The Port-au-Prince urban livelihoods baseline contains detailed, quantified information on the food, income and expenditure patterns of the urban poor. The assessment was conducted at a time of relative security and price stability from April to May 2009. Thus this baseline provides a picture of the urban poor as they were following the hurricanes, price rises and food riots of 2008. In conjunction with monitoring data, the baseline is a powerful tool that can be used for ongoing analysis of food and livelihood security in the slums of Port-au-Prince. It can also be used to assess the appropriateness of interventions aimed at alleviating urban poverty.
Undertaken by FEWS NET in collaboration with CNSA, this survey employed the Household Economy Approach (HEA). Since the focus of the survey was the urban poor, the assessment took place only in the city’s shanty-towns, known as bidonvilles. Three teams of interviewers undertook 30 interviews with community key informants and 110 focus group interviews with representatives of households from the slums. During the focus groups a total of around 500 households were surveyed.
Even in the slums there are large disparities in wealth between households. The bidonville population was therefore divided into four wealth groups, which were defined by community representatives: very poor, poor, middle and better-off. 65% of those living in the slums fall into the very poor and poor groups. The very poor (30%) live on the edge of survival. They work in low-paying and unskilled jobs as street hawkers, daily laborers and petty traders. Not only do very poor households have the lowest paying jobs, they also have the highest dependency ratio (few income earners compared to dependents). Typically a very poor household contains seven people of whom two have jobs, compared to six people in poor households where two people also have jobs. The poor have similar sources of income to the very poor, but perform higher paying laboring jobs and engage in petty-trade/small business on a larger scale. Middle group households earn more still from skilled labor, petty trade/small business and salaried employment. For the better-off, business is the most common income source along with salaried employment. Remittances contribute to the income of all wealth groups and increase in quantity as wealth increases.