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close this book Daughters of Sysiphus
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View the document Some guidelines for public-sector housing and shelter agencies
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Conclusions, guidelines and further research

This study has established that clear differences do exist in the shelter behaviour of households with different types of head. The study placed a particular focus on female-headed households and found that female heads of household:

(a) Accounted for 41 per cent of all low-income households in the KMA and were especially prevalent in those areas associated with the most severe poverty;

(b) Were more likely than other household heads to be dependent on income generated in the informal sector or from poorly paid domestic and factory jobs;

(c) Were supporting more dependents per earning member of the household;

(d) Spent more than other households on shelter because they tended to be caught in the rental market;

(e) Spent at least half their income on food but were more likely than other household heads to report sending their children to bed hungry;

(f) Prioritized expenditure of scarce cash on income- generating activities, particularly in the informal sector, far above expenditure on shelter;

(g) Saved less per week than other household heads and were also more likely to be using the Partner as a saving mechanism than other heads;

(h) Were the least likely heads to have taken out a loan of any kind and were fearful of doing so in case they were unable to make the repayments;

(i) Were less likely than male heads of household to be living alone;

(j) Were more likely to be sharing a yard and the infrastructure, both physical and social, that yards provide than other heads of household;

(k) Moved dwellings more often than other household heads and were more interested in moving in the future;

(l) Were far more likely to be renters than owners of either land or dwelling;

(m) Were more likely to be sharing toilets with other households and using cheaper fuels for both light and cooking;

(n) Were less likely to use their own labour if they built or improved dwellings and more likley than other household heads to hire artisans or mobilize help from relatives;

(o) Were less likely to be upgrading the dwelling they were currently living in;

(p) Were more vulnerable to the impact of natural hazards and disasters than other heads of household.

The question of whether female-headed households tend to be poorer and more disadvantaged with respect to shelter is not really an issue. This study and others have demonstrated extremely clearly that this is the case. What does, however. remain an issue is the response that those responsible for shelter policy development and shelter strategy interventions can produce to answer the challenges that the feminization of poverty present. The aim of this chapter, having summarized the critical findings, is to present a series of guidelines to those working in the field of shelter who are interested in implementing gender-sensitive shelter interventions.