Thursday, March 17, 2022

Already vulnerable communities are facing multiple shocks, from pandemics to extreme weather events. These shocks are worsening persistent inequalities in the multi-dimensional aspects of poverty and food access, and place increasing importance on effective and efficient disaster relief and adaptation processes. This short course introduced the Household Economy Approach (HEA) and Individual Household Method (IHM), used to analyse community livelihoods, vulnerabilities, and variations in the ability of different groups within the population to adapt. The HEA and IHM approach can be used to generate detailed data to inform policy, disaster response and contextually relevant adaptation pathways.

The need to fully understand the complexities of individuals’ and communities’ livelihoods and vulnerability levels is essential to ensure that those most vulnerable to shocks can be effectively supported when needed. This understanding requires a methodology that is flexible, sustainable, accessible, and one that generates and translates usable and relevant data. Such data can be used to evidence and support policy decisions, disaster response and interventions designed to improve resilience of at-risk communities throughout the globe.

The HEA/IHM methodology offers all these dimensions; however, it is essential that those using the approach are fully competent so that the data generated is reliable and accurate. It is also essential that expertise in this methodology is embedded within national systems so that ongoing data collection, input and analysis can be sustainably maintained, providing relevant institutions with the information they need. Based on this necessity, in partnership with Evidence for Development, the Walker Academy is running a series of ALiVE accredited courses to ensure that students, practitioners, and policy makers are able to understand, use, and apply all that the HEA/IHM approach has to offer. This AliVE I Short Course run in February 2022 and was specifically designed for partners from the TREETOPS project, funding for which was provided by the UK Natural Environment Research Council (NERC).

Diagram to show four stages of ALIVE course.

The accredited course pathway for HEAM/IHM practitioners


This ALiVE I short course was completed by 5 students from Uganda including two academics from Makerere University and three from the NGO, EcoTrust. Participants work closely with civil society, private sector, and local and national government structures. This means that the skill set developed in this training will not only support individual professional development but will also support on-going development work within Uganda benefiting communities and progressing the climate and development objectives of national authorities.

The development and teaching team consisted of Dr. Celia Petty (Evidence for Development (EfD) and the Walker Institute), Dr Luisa Ciampi, and Ross Fairgrieve (Walker Institute). The team also had the support of Konstantina Pratta, the Walker Academy Facilitator.


This course was delivered entirely online. This meant that students were provided with online resources through the Walker Academy Platform and had two days of online, interactive, real-time teaching. The course was designed so that students had one full day focusing on the origins,  theory and operational use of the IHM/HEA approach, and one full day to reflect on how this approach might be useful for their own future work and the next steps they might want to take. The course was carefully designed to ensure maximum engagement, therefore, virtual interactive exercises, group work and critical thinking exercises were built into both days. Detailed, hands-on introduction to the HEA/IHM methodology was promoted, which students will be able to use in their own research, and develop further through future ALiVE training courses.


All five students completed evaluation form and we are delighted with the positive feedback we received!

  • 100% of students felt that the time they invested into the course was worthwhile
  • 100% of respondents reported the course was well structured, diverse, and engaging with 85% of them agreeing that the practical experience of the OIHM/OHEA software was the most useful aspect of the course.
  • 100% of the students reported the teaching as very good with 70% reporting it to be excellent.

“The training is very exciting. It gave a clear understanding of how as ECOTRUST we can strategize and monitor how our programs contribute to building resilience & adaptive capacities of the communities we work with.” 

“Concepts, definitions, and indicators – there were very practical. I have never really considered those items to be ‘assets’.  I can, however, now see how those assets could make the difference in vulnerability” 

As an introductory course, it was designed with the specific needs of participants from Ecotrust and Makerere University. We welcomed all five students in ALiVE II course that was conducted one week after the end of this course. Following on from ALiVE II the Walker Academy is looking forward to running the next level of this training concentrating on field work so that this cohort of students can become the next generation of national specialists in an applicable, sustainable, and useful methodology. Finally, we gratefully acknowledge the funding for the TREETOPS project which was provided by the UK Natural Environment Research Council (NERC)

If you would like to register your interest in future Walker Academy courses, please email us on