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FEWS NET’s integrated food security analysis is based on an in-depth understanding of local livelihoods. FEWS NET uses a livelihoods-based approach grounded in the application of Household Economy Analysis (HEA)* to assess the capacity of households to cope with a shock or hazard (e.g., drought, flood, market disruption, or conflict).

A farmer holds a cacao fruit
About Livelihoods

Livelihoods-based analysis underpins scenario development, the methodology FEWS NET uses to analyze and project future acute food insecurity outcomes and, ultimately, inform humanitarian response to target resources to those with food assistance needs.

Locally-specific livelihoods information informs each step of the scenario development process, allowing FEWS NET to assess the current food security situation, develop informed assumptions about the future, and analyze the expected impacts on food and income sources. Livelihoods-based analysis also allows FEWS NET to identify priority areas and populations for ongoing food security monitoring. FEWS NET builds its livelihoods knowledge base by producing the signature products featured below.

Read the Livelihoods Fact Sheet
Resources Resources
Integrating Livestock Herd Dynamics into Scenario Development Glossary of livelihood terms Application of the Livelihood Zone Maps and Profiles for Food Security Analysis… Video: Introduction to Household Economy Analysis (HEA)
Our Approach Our Approach
Livelihood approach grid step 1
Step 1
Understand how households access food and income
Livelihood approach grid step 2
Step 2
Use livelihood information to develop an appropriate monitoring plan
Livelihood approach grid step 3
Step 3
Use steps one and two to inform forward looking scenarios
Our Approach to Livelihoods

FEWS NET uses a livelihoods approach to look at how households cope with a shock or hazard, such as a drought, flood, market disruption, or conflict. For example, how would rain failure affect pastoralists in Mali who have exhausted their own food stocks? Would these households face food deficits, or would they find other ways to cope?

Livelihoods Products Livelihoods Products
Livelihood Zone Maps

FEWS NET’s Livelihood Zone Maps identify the number of different livelihood zones in a country or region and define areas where the majority of people generally have the same food and cash income-earning opportunities, influenced by natural resource endowments and agro-climatic conditions, as well as including comparable access to markets.

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Livelihood Zone Descriptions

FEWS NET’s Livelihood Zone Descriptions supplement the Livelihood Zone Maps and describe the main patterns of access to food, cash income, and markets within each livelihood zone. The zone descriptions, together with the zone maps, offer a geographic framework for interpreting existing monitoring data on production, prices, and other indicators to identify potential effects of shocks.

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Livelihood Profiles

FEWS NET’s Livelihood Profiles break down populations in each livelihood zone by wealth group and provide a basis for understanding how different wealth groups may be vulnerable to particular shocks and their capacities to respond. The profiles provide detailed qualitative information for identifying relevant food security monitoring indicators.

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Seasonal Monitoring Calendars

FEWS NET’s Seasonal Calendars illustrate the key food and income sources that are most important in FEWS NET monitored countries and indicate the months these sources are available in a typical year. Most countries have more than one regionally-specific Seasonal Calendar (e.g., key food and income sources in the northwest of a country may be different from those in the northeast and should be monitored at different times of the year). The calendars also show the start and end to key rainy and lean seasons. The calendars supplement Livelihood Profiles and are integral to FEWS NET’s food security projections.

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Livelihood Attribute Maps

Livelihood Attribute Maps extract specific information from Livelihood Profiles (e.g., dependence on casual labor) and overlay the information on a zone map to show where a shock could have a significant impact on access to food and income.

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Livelihood Baselines

FEWS NET’s Livelihood Baselines provide the most detailed quantifiable analysis of household livelihood options. Baselines detail food, cash, market, and expenditure patterns, and both quantify and measure the impact of shocks on households and coping capacity across wealth groups. FEWS NET uses baselines to conduct HEA Outcome Analysis, useful for forecasting acute food insecurity outcomes to inform humanitarian assistance planning.

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*HEA is a unique livelihoods-based analytical framework designed to provide a clear and accurate representation of the inner workings of household economies at different levels of a wealth continuum and in different parts of the world. HEA can be used for a wide range of purposes, including development planning, emergency response, early warning, monitoring and evaluation, poverty analysis and reduction, and policy analysis. HEA is also one of the globally acceptable indicators used in Integrated Food Security Phase Classification (IPC) analysis.

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The information provided on this Website is not official U.S. Government information and does not represent the views or positions of the U.S. Agency for International Development or the U.S. Government.

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