How can we learn about community socio-economic status and poverty in a developing country urban environment? An example from Johannesburg-Soweto, South Africa

Few tested tools exist to assess poverty and socio-economic status at the community level, particularly in urban developing country environments. Furthermore, there is no real sense of what the community concept actually means. Consequently, this paper aims to describe how formative qualitative research was used to develop a quantitative tool to assess community SES in Johannesburg-Soweto in terms of the terminology used, topics covered, and how it was administered, comparing it to the South African Living Standards and Measurement Study. It also discusses the level of aggregation respondents identified as defining a local community using a drawing/mapping exercise. Focus groups (n=11) were conducted with 15-year-old adolescents and their caregivers from the 1990 Birth-to-Twenty (Bt20) cohort and key informant in-depth interviews (n=17) with prominent members working in the Bt20 communities. This research recognises the importance of involving local people in the design of data collection tools measuring poverty and human well-being.