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Rapid Tools for Poverty Assessment - Suitable for Impact Evaluation?

Rapid Tools for Poverty Assessment - Suitable for Impact Evaluation?

Posted by clintonsears on 17 Jan 2013


I'm excited to join the discussions...I've been following FSN Network for a while but haven't started any conversations yet. 

My project (LIFT--see if you’d like to learn more) seeks to establish and facilitate linkages between health clinics and community-based services (primarily economic strengthening, livelihoods, and food security, or ES/L/FS).  Early this year we hope to test a number of poverty screening/assessment tools.  We’re looking for a short tool to administer to clients at a health center to help make informed, appropriate referrals to ES/L/FS services available to households in their community.  It is our hope to develop a screening/assessment tool that will quickly and accurately identify a client’s household poverty situation (using the provide, protect, promote framework, see page 4 of  We hope this can be followed over time to track household poverty, but this may be risky with a screening tool.  Further, we hope the tool will allow a trained social worker (or perhaps skilled health staff) to refer clients to appropriate ES/L/FS services.  The screening tool will not be the basis of eligibility/ineligibility for services.  Rather, the social worker/health staff need to be trained to make competent referrals.

We are looking at the PPI (Progress out of Poverty Initiative) tools, the PAT (Poverty Assessment Tool), and the CSI (CARE’s Coping Strategies Index).  Approaches like HEA (Household Economy Approach) are too complex for the kind of work we need to do.

MY QUESTIONS:  Are there other tools to consider?  Do we have experience with in-house tools?  Has anyone used these kinds of tools (in part or alone) for impact evaluation purposes?

Please feel free to comment here, or email me at

Many thanks!!


poverty assessment tools - user experience

Posted by joanwhelan on 25 Feb 2013

To further the discussion on poverty assessment tools, I reached out to one of my colleagues on TOPS, Arif Rashid, our senior M&E specialist for feedback regarding experience using the tools you highlighted. 

He mentioned that he agrees that the Household Economy Approach is a complex tool to administer and therefore it is perhaps not appropriate for a context such as this. He also noted that the Coping Strategies Index requires strong facilitation, and it's not always easy to find those skills readily available. He also mentioned the Participatory Poverty Assessment tool, developed by Action Aid but felt that it can be labor intensive and difficult to compare across geographic areas.

On the more positive side, both Progress out of Poverty Initiative (PPI) tools and the Poverty Assessment Tool (PAT) are good candidates, both being simple to administer and effective in doing the job.   

For our other colleagues out there, which tools do you use? Do you have any comments to add? 

How do you feel about the development of simple screening tools for enabling referrals across sectors? 



Multidimensional Poverty Assessment Tool (MPAT)

Posted by jamie.frederick on 27 Feb 2013


I'm the M&E Manager for Nuru International, a social venture committed to ending extreme poverty in remote, rural areas.  In our project in Kuria, Kenya, we work in the areas of Agriculture, Healthcare, Community Economic Development and Education.  

In 2011 in Kuria, Kenya, we implemented IFAD's Multidimensional Poverty Assessment Tool (MPAT) to determine an overall level of poverty in the community.  Here's a video that gives an overview of the tool.  This tool can be used as a needs-finding tool or to see how the level of poverty changes over time in a community.  We are implementing a follow-up MPAT later this year in Kuria, Kenya.

The tool has already been translated into many languages and is accompanied by a User's Guide & Manual for ease of use.  We really thought the tool was helpful, as it covers various components which overlap with our program areas -- including Food & Nutrition Security, Health & Healthcare, Farm Assets, etc.

Please let me know if you want to chat about this further. I'd be happy to tell you about our experience using this tool and excited to share our findings.



Jamie Frederick 

Share Your Poverty Assessment Tool

Posted by Patrick Coonan on 28 Feb 2013

Jamie, thanks for sharing your tool with the group!

Does anyone else have examples of poverty screening/assessment tools that you could share with the group? What are your thoughts on the tool that Clinton is developing?


Thanks Jamie! A great

Posted by clintonsears on 1 Mar 2013

Thanks Jamie!

A great former colleague Patty used to work with IFAD and had mentioned these to us.  Unfortunately, there is just too much to collect to make MPAT useful for us.  We really need something that can be done in minutes (as Jindra points out in a comment below...simple questions like "what is your roof made out of?" that are proxy indicators) to make a referral to services.

It would be great to collect all this data, but there's a key consideration:  our project is s TA project...we don't implement, we only link health patients to implementers in economic strengthening, livelihoods, and food security.  We need to provide them with the most lightweight tool possible since we are not actually funding or providing's a challenge, but I'm happy to report back on what we learn!

Thanks again,


Thanks Joan!!I'm grateful to

Posted by clintonsears on 1 Mar 2013

Thanks Joan!!

I'm grateful to you for sharing Arif's thoughts.  We agree!  We are going ahead with a protocol to test various elements of the PPI, PAT, and an alternate set of questions to see how they compare.  We're excited about it and I'll be more than happy to report back once testing is complete later this summer.

FOR OTHERS--Yes, I'd like to echo Joan's question for input on cross-sectoral screening tools.  This is an important consideration as we break down silos and respond to diminishing donor funds in many places.



assets and consumption

Posted by jindracekan on 28 Feb 2013

I quite like FANTA's tool on consumption as a proxy:

Also asking simple questions about the quality of housing (eg thatch vs tin roof, mud floor or stone/ concrete floor) and presence or absence of assets like radio, mobile and bike are good screening proxies.

Best wishes, Jindra

Thanks, Jindra! Yes, we

Posted by clintonsears on 1 Mar 2013

Thanks, Jindra!

Yes, we actually work closely with FANTA, and will be using their household hunger scale.  I'm developing a protocol now to test several short tools in Malawi for comparison, and will happily report back once that's done.

I appreciate your input!


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