Rural Household Multidimensional Poverty and Vulnerability in Degu’a Tembien District, South Eastern Zone of Tigray, Ethiopia

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Addis Ababa University


Persistent rural poverty continues to be one of the most striking development challenges of Ethiopia and attracted the attention of policy makers, development practitioners and researchers. This study aimed at assessing household’s multidimensional poverty and vulnerability (to poverty) using multidimensional poverty measures and lenses focused on a set of household capabilities and functioning’s in Degu’a Tembien District. To address this objective, data were collected from primary and secondary sources. Using stratified random sampling technique, 420 households were sampled from six rural villages to fill a questionnaire that was used to collect primary data. The study used mixed research methods where crosssectional quantitative and qualitative approaches are used. Descriptive and inferential statistics such as percentages, means, chi-square test and ANOVA test were employed to obtain the distributional characteristics and to describe the associations and variations among variables of interest. The research objectives were addressed using Multiple Correspondence Analysis approach to construct asset indices, and Alkire and Foster methodology to estimate multidimensional poverty. Whereas logistic regression was used to identify poverty determinants, and the three-step Feasible Generalized Least Square was used to address vulnerability to multidimensional poverty. The paper initially investigates household’s asset endowments, which are the foundation of household’s strategies to achieve livelihoods. The findings reveal that although assets are the bases on which the livelihood of the poor depends, the general household’s asset capacity and endowments are generally low. Households are poorly endowed with financial, natural, and human capitals. The highest proportions of households (45.7%) were categorized in the middle socioeconomic group while low proportions of households (20%) were concentrated in the highest socioeconomic group. The cluster technique classified 34.3% of households under the lowest socioeconomic positions. The findings also indicated that household’s incidence of deprivation were generally higher and widespread in landholding, livestock ownership, decision making on income, access to electricity, energy for cooking and sanitation where largest percentage of deprivation (>50%) were observed in each indictors. The adjusted headcount ratio, multidimensional headcount ratio and the multidimensional poverty intensity of households were also found high. The living standard dimension of poverty was the major contributor to households MPI while deprivation in decision making on income, livestock ownership and landholding appears to be the larger contributor indicators to overall Multidimensional Poverty Index (MPI). Building on these results, determinants of multidimensional poverty were investigated. Result of this analysis shows that access to non-household labor, number of plots, contact with extension agents, education level of the household head, household size and household’s annual income are statistically significant determinants of multidimensional poverty. Households were found highly exposed to various natural shocks particularly to drought, hailed rainfall, flood and pest. Reducing the number and quality of food, relying on savings and sale of livestock were the three dominant coping strategies following shocks. The finding of this empirical analysis demonstrates that greater proportions of households (80.3%) are vulnerable to future poverty, and the overall vulnerability incidence exceeds the current multidimensional poverty rate. Out of the total vulnerable households, 24.4% of the currently non-poor households xiv are at risk of becoming multidimensional poor while 55.9% of households who are currently poor will remain vulnerable to future multidimensional poverty. The results also discloses that ceteris paribus, female headed households, households with a better social capital, financial asset and number of plots are associated with reduced vulnerability to multidimensional poverty while households with better physical capital are found highly vulnerable. Household’s exposure to drought, hailed rainfall and pest attack were highly vulnerable to multidimensional poverty with higher average level of MPI deprivation. Those who were vulnerable to drought were also found with lower expected volatility in their wellbeing. The finding also shows that households that relied on savings, sale of livestock and formal borrowing of money to manage shocks are associated with reduced vulnerability to future poverty. In general, the empirical findings of this study have strong implications to vulnerability reduction efforts in the Degu’a Tembien District. Building asset endowments of the vulnerable should be the policy focus to increase and expand household’s capability to invest in various livelihood activities. The most effective way of reducing poverty is not focusing on the current poor households, but addressing the larger population who are at risk of becoming multidimensional poor. Therefore, government should also focus on rural vulnerability reduction program as a strategic effort to increase human and financial capital rather than piecemeal dimension by dimension interventions targeted only on the currently poor households. Key Words: Asset endowment; Multidimensional Poverty; Incidence; Intensity; Vulnerability; Deprivