The HEA has proved to be a rich source of information and understanding about how the poor live. The holistic view of household operations and strategies that it offers is essential for understanding the effect of shocks on people’s access to food and cash income; but it is also required as the basis for identifying and planning poverty reduction interventions. The practitioners in the Food Economy Group have - for over fifteen years - led HEA's refinement and increased its applicability in different contexts: from national early warning systems to village-level development projects; from the first look into post-war Angola's rural livelihoods to the assessment of refugee camps in northern Kenya; from Kosovo to the swamps of southern Sudan.
As HEA has gained increasing acceptance throughout the world, new uses and applications of it have emerged. Identifying realistic interventions requires an appreciation of the constraints faced by the poor and the opportunities open to them to lock into the wider economy. The holistic view of household operations and strategies that HEA offers is essential for understanding the effect of shocks on people’s food security; it also forms a powerful basis for setting up livelihoods-based monitoring and evaluation frameworkds; and identifying and planning emergency, rehabilitation and development interventions.
Over the years, HEA has been used to:
- develop food security early warning systems
- conduct emergency needs assesments
- inform monitoring and evaluation frameworks
- contribute to response planning
- support market interventions
- link health and education to livelihood analysis
- plan social protection and safety net programs
- conduct policy analysis
- measure and compare poverty levels
- better understand the constraints on female headed households
- devise livelihood-based economic recovery programs
- contribute to contingency planning
- understand and monitor poverty in uban settings