Rural Households’ Resilience to Food Insecurity in Southern Ethiopia: The Case of Boricha Woreda in Sidama Zone

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Addis Ababa University


This dissertation concerns rural household’s resilience to food insecurity. It explores three interrelated questions: sources of rural household’s resilience to food insecurity, food security status, and household’s coping mechanisms. The study is based on cross-sectional field survey conducted by involving 420 households and key informants interview. It adapted sequentially explanatory mixed-method-research strategy. Stratified sampling coupled with simple random and systematic sampling methods were used to draw a sample from study population. PCA, ANOVA, descriptive statistics (mainly percentage), and Chi-square test were employed to analyze the data. PCA revealed that while all turned to be significant, income and food access, agricultural assets, and agricultural technology adoption are the three resilience dimensions toping in terms of contribution to the study area households’ resilience to food insecurity. Though the majority of the surveyed households (61%) are non-resilient in general, the inter livelihood zones based analysis revealed that the household’s resilience vary based on the livelihood systems. In this regard, the result of ANOVA shows significant effect, i.e., F-ratio is significant at F (2, 417) = 4.991, p < 0.001. With regards to food security, the analysis of HFIAS revealed that 62.4% of the served households have food insecurity situation that runs from ‘moderate’ to ‘severe’. On the other hand, the analysis of FCS showed that 42.4% of the surveyed households have food security situation of below ‘acceptable’ threshold. Insights from key informants revealed that the combination of factors has contributed to the food insecurity problem of the Woreda including erratic rain, land fragmentation, and population pressure. The ANOVA, which was meant to see if food security situation is the same across livelihood zones, consistently indicated existence of statistically significant differences in mean food security scores both in the case of HFIAS for F (2, 417) = 15.046, p < 0.001 and FCS for F (2, 417) = 6.626, p < 0.01. The study’s finding also indicated that households used a multitude of consumption based coping strategies that run from compromising quality of food by eating less preferred foods to food rationing. Repeatedly occurring food shortage has also forced some households to use some of the resilience erosive coping strategies such as selling reproductive assets, oxen, and even selling and/or renting out land holdings. The study also revealed the existence of statistically significant relationship between the nature coping strategies utilized in response to previously happened food insecurity related shocks and household’s resilience to food insecurity with χ2 (1) = 98.149, P < 0.001. Policy implications emerging from this study ii includes 1) making protection of the livelihood assets of the households among the targets of food insecurity problem based intervention. In context, this requires encouraging woreda level concerned offices to report the true picture of food security situation and making humanitarian food aid to play a role in reducing disposal of productive asset 2) promoting and supporting income and /or livelihood diversification of the households, and 3) most importantly addressing the problem of land fragmentation by carefully planning and implementing alternative employment opportunities for the youth as a long run solution. Job categories such as animal fattening, poultry, rural grain mills, construction materials such as sand mining, and providing skill acquisition based training that enable the rural youth to get employment in urban areas and in industries and facilitating employment then after are among the options to consider. Strengthening and making the local development institutions such SDC, SDA, SMFI and the like to work with their full potential is commendable as they can support the concerned line Government Offices such as Sports and Youth Bureau in this regard. This policy option has a role of decreasing the youth’s demand for parent’s land and hence contributing to have resilient smallholders. Key words: Resilience, Food Security, Coping Strategy, Livelihood Zone