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Domestication of the Household Assets Vulnerability Assessment (HAVA), previously Househould Vulnerability Index (HVI), in Swaziland - SEECAP/HaSSP
Report of the Workshop held 5-6 November 2013, Ezulwini, Swaziland
5 November 2013 - 6 November 2013


The HIV pandemic has increased the challenge for attaining sustainable development in Southern Africa. There has been a marked decline in quality of life, especially for poor and marginalized populations, while virtually all sectors of society have been affected by the pandemic. According to Save the Children, 2002, the pandemic is threatening the lives of some 16 million people in the region. UNAIDS (2002) reports that of the 25.3 million infected people with HIV in the world, 70% of the total are in sub-Saharan Africa. The report also states that of the entire infected population of adults in Africa, 20% came from only eight southern African countries - Botswana, Lesotho, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa, Swaziland, Zambia and Zimbabwe.

Such a situation in the region is alarming and has called for greater efforts in understanding how the pandemic affects the livelihoods of the African communities and hence inform policy on actions that need to be taken to reverse the impact on society especially with specific reference to agriculture and food security. Given this background the Food, Agriculture and Natural Resources Policy Analysis Network (FANRPAN) in collaboration with Southern Africa Development Community (SADC) and European Union (EU) undertook a seven country study in 2004 whose main objective was to assess the impact of HIV and AIDS on agriculture and food security. One of the key outcomes of this study was to develop and test a statistical index that attempts to quantify vulnerability introduced into different households by HIV and AIDS. The index would provide a baseline on how to quantify the different degrees of vulnerability experienced by different households. This gave birth to the concept of the Household Assets Vulnerability Assessment (HAVA), previously Househould Vulnerability Index (HVI).

What is the HAVA Index?

The HAVA is a powerful statistical index for measuring vulnerability. It assesses "external" vulnerability that is introduced by a defined shock or shocks, and "internal" vulnerability or inability of such a household to withstand shocks in general. HAVA analysis assumes that household wealth can be classified into natural, physical, financial, social and human capital assets. Shocks such as HIV and AIDS and climate change attack one or more of these assets. The nature, extent and depth of the impacts on household assets are used to award vulnerability scores and weights - which are then used to compute the index for each household. The index is used to classify the household vulnerability as either coping, acute or emergency. The approach was field tested in Zimbabwe, Swaziland and Lesotho in partnership with World Vision International (WVI).

Benefits of using the HAVA.

The HAVA has proven to be a useful in measuring household vulnerability. It has the following benefits for policy makers and development practitioners:

  • Based on the different levels of vulnerability, the HAVA data can be used to reach the most "needy" populations with suitable packages to fight off internal and external shocks.
  • Data collected for the HAVA is also a usable indicator for monitoring how assisted households graduated or deteriorated from one level of vulnerability to another.
  • The approach traces the origins of vulnerability in each household, thereby shedding light on the packages of responses required to move the household from one level of vulnerability to another.
  • It is an effective tool for monitoring the effectiveness of development interventions.
  • Evidence from HAVA studies is useful in informing policy decisions within the FANR sectors.

In partnership with WVI, the HAVA was pilot tested in 3 Area Development Programs (ADPs) where the organisation is operational. One ADP was selected in Lesotho, Zimbabwe and Swaziland respectively. The findings of the study has allowed for further refinement and improvement of the tool. For WVI the use of the tool has been important in exploring suitability and adaptability of the tool in targeting of their programme beneficiaries. Based on the lessons learnt there is great potential for scale up use of the HAVA in other WVI operational countries.

The "Strengthening Evidence-Based Climate Change Adaptation Policies (SECCAP)" in Agriculture project has offered a platform for integrating the HAVA. The project seeks to enhance the capacity of policy analysts and scientists in the fields of agriculture, climate and socio - economics to collectively build a strong base of evidence on cropping systems to inform adaptation policies and investment decisions. The HAVA analysis has been integrated to assess adaptation investment options using integrated models - that is climate, crop production, productivity and livelihoods.

The project provided support for domestication and hosting of livelihood databases for Maphutseng district in Lesotho, Lilongwe districts in Malawi and Mpolonjeni district in Swaziland. The results will be used to assess and identify promising interventions, their feasibility (social, economic and environmental), and contribute to evidence-based decision making for policy makers and development practitioners.


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