Name: Evaluation of the Household Vulnerability Index
Year: 2010-2011
Country: Zimbabwe, Swaziland, Namibia
Background: In February 2008, WVI in partnership with FANRPAN (Food Agriculture and Natural Resources Policy Analysis Network) agreed on an initial two-year project to assess household vulnerability and improve resilience using the Household Vulnerability Index (HVI) in three pilots of WVI’s development programmes (Area Development Programmes (ADPs) in Zimbabwe, Swaziland and Lesotho).

HVI, initially developed between 2004-2007 and based on data from 7 countries, represented a composite index able to quantify the vulnerability of a given household and is determined using various impact indicators and other variables. Its aim is to categorize households according to their varying degrees of vulnerability so as to ensure improved planning and targeting of interventions for mitigating impact. It categorizes a household by assessing “external” vulnerability that is introduced by shocks and “internal” vulnerability or inability of such a household to withstand shocks, and then classifies the household as coping, acute, or in an emergency situation, depending on the household’s ability to prevail. It uses Fuzzy logic on 15 variable classes or dimensions to explore the relationships between vulnerability and households’ access to and use of 5 capital assets.

HVI-characteristics include:

  • sensitivity to inter-household variations and its ability to pinpoint the capital assets at household level that may require strengthening;
  • HVI assists to objectively separate households according to the level and source of their vulnerability;
  • HVI can inform development programming, and facilitate context-tailored transition from relief programming into development;
  • HVI can assist effective design of appropriate mitigation responses and targeting of households; and
  • HVI can provide impact evidence data, providing basis for policy options, and enhancing community engagement and ownership in these processes.
Objectives: The main objective was to conduct the evaluation of the HVI using the OECD DAC criteria, noting the strengths, weaknesses and opportunities in using the tool for assessing household vulnerability. In addition the evaluation was to document lessons learnt in implementing the HVI in the three countries and possibilities for scaling up its implementation.
Activities: The scope of the assignment entailed gathering both qualitative and quantitative data using a combination of research methods that generated both facts and figures. The approach was therefore expected to undertake both a desk review and a field survey.

Other methods were:

  • Review of HVI project documents (including HVI proposal, progress reports, meeting reports/ minutes, etc.);
  • Literature and secondary data review (information on vulnerability assessments, etc.);
  • Semi-structured interviews with key stakeholders from FPMG, FANRPAN, UNIVEN, WVL, WVS, WVZ; and
  • Participatory Rural Appraisals (PRA) with community members from at least two different project sites.
Special Recognition: