Even in the same gender, network group or community you will find different levels of capability, different levels of assets ownership, different levels of access to resources such as land and ultimately different levels of vulnerability and ability to cope with shocks. If GEM programmes are to bring about systemic change that transforms the livelihoods of people living in poverty, interventions need to be built on an understanding of the characteristics and needs of the individuals and communities they are targeting.

In a humanitarian setting, poor households are likely to have immediate needs as well as longer term recovery and development goals that can be captured in this process. This information can then be used to influence Market Selection and Market Mapping, helping the user to identify appropriate markets and interventions for the particular groups of interest.

This guidance assists the user to understand the different socio-economic groups that may exist. From this, it supports the user to identify impact groups to target in the programme, and appropriate goals. It does this by conducting research on a sample population.

Use this tool when:

  • You are developing a new programme and need to understand potential impact groups better and determine goals
  • There is a need to re-orientate a programme based on significant changes to the population or context, or recommendations made in evaluations or programme reviews

Impact group classification and goal identification is a prerequisite to Market Selection. Full details are in the downloadable document, available at the bottom of this page.

Average time investment for using this tool

At least 1-3 days in a humanitarian setting, and 5-10 days in a development setting.

Who leads

Local partner with legitimacy in the local area when possible

Who needs to be involved

Oxfam project staff and partners; Oxfam programme managers; community level facilitators; community members; local and international NGOs, government actors and civil society groups working in the intervention area should be consulted during this step, to obtain their views on capacities and vulnerabilities of the population of interest.

Activity 1: Preparation

Identifying target locations, and preparing for initial interviews.

Step 1: Review the literature

It is assumed that before you do this exercise you have carried out some country or regional analysis and have a basic understanding of the geographic area including the distribution of livelihood and wealth zones (this exercise will then allow you to dig deeper and better understand the differences within social groups). If you do not have this, you can consider carrying out a livelihoods zoning exercise to deepen your understanding.

Step 2: Selecting and preparing locations

Pick a set of locations that will be representative of the larger area you are interested in. The advantage of using a variety of communities is that you can be confident that the data on which your programme is designed represents the realities of poor people at the current time. The disadvantage may be that, your resources do not allow as comprehensive survey as you would like. You may find it useful to use a combination of secondary and primary data to overcome this.

Step 3: Community meetings

Once you have selected your communities, agree a convenient time to come to the community with local leaders. It is recommended that you make separate arrangements for men and women. It can be useful to have community mobilizers in the community who will gather people before you arrive.

Start your meeting with the group by explaining the purpose of the visit and the estimated length of the discussion. Use guidance in Activity 2 to help shape your meeting.

Activity 2: Wealth profiles

This activity will provide you with a detailed understanding of the wealth groups in your chosen community.

Step 1: Introduction

The guidance below comes from the HEA Framework. It is only one part of the HEA process. If you have time, resources and the capacity, you can also do a full HEA Analysis but it is assumed this will not be possible in most instances.

The following can be run in a plenary format or, more appropriately, in a participatory format in which a facilitator supports community members to work together to identify socio-economic groupings and answer the questions at each step. Get the groups to present their findings on flipcharts, to facilitate discussion and sharing.

Step 2: Initial community interviews

Use opening questions to start discussions on the subjects you need to cover, adapting them according to your needs. Use these opening questions to identify social economic groups based on some of the criteria outlined in the complete tool document below.

Step 3: Creating wealth profiles

Aim to divide the population into four or more wealth groups. A breakdown with fewer than four groups tends to mask real differences in access. Therefore, when you proportional pile the groups, if there are fewer than four groups and one is very large, you should sub-divide it, asking your key informants to describe critical differences within the group. It may even be necessary to divide beyond four groups (for instance if there is a very rich group that constitutes only 1 or 2% of the households). Even though it may not be possible to conduct intensive interviews with this kind of group, it is sometimes useful to include these in the subdivision simply as a means of ensuring you have a complete picture of the community economy.

Step 4: Setting up detailed wealth group interviews

The last task is to interview representatives of the wealth groups identified, in order to gain a more complete profile of their members, and to inform the choice of markets based on identified group goals.

Step 5: Identifying opportunities, barriers and wealth levels

Use the guidance in the complete tool to help shape your interview questions.

Step 6: Understanding seasonality

All aspects of a household economy are influenced by seasonality and seasonal calendars are the basic tool for seasonal analysis. Understanding seasonal variations is essential in order to:

  • Understand the seasonality of crop and livestock production activities, e.g. When crops are planted, eaten green, harvested and sold
  • Understand food access for different groups in different seasons of the year (the food gap or hunger period)
  • Determine which indicators are useful for monitoring seasonal food access
  • Identify periods of rainfall and water availability since these affect crop production, grazing, migration and disease
  • Identify months of higher expenditure and income
  • Understand in which months shocks are more likely to occur

Step 7: Presenting results

Being able to present your findings in a user-friendly and accessible manner is important. The use of a summarising table can assist data access and utility.

Activity 3: Goal identification

Once you have knowledge of your impact group, this activity will help you to identify and prioritise their most urgent needs and how to address them.

Step 1: Identifying goals

At this point in the analysis, you should have a good understanding of the livelihood activities within the livelihood zone, the various wealth groups and their characteristics and a sense of their needs. Each potential impact group will have a set of necessary ‘goals’ and each of these need addressing in different ways.

Step 2: Identifying impact groups

Identify the Impact Group(s) the programme will address. This is a key step and should be made on the basis of the analysis undertaken, organisational and country strategies (such as the Economic Justice strategy), past programme experiences and opportunities.

Selection criteria can be applied if there are concerns that the same Impact Group will be selected on the basis of past programme experience and not necessarily taking needs and opportunities into consideration.

Step 3: Short-listing goals

Short-list impact group goals to 2-3 goals.

Brainstorm potential market systems related to the short-listed impact group goals. If more than one impact group has been selected, identify if possible, This list will be discussed further in the next tool, Market Selection.

Welcome to
The GEM+ Toolkit

Work with these different tools to design, implement and evaluate your GEM+ project.