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Methodology

The objectives of the study were:

(a) To carry out a gender-baased analysis of an existing database drawn from a sample of 677 low-income households in the Kingston Metropolitan Area, and, specifically, to disaggregate the available data on the basis of a distinction between male-headed, female-headed and jointheaded households in order to identify and analyse gender differences in the shelter behaviour of households;

(b) To develop in-depth case studies of 12 female-headed households, to provide a qualitative analysis of the shelter behaviour of those households, and to explore that behaviour in terms of the analysis resulting from disaggregation of data from the larger survey.

(c) To explore the implications of the findings established in (a) and (b) for shelter interventions targeted at low-income households in general, and female-headed households in particular.

 

Low-income household survey

This survey was developed and carried out by the Construction Resource and Development Centre of Jamaica during 1987, and was coordinated by the author. The survey was commissioned by the Regional Housing and Urban Development Office (RHUDO) of the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) as part of a regional research programme which sought to explore shelter practices within the informal sector in order to reappraise intervention strategies targeted at low-income households.

The survey instrument was composed of a questionnaire designed on the basis of information collected during 33 indepth case studies that had been carried out during April 1987. The questionnaire was presented to a sample of 40 households and some alterations were subsequently made. In particular, questions relating to credit were added at the request of USAID.

The survey sample was composed of 677 households living in the KMA with households being selected using a method of proportionate random sampling based on special areas defined by the Statistical Institute of Jamaica. The KMA was taken to include Bull Bay and Nine Miles and the newly-established fishing settlement on the Causeway.

The special areas were developed during the 1970 and 1980 censuses. Enumeration districts were grouped la to a number of special areas which approximated recognized neighbourhoods within the city. However, the degree of homogeneity within these areas varies somewhat, particularly due to variations in their physical size, and. because in many parts of the city, very mixed forms of residential development have taken place. Very poor households often build shelter adjacent to richer neighbourhoods where they can often obtain employment. In order to ensure that the areas selected could be reliably treated as low-income, town planning maps were overlaid with maps drawn from previous studies of the KMA (National Planning Agency, Urban Growth Study 1978. The Situation of Women, Children and Yough, UNICEF 1981), which had sought to focus on low-income neighbourhoods. The maps used included those focusing on land use, population density, health facilities, educational facilities. percentage of households without water, percentage of dwellings without electricity. male unemployment and female unemployment. Forty-two areas were finally selected for sampling.

The number of households to be interviewed within each area was determined on a proportional basis using 1982 population data. With the help of a numbered grid. starting points for interviews were then randomly identified using random number tables, as was the direction that the interviewers should follow. Every twentieth head of household was then selected in that direction and interviewed. If he or she was not there the interviewer merely continued selection in the required direction. The areas covered and the number of households interviewed in each area are listed in the tables 1 and 2.

Table 1. Number Or household interviewed in each area

Area

Number interviewed

Rennock Lodge

12

Johnson Town

8

Norman Gardens

5

Rollington Town

19

Newton Square

7

Passmore Gardens

14

Franklin Town

11

Campbell Town

5

Allman Town

9

Kingston Gardens

2

E. Downtown

31

C. Downtown

9

Fletchers Land

15

W. Downtown

26

Denham Town

10

August Town

19

Hope Tavern

14

Cassava Piece

3

Grants Pen

18

Swallowfield

7

Cross Roads

19

Woodford Park

7

Kencot

20

Richmond Park

13

Jones Town

23

Trench Town

20

Whitfield Town

45

Delacree Pen

33

Greenwich Town

20

Boucher Park

14

Cockburn Gardens

25

Waltham Gardens

13

Balmagie

24

Seaward Pen

11

Tower Hill

15

Penwood

15

Riverton City

7

Patrick City

47

Maverly

15

Whitehall

22

Bull Bay

18

Causeway

5

Total

677

 

Table 2. Distribution different types Or household by area

 

Area

Different types of household (percentage)

 

Female- headed

Male-headed

Joint- headed

Rennock Lodge

42

25

33

Johnson Town

33

33

33

Norman Gardens

0

60

40

Rollington Town

29

6

65

Newton Square

29

29

43

Passmore Gardens

23

15

62

Franklin Town

20

40

40

Campbell Town

00

0

40

Allman Town

11

0

89

Kingston Gardens

50

50

0

E. Downtown

53

13

30

C. Downtown

67

0

33

Fletchers Land

27

40

33

W. Downtown

32

18

50

Denham Town

30

20

50

August Town

17

33

50

Hope Tavern

29

7

64

Cassava Piece

50

0

50

Grants Pen

56

19

25

Swallowfield

29

14

57

Cross Roads

59

12

29

Woodford Park

43

14

43

Kencot

61

56

33

Richmond Park

55

64

0

Jones Town

65

4

30

Trench Town

47

16

37

Whitfield Town

58

16

27

Delacree Pen

43

13

43

Greenwich Town

35

15

50

Boucher Park

57

0

43

Cockburn Gardens

24

28

48

Waltham Gardens

62

8

31

Balmagie

50

8

42

Seaward Pen

70

10

20

Tower Hill

60

7

33

Penwood

53

0

47

Riverton City

43

0

57

Patrick City

29

22

49

Maverly

13

20

67

Whitehall

19

24

57

Bull Bay

38

13

50

Causeway

0

25

75

The interviewers were selected from graduates of the Social Work Programme of the University of the West Indies and given extensive training.

