Methods and Tools

It is of the utmost importance to develop reliable tools to measure the quality of life (QOL) of people in the context of their households. Dependable tools could assist in verifying the claim so often made by service and product providers, as well as welfare programmes, that their interventions improve the quality of life of poor households. It is a challenging quest to develop tools comprehensive enough to assess a notion as comprehensive as quality of life, but limited enough to be practical. The QOLA and PIQOLA instruments were developed by Nova in response to this challenge.


The QOLA instrument combines a sophisticated qualitative approach with a definite systematic methodology. It is a tool for researchers and policy makers to assess the quality of life of households in a given area.

The QOLA chart consists of a matrix. On the horizontal line there are ten fundamental human needs. These needs have been identified by the Chilean economist Manfred Max-Neef. On the vertical line there are 25 elements of a household that have been identified by Nova. When combined in the Nova QOLA chart, each need is linked to each element. That provides a comprehensive framework for assessing every aspect of the quality of life in a given household.

The instrument helps Nova to assess the QOL of a specific household in terms of the estimated ability household members have to actualise (or satisfy) their fundamental human needs in the context of the household; this estimation of need actualisation ability can be made once the results of the QOLA-instrument is charted (see diagram below); this specific chart nuances the functioning of the 25 elements within a single household in eMbalenhle near Secunda in Mpumalanga, South Africa as well as the need satisfaction level the household experienced at the time of the survey as reported by the household member interviewed.  

The Particular Impact Quality of Life Assessment (PIQOLA) Instrument


The Particular Impact Quality of Life Assessment (PIQOLA) Instrument is a tool that measures the particular impact of a specific intervention and/or satisfier (usage pattern, product, technology) on the quality of life of one or more household members.

The instrument provides a methodology to generate relevant questions to measure the impact of a particular input on the quality of life of households. The instrument has proven itself as a handy tool to compare the impact of an intervention on the quality of life of different households in a given area.