| Daughters of Sysiphus |
1. Existing levels of expenditure on shelter should be carefully determined before public sector plans based on shelter investment by low-income households are made.
2. The relative benefits of food and shelter subsidies should be carefully weighed in the designing of interventions seeking to benefit low-income households in general and female-headed households in particular. Further research should be carried out on this question.
3. The investment priorities of low-income households should be researched prior to any assumptions being made by planners concerning the relative merit of direct investment in shelter by these households. For the poorest households improvement in income status has a higher priority than improvement in shelter status. Indeed improvement in income status is usually seen as the only way in which shelter can be upgraded in the long term. These priorities are particularly characteristic of female-headed households and should be incorporated into strategies aimed at upgrading low-income shelter.
4. Given that female heads of household in particular tend to prioritize expenditure on income-generating activities over expenditure on shelter it might appear logical to exclude such households from programmes focusing on direct shelter investment. However, the fact that the shelter situation of many female heads of household (particularly those that are renters) contributes directly to their poverty suggests that such a move would make it even more difficult for these households to escape the poverty trap in which they find themselves. Solutions that integrate income generation and shelter support are likely to be the solutions that will have the most positive impact and should receive much greater attention from both the public and voluntary sectors.
5. Information on benefits such as food stamps should be made available to female heads of household in a more effective manner, by means of appropriate media use (e.g., using radio programmes that are most popular with low-income women), and through churches, women's clubs and so on.