population most "vulnerable" or at risk from changes in policy direction, is the lack of base-line data regarding household income and consumption patterns. Nevertheless, there have been studies carried out in most countries of the Region which provide evidence of relative economic status, and enable a rudimentary classification of vulnerable households to be made.

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