The UK, Department for International Development defines a livelihood as

“The capabilities, assets and activities that are required for a means of living. A livelihood is sustainable when it can cope with and recover from stresses and shocks and maintain or enhance its capabilities and assets both now and in the future, while not undermining the natural resource base.”

As a basis for development, livelihoods analyses attempt to identify the livelihoods contexts in which individuals must manage the assets at their disposal in order to achieve a sustainable livelihood. Livelihoods capital assets relate to the different resources that people or groups of people may access in order to derive a livelihood. There are five forms of livelihood capital assets:

  • Human
  • Social
  • Natural
  • Physical
  • Financial

SLATE is designed to be a simple tool to assist in the analysis of Livelihoods Capital Assets as part of the process of undertaking a broader livelihoods analysis. The software uses a set of indicators for each type of capital asset that may be specified by the user to assess areas of weakness in the capital endowments of farms or groups of farms. It is supplied with a database of livelihoods indicators that may be selected (or augmented) by the user in order to conduct an analysis of the asset balance within the target household or group of households. After selecting appropriate indicators, the package can be used to generate a hard copy checklist for use in the field. Entering the results of the field exercise back into SLATE generates an assets pentagon that graphically represents the balance of livelihood assets in the target household / group of households. This pentagon is useful in the course of an analysis as it allows the balance of capital assets and their inter-relationships to be rapidly assessed.