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Poverty in African Households: the limits of survey representations

Randall, SC; Coast, E; (2012) Poverty in African Households: the limits of survey representations. Presented at: ASAUK Biennial Conference 2012, Leeds, UK. Green open access

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National and international statistics on poverty focus almost entirely on measurements at household level despite perspectives which suggest poverty should also be analysed in relation to perceived needs incorporating both material and human dimensions. Indicators calculated from surveys by-pass most notions of wealth in people We analyse what poverty means in a context of modernisation and the tensions and solutions developed by local residence units in order to survive and participate in a rapidly changing society. We compare domestic household strategies in rural and urban settings in Tanzania and Burkina Faso through detailed case studies (n=48 per country) to explore local understandings of household membership, contributions, demands, loyalties and intergenerational support. Across settings and countries we observe two contrasting responses to poverty generated by the changing socio-economic environment including new educational and health care needs and more material goods. Some households manage and mitigate poverty through extreme flexibility, maximising potential resources and managing safety nets through movement, economic diversification, sharing, or depending on kin and others in crisis. For these households wealth remains in people and in the spreading of risk and resources that people provide. The opposite response is isolation and self-containment - unable to request or offer help. Household survey data which measure poverty in terms of assets and material conditions may misrepresent both the resources base and those who can depend on it. Such data may represent the situation of isolated families and households well, but distort those for whom resources in people mitigates poverty.

Type: Conference item (Presentation)
Title: Poverty in African Households: the limits of survey representations
Event: ASAUK Biennial Conference 2012
Location: Leeds, UK
Dates: 2012-09-06 - 2012-09-08
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
Publisher version: http://www.asauk.net/conferences/asauk12.shtml
Language: English
Keywords: Poverty, household, Africa, rural, urban, Tanzania, Burkina Faso, wealth in people
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of S&HS
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of S&HS > Dept of Anthropology
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/1454351
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