Food insecurity and the relative importance of various household assets : the case of farm households in Southern Ethiopia
Abstract: Food insecurity as a consequence of drought is the most common environmental risk threatening farmers in South East Asia and Sub Saharan African. Ethiopia is one of the most food insecure countries in Sub Saharan Africa, mainly due to shortage of rainfall, plant diseases, pests and poor governances. Currently, food security is one of the Ethiopian government economic priority areas. This study has tried to identify the relatively most important assets physical, natural, financial as well as human required to obtain economic sustainability for poor rural households. The study has also attempted to take a deeper look into the Productive Safety Net Program and has examined whether the program is successful in promoting food security. The empirical evidence was collected from households living in the area of some densely populated and chronically food insecure districts of Wolaita Zone, Southern Ethiopia. The study is based in a combination of two methods namely Sustainable Livelihood Framework Analysis and Rasch method (households’ food security measuring method). By using a combination of the two methods the data are analyzed at two levels. At the first level the responses of households to food insecurity and hunger experiences are quantified and scaled by using Rasch model. The purpose of scaling is to measure and understand households’ food security status. From the analysis, three major distinct groups of households were obtained namely food secure, food insecure with hunger and food insecure without hunger. At the second level with the support of the sustainable livelihood framework analysis the major assets important to food security were identified and their distribution across the groups was analyzed with Statistical Package for the Social Sciences (SPSS) software. The study identified farm land as natural asset and livestock especially oxen, cows and /horses/ donkey /mule as financial assets are key determinant assets to improve the study households’ food security. Finally, the study found that the Productive Safety Net Program is still targeting the right eligible beneficiaries’ but few of them are allowed to participate in the program because of inadequate financial resources.
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