Administration of the questionnaire took just over two months. The interview refusal rate was comparatively low with approximately 5 per cent of the households in Patrick City refusing to be interviewed. In general, these were better-off households.

The database resulting from the survey was re-analysed during July and August 1988 with a specific focus on disaggregation on the basis of type of household head. Three types of household were recognized:

(a) Female-headed - A head of household who was a woman without a resident partner;

(b) Male-headed - A head of household who was a man without a resident partner;

(c) Joint-headed - A head of household of either sex who had a resident partner.

Headship was determined by asking members of the household who was the person responsible for making major decisions about the household such as who lived in the household's dwelling, where the household should live and when it should move etc.

Members of the household were considered to be those who ate from the same pot and who spent four nights or more per week in the household dwelling.

 

Case studies

Twelve case studies were carried out focusing on female heads of household in the KMA. The women were chosen to represent a spread of tenure status (owner/occupier, squatter, renter etc) and also a spread of geographical location. Three interviewers were used, of whom two were post-graduate geography students from the University of the West Indies who had been trained in case- study interviewing techniques during the initial case studies carried out by the Construction Resource and Development Centre in 1988.

Individual women were located through a number of different networks. Some of the women were already known by one or other of the interviewers and fulfilled the tenure and geographic requirements. Others were identified through community-based organizations working in areas where the author wished to carry out a case study.

The women interviewed were asked questions according to a series of schedules:

Schedule 1 - Identification of household head and household composition

Schedule 2 - Migration and housing history of household head

Schedule 3 - Building materials of the current residence; layout and construction history if known

Schedule 4 - Income and expenditure patterns; investment choices and history of savings and loan

Schedule 5 - Residential preferences and perceptions of the future.

Each of the schedules contained a range of questions. However, in order to facilitate a relaxed atmosphere in the interviews, which all took place in the women's homes, very few notes were taken on the spot. Instead small cassette recorders were used. Questions were not necessarily asked in a set order as the interviewers wished the women to be able to tell their own story in their own way. The interviews were then transcribed and analysed by the author. In some cases the women were recontacted when further information was required.

 

Methodological issues

There are numerous issues that have emerged as the study has developed and, as far as possible, these have been covered as the background and findings have been written. However, particular mention should be made of two particular issues that appear central to the whole discussion of gender sensitivity in shelter- related interventions.

Categorizing households from a gender perspective

Examining households in general from a gender perspective presents substantial methodological problems as there are relatively few households composed entirely of male or female individuals. Household headship provides a somewhat less complex option and it is for this reason that the head of household was used not only as the informant in this study but also as the study's main unit of analysis. However, classifying households by headship is by no means straight forward and the categorization of headship used in this study does not provide a totally satisfactory alternative to the traditional division of households into male-headed (whether or not there are two adults living as joint partners) and female-headed.

While the categorization used for analytical purposes in this study allows a differentiation between single adult heads, of both sexes, and those living in a joint situation, it does not take into account factors such as the longevity of the head's status as a single or Joint head, the impact of more than two generations being present in the household and the manner in which non-residential partnership may influence household dynamics. These omissions were, in some ways, inevitable because the survey that produced the initial database had not been designed to focus specifically on gender-based differences in household behaviour. However, they are omissions that should be rectified in future research.

Interactions between gender-related variables

It can be difficult to provide an adequate framework for analysis that Is gender-sensitive, because gender differences in specific variables do not necessarily emerge clearly and starkly on a discrete basis. The gender differences that emerge in an area such as shelter are far more likely to be the result of a complex interweaving of small differences in a large number of variables. For example, the differences in land tenure interact with the differences in asset levels and savings patterns to create a complex shelter environment that, in its totality, varies for different types of households in a manner that can, ultimately, be seen to be gender-linked. If a single variable alone is considered, gender-related differences may not be so apparent at first glance.

In the long term, and with more extensive data, it should be possible to develop an index which reflects a range of variables that appear to be gender-related. However, this was beyond the scope of the present study which only used indexation in order to determine variations in dependency rates between different kinds of household.

The index in question, the earner's index. was based on the following formula:

 




The higher the score on this index, the higher the dependency burden of the household.