Community participation to refine measures of socio-economic status in urban slum settings in Kenya

Carrie Jane Ngongo, Florence Alice Mathingau, Heather Burke, William Brieger, Kevin Frick, Kimberly Chapman, Robert Breiman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Ownership of household durable assets can be a useful proxy for determining relative socio-economic status in a community, but the assets that should be measured are not always unambiguous. Often the selection of asset variables has been ad hoc or not well explained in the literature. Although the benefits of conducting focus groups to design surveys are widely recognized, the use of focus groups to adapt community-specific asset indices has not previously been reported in Kenya. This article describes how focus group discussions can allow communities to express how residents value assets and distinguish relative wealth. Focus group discussions were conducted within the informal urban settlement of Kibera in Nairobi, Kenya. Participants identified assets that distinguish between the poorest and the least poor in their community. They considered whether they would move away from the slum if they had the opportunity, and many would not, citing reasons ranging from loyalty to the community to greater living expenses on the outside. Local perceptions of relative poverty and mobility provide insight into how quality of life in this setting can be assessed and potentially improved. Moreover, a qualitative approach can lead to the adaptation of a community asset index for use in further research.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)33-49
Number of pages17
JournalInternational quarterly of community health education
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2007

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health(social science)
  • Education
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


Dive into the research topics of 'Community participation to refine measures of socio-economic status in urban slum settings in Kenya'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this