Academic journal article International Journal of Business and Society

Livelihood Strategies and Income Generating Opportunities: A Case Study on Rural Poor Households in Kedah, Malaysia

Academic journal article International Journal of Business and Society

Livelihood Strategies and Income Generating Opportunities: A Case Study on Rural Poor Households in Kedah, Malaysia

Article excerpt


"The poverty of a household is related to its resource endowments, its organisational capacity to manage and deploy its resources, its labour force position, the available coping mechanisms and external or family contingencies which affect it" (Shahadat Hossain, 2005: 1).

Basically poverty is defined and measured based on several attributes such as low income, insecurity and deprivation (Hossain, 2005 and Oluwatayo, 2009). Income measurement as poverty indicator is the most common practice in most countries. This is because it can be easily measured quantitatively and most countries use poverty line income as a measurement to determine extent of poverty of the countries. Therefore this study is focusing on the livelihoods strategies of household expenditure which is related to household incomes.

Managing a household's expenditure with very limited income is very challenging. This challenge is been facing by many poor households around the world. Generally, women are given the task to manage households' incomes and expenditures because they have the skills to plan and manage households' incomes efficiently. In most poor households, women are the key actors in determining the livelihood strategies of the households to sustain the households' welfare. To sustain food consumption and other expenditure of a poor household, a woman needs to carefully budget the household incomes so that the incomes able to cover at least the basic needs of the household members. This is very vital to ensure the continuity of the income generating activities by the household members. For example, if one of the members is not well enough to work for a week, it will affect the welfare of other household members because the less income generated at that period of time.

This study is to investigate the art of planning and managing households' expenditures among women of poor households. The objective of this paper is to uncover the livelihood strategies of the poor households in managing their incomes to sustain the household members' welfare. This study is also to discover whether the strategies adopted by the households can be translated as opportunities for poverty alleviation. This study will not determine the specific percentage or amount of money spent for the goods and services but to investigate the decision behind the allocation of monthly household budget and how the budget allocations and expenditures are prioritized.

This paper will start with discussions on background of poor households and their livelihood strategies to sustain their households' expenditure. This will include theories of poverty, poor household expenditure pattern and its contributing factors. Next is the discussion on methodologies and analysis on findings.


A household can be defined as a group of people who are living in a house, sharing the space for eating, sleeping and doing other housework. The household members share their incomes to cover the household's expenditure. For poor households, the incomes generated in the household are unable to cover the minimum level of basic needs to sustain the wellbeing of the household members (Department of Census and Statistics, 2008). Rural economic activities are often in general have been related to agricultural activities. However, in reality in most part of rural areas in developing countries, the rural economy is diversified. For the poor rural households the incomes of the households are from combining incomes of each household member which are mostly from non-farm work. (World Development Indicators, 2008 and Oluwatayo, 2009). This approach offers poor rural households option for coping with crisis and enhances consumption and also ease the burden of household's head to sustain the household's basic needs (Oluwatayo, 2009).

Most of the poor households spend their incomes to fulfill their households' basic needs. Most studies find that a large portion of poor households' incomes is spent on food and shelter, and very small portion of poor households' incomes is spent on clothing, medicine, education and other necessities (Hossain, 2005). …

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