Smallholders’ Vulnerability to Food Insecurity and Coping Strategies: In the face of climate change, East Hararghe, Ethiopia

Lemma Zemedu


Agriculture and food security in developing countries particularly in East Africa are key areas for intervention under climate change. Agricultural production in Ethiopia is highly vulnerable to climate change with major implications for food security. Earlier empirical studies conducted in the country merely emphasized on the static dimensions of food insecurity that have not adequately addressed the linkage between climate change and vulnerability to food insecurity. In recent years, there has been increasing awareness that the analysis of food insecurity should be carried out in a dynamic context. It is, therefore, important to identify the households who are at risk of suffering in the future in addition to looking at the current incidence of food insecurity. The present study analyzed the food security status of households and its determinant factors, vulnerability to food insecurity and coping strategies. Data were gathered from rural households in east Hararghe zone of Ethiopia with reference Kersa, Fedis and Babile districts. Descriptive statistics and probit model were the analytical tools employed. Besides, the Value at Risk approach was used to analyze vulnerability to food insecurity in the study area. For the probit model, the food security status of households was calculated using the calorie intake method. The descriptive statistics result indicates that there is high rate of food insecurity in Fedis district followed by Kersa. The vulnerability analysis also revealed that more households are to be food insecure in the future (40.5%) than present (37.3%), the case will be severe in Fedis district that changes from present (54%) to future (64%). Probit regression result shows that male headed households, per capita income and climate change adaptation through changing planting dates are likely to augment food security. However, increase in household members and location (Fedis) is likely to reduce food security status of the households. Climate change perception is found to have no significant relation with food security status. Importantly, households who adopt climate change adaptation strategies such as soil and water conservation measures and changing planting dates are food secure than the non users. The common strategies food insecure household use to mitigate and cope up with food security problems are building savings, accumulating assets, seeking alternative livelihood sources and reducing household consumption. Hence, it is advisable to diversify livelihood sources, adapt to climate change and promote activities that can increase percapita income.

Keywords: climate change, food insecurity, vulnerability, coping strategies, Ethiopia.

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