The Stoplight Tool

The tool uses stoplight colours, photographs, images, tables, electronic devices, and simple software developed for Android devices to create innovative maps that enable socio-economically challenged individuals and families to see and understand the ways in which they are ‘poor’.

The Tool in use

The surveys assess poverty levels using 50 indicators grouped into
6 dimensions of poverty

  • Income and Employment
  • Health and Environment
  • Housing and Infrastructure
  • Education and Culture
  • Organisation and Participation
  • Self-Awareness and Motivation

And for every one of the 50 indicators, there are three status conditions

Three Statuses

So how does it work?

Facilitators conduct surveys

Facilitators trained in the Stoplight approach conduct household visits or individual sessions with employees.


In households, it is preferable that as many members of the household as possible will be present for the survey and interview process. The  Facilitators create a safe space for the household or employee to share sensitive information and ensure that the family is prepared to answer all questions as honestly as possible.



The household or employee completes the Stoplight survey on paper or using the App developed for Android devices, by selecting the definition for each indicator that most reflects the their current circumstances. During the survey, many realisations are made, as people become aware of the role that they have played in their own lives and what they are/are not in control of. It is often an emotional session and the facilitators are trained to hold space for them.

definitions selected per indicator
results scorecard

The result is a Stoplight scorecard that is easy to understand and use in follow-up processes.

The results allow households and employees to reflect, prioritise and plan how to resolve any poverty-related challenges that affects them, because it breaks down their situation in bite-size chunks that does not overwhelm them. Then with the assistance of organisations that have competencies relating to each indicator, they can plan a way forward. Information is power, and doing the survey and receiving the scorecard helps to activate awareness and encourage agency.




Because the tool contrasts poverty with non-poverty, it encourages people to take action to help themselves to address the difference. As households or employees systematically work on moving their issues of poverty from red to green, regular application of this survey allows for more comprehensive measurement and mapping of social and cultural wealth, which until now has been a challenge for the development sector.

Comparative measuring of growth
results mapped out

Data can be aggregated and mapped using online geo-referencing, offering a better perspective of the real issues at hand in specific areas of the country, and scaling for a national snapshot in time.


These maps can enhance decision-making for government services such as electricity and sanitation and can influence priorities for engagement. Similarly, the corporate social investment sector could use these maps to identify the issues of greatest need within their geographical footprint.

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