Monday, March 8, 2021

Assessing Livelihood Vulnerability to Extreme Shocks (ALiVE)

Already-vulnerable communities are facing multiple shocks, from pandemics to extreme weather events. These shocks are worsening persistent inequalities in poverty and food access. The need to fully understand the complexities and vulnerabilities of individuals’ and communities’ livelihoods is essential to ensuring that the most vulnerable people can be effectively supported when the need arises.

The Walker Academy’s ‘Assessing Livelihood Vulnerability to Extreme Shocks’ (ALiVE) course introduced the Household Economy Approach (HEA) and Individual Household Methodology (IHM). When combined, these can be used to develop a detailed understanding of communities’ livelihoods, vulnerabilities and abilities to adapt.

The HEA/IHM approach can be used to generate nuanced data that can advise policy planning, disaster response and contextually relevant adaptation pathways. It is, however, essential that those using the approach are fully competent so that the data generated is reliable and correct. It is also essential that expertise in this methodology is embedded into national systems so that the ongoing data collection, input, and analysis required, can be effectively conducted and made accessible to relevant institutions. Based on this necessity, the Walker Academy, in partnership with Evidence for Development, is running a series of 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.

Diagram of ALiVE course stages

ALiVE course stages

Who attended?

This first ALiVE foundational course was completed by 17 students from the UK, Uganda and Kenya. They included master’s students, PhD students, post-doctoral researchers and academics, practitioners and civil servants, from organisations including the University of Reading (UK), Gulu University (Uganda), Africa Centre for Technology Studies (ACT), African Research and Impact Network (ARIN) and the County Government of Vihiga (Kenya).

The development and teaching team consisted of Dr Celia Petty for Evidence for Development (EfD), and Luisa Ciampi, Dr Heather Plumpton and Ross Fairgrieve, all from the Walker Institute. The team also had the support of Alice Murphy who is currently a student at Kings College London (KCL) and an intern at EfD.

What happened?

The course was delivered entirely online using the Walker Academy platform, allowing students to log in from all over the UK and Africa. A variety of teaching methods were employed, including live, tutor-led sessions, video tutorials, practical exercises and an interactive panel session featuring experts in the collection, management and analysis of livelihoods data. The course gave students a detailed, hands-on introduction to the HEA/IHM methodology that they will be able to use in their own research, and develop further through future ALiVE training courses.

What did the Students Say?

11 out of the 17 ALiVE students completed evaluation forms and the feedback has been overwhelmingly positive!

  • 100% of those students felt that the time they invested into the course was worthwhile
  • 100% of respondents reported the teaching to be ‘very good’ or better, with 80% saying that it was ‘excellent’
  • 100% of respondents reported being ‘satisfied’ with the course, with 73% reporting that they were ‘extremely satisfied’

“Excellent and I love the energy, the clarity, and the patience with us all, especially on the online platform.”

“The facilitation of the course was excellent. The facilitators introduced bit by bit, to ensure learners aren’t overloaded but focus on participatory learning.”

Everyone at the Walker Academy is thrilled with the feedback from ‘ALiVE Foundational Training 1′. We are currently working hard to incorporate detailed student feedback into the development of part 2 of this course, as well as making further improvements to part 1, ready for the next cohort of students to start their ALiVE journey.

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