Date released
27 April 2018

ACIAR-funded research has developed a new socio-economic classification system for rural Nepal. The household typology system revealed important insights for agroforestry and community forestry programs, towards inclusive and equitable projects. The approach has wider application and would enable more effective targeting of development programs aimed at reducing poverty.

When trying to alleviate poverty and improve food security, it is important to be able to identify and target those most in need. This paper proposes an improved way to classify households in rural Nepal, in the context of agroforestry and community forestry programs.

Previous classification systems considered caste and ethnicity, and wealth ranking (‘well-off’, ‘middle income’ and ‘poor’), but have some shortcomings. The authors developed a ‘household typology’ system that considers different household characteristics. Surveying 668 households over six sites, they clarified defining characteristics and using these, they identified six main household types. Further analysis found three key variables were most useful in indicating household needs and capabilities: social status (caste/ethnicity), having a family member working overseas, and holding land.

Using the household typology system, it was estimated that over half of rural households are poor, compared with an estimate of about a quarter using the previous system, which the authors believe to be a gross underestimate. They suggest the new system more accurately identifies areas with high levels of poverty, and would allow more effective targeting of development programs.

The research team, which includes members from the University of Adelaide and from the University of New South Wales, also carried out an analysis of agroforestry and community forestry among their surveyed households. The results included the finding that it is usually male members of households who travel overseas for work, leaving women to manage agriculture and agroforestry. This implies that agroforestry programs should develop technologies that are responsive and sensitive to women’s needs and capacities.

Reference: E. Cedamon, I. Nuberg and K.K. Shrestha (2017) How understanding of rural households’ diversity can inform agroforestry and community forestry programs in Nepal. Australian Forestry, Vol. 80, No. 3, pp. 153–160. DOI: 10.1080/00049158.2017.1339237

The open-source publication of the above paper is part of wider initiative by ACIAR to disseminate the results of its projects as widely as possible. The move towards supporting open access is in line with ACIAR’s thinking on free and fair knowledge sharing in pursuit of more productive and sustainable agricultural systems.