HEA: A guide for programme​ planners and policy makers

The Practitioners' Guide to HEA


Operational guidelines for MEB

The HEA Dashboard Manual

Resilience measurement

Identifying which interventions build resilience and which do not (FEG 2-pager) Credit: FEG

Sector minimum expenditure baskets - HEA resilience study (2018)

A pilot study in Niger and Senegal for the ‘sector MEB’, which is based on internationally accepted minimum standards for each sector. The total cost of the sector MEB represents the minimum expenditure required to meet standards of well-being. The MEB threshold provides a higher level goal for development planners compared to survival or livelihood protection thresholds. Operational guidelines for calculating a sector MEB threshold were prepared as part of this study.

Using HEA to measure resilience

An 18-minute video produced by the Food Economy Group (2016). 


The economics of resilience to drought (USAID, 2018)

A study commissioned by USAID to assess the cost savings that could result from an earlier response to drought in Kenya, Ethiopia and Somalia. HEA was used to model the impact of proactive response in protecting people's income and assets, using a 15-year dataset on crop production, livestock production and prices. For each wealth group in each livelihood zone for each season, a scenario analysis was run to estimate total income and any shortfall relative to the livelihoods protection threshold. The effects of a safety net and a one-off investment on income and assets were then modelled.

A cost-benefit analysis showed that every US$1 invested in building people's resilience will result in an estimated US$3 in reduced humanitarian aid and avoided losses. 


Webinar: Economics of resilience - an ounce of prevention, a pound of cure

A presentation of the Economics of resilience to drought study hosted by USAID Agrilinks and Microlinks. 


Social protection/safety net programming and cash transfers

Support for cash programming (FEG 2-pager) Credit: FEG

Using HEA in the planning of social protection programmes 

Extract from HEA: A guide for programme planners, Section 3.5, pp. 53-65

E​arly warning, early action and contingency planning

Achieving true early action (2018)

A summary of Save the Children's learning from 3 pilot projects to mitigate the impact of slow-onset food and nutrition

crises (2014-2017) through early actions.

The Situation and Response Analysis Framework

Full description of and guidance on how to use HEA to develop detailed and appropriate contingency planning for timely response in contexts prone to slow-onset food crises.

Poverty analysis

How families cope with poverty in Asia (2017)

Lessons from a multi-country review of HEA and Cost of the Diet assessments, 2011-15, with recommendations on how to use learning to inform child sensitive programming, and to make HEA more child sensitive.

Graduation pilot: market assessment and IGA modelling​ - FSD Kenya Review Issue 4 May 2017

In 2015, an outcome analysis was carried out to model the impact of a moderate drought and quantify household requirements to maintain essential expenditure. The impact of nine potential income generating activities (IGAs) was then modelled to see if they would enable households to meet this deficit, i.e. build resilience to moderate drought. Three IGAs were identified as viable.  

Livelihoods at the limit: food security in a changing world - evidence from the consolidated HEA database (2013)

Draws on the results of HEA studies across the world to find common patterns in poor people's livelihoods. It highlights the need to take on board the growing importance of the cash economy, the role of livestock and the importance of casual labour. It lays out the implications for interventions.

Understanding household economy in rural Niger (2009)

An in-depth analysis of the livelihoods of poor rural people in Niger drawing on baseline assessments in five livelihood zones along with other livelihood studies. The study arose from a need to understand better the origins of the 2005 food crisis.

Emergency assessments ('rapid' HEA)

​​Adapting HEA to make it more rapid

Extract from The Practitioners' Guide to HEA, Chapter 6, pp. 31-36

Rapid HEA assessment in Dolakha, Nepal 2015

A rapid assessment following the earthquake of 2014. A scenario analysis was carried out to assess the needs of poor and very poor households over the coming year. It highlighted the need to support households in rebuilding homes, without which other livelihoods interventions would have minimal impact. 


Rapid HEA assessment of livelihoods recovery in Samar, Philippines 2014

A rapid assessment of very poor households in two livelihoods zones one year after Typhoon Yolanda. The rapid HEA investigated to what extent food and income access had returned to pre-Yolanda levels and whether households faced income gaps in the coming year.

Refugees and internally displaced people (IDPs)

Displaced and host community livelihoods and food security, Borno State, Nigeria 2017

Report of an urban HEA baseline assessment of very poor and poor IDP households and very poor and poor host community households. A scenario analysis was carried out to model the deficit for these groups if they did not engage in negative coping strategies.


Rapid HEA among Muslim IDPs in Rakhine state, Myanmar 2013

A rapid assessment of three Muslim IDP camps. A scenario analysis was carried out to model the impact of a cessation of food aid, gifts, asset sales and child labour. 


Rapid HEA in Bidibidi Refuge Settlement, Yumbe District, Uganda: HEA assessment conducted by DanChurchAid-DCA and Save the Children, Feb 2017

​An assessment of South Sudan refugees to understand better their livelihood opportunities and identify appropriate interventions. HEA added value to previous assessments by quantifying refugees' access to food and income and their expenditure. 

Urban HEA


HEA in urban areas

Extract from The Practitioners' Guide to HEA, Chapter 6, pp. 1-13

Small disasters erode household resilience: the absorptive capacity of flood-prone households in Niamey, Niger (2017)

​Urban Africa Risk Knowledge Briefing No. 4 January 2017

A study using an adapted form of HEA for urban areas to examine the resilience of households in flood-prone areas of Niamey.


Livelihoods-based casual labor market monitoring (FEG 2-pager)​ Credit: FEG


Targeting development interventions to where households need them most (FEG 2-pager) Credit: FEG​

HEA-based targeting methodological guide  Credit: The Niger Food Security and Cash Alliance

HEA in protracted crises

Understanding livelihoods in northern Syria: how people are coping with repeated shocks, constant change and an uncertain future (2015)

An assessment using HEA and hazard mapping to better understand livelihoods in northern Syria.


Assessing the impact of integrated humanitarian aid on the household economy of Syrian refugees in Lebanon 2016

The study used a minimum expenditure basket (MEB) against which to compare refugees' income. The MEB had been established by an inter-agency group and included the cost of a broader range of goods and services than a 'survival' threshold. The income of sample households fell far short of this threshold. The study highlighted that a high proportion of the severely vulnerable Syrian refugee households were female-headed; had a high dependency ratio; and/or had faced a serious illness (or health crisis) during the year.

Livelihood assistance to the poorest tsunami-affected households in Sri Lanka - post-intervention IHEA results 2010

Individual HEA was used to assess how far a cash transfer helped people meet a minimum expenditure basket (as defined by UNHCR/WFP) and survival food energy needs. Assessed how they managed the cash transfer, whether they spent any of it on assets or child-focussed goods and services, and whether they faced cash shortages.




The pre-intervention baseline assessment carried out before the cash transfer programme. See endline report above for evaluation. 

HEA and other se​ctor​​s

The unbearable cost of illness: poverty, ill-health and access to healthcare - evidence from Lindi District, Tanzania (2007)

HEA was used in combination with other studies to investigate the direct and indirect costs of illness among poor households, the strategies used to cope with these costs and their consequences, the impact of chronic illness, the effect of user fees on access to healthcare and the effectiveness of fee exemption mechanisms.  

History of HE​​​​​​A

Livelihoods at the limit: The Story of HEA (2014)

A history of HEA, going back beyond the 1990s when it was first developed to 1973, when Save the Children conducted its first Sahelian nutrition survey in northern Burkina Faso (then Upper Volta). This was the first attempt to match up nutritional status with socio-economic factors.   

HEA and climate change

Livelihoods at the limit: reducing the risk of disasters and adapting to climate change - evidence from the consolidated HEA database (2013)

Draws on the results of HEA studies in 26 countries across the world to investigate the most effective strategies for increasing poor households' resilience. It raises questions about the efficacy of a strategy of diversifying livelihoods and of improving smallholder production on its own. Resilience programmes should conduct 'pre-flight' analyses to avoid putting households at greater risk in the short term.

Livelihood profiles and baseline information

FEWS NET: see livelihood products on the FEWS NET website

HEA Sahel: see HEA profile reports on the HEA Sahel website

Somalia: see baseline reports on the Food Security and Nutrition Analysis Unit (FSNAU) website

Ethiopia: 2017/18 baseline profiles will be made available on a government website in the second half of 2018. ​

An Atlas of HEA Information across the Sahel (updated 2017)

Brings together HEA information from 85 baselines across the Sahel region from Mauritania to Chad. Patterns of livelhood are described in maps and text. The atlas includes conclusions that are relevant to policy makers.  

An Atlas of Ethiopian Livelihoods (2010)​ - a link to the Atlas on the FEG website

The story of Ethiopian livelihoods through maps and text, produced by the Ethiopian government's Livelihoods Integration Unit.

Southern Africa baselines (FEG 2-pager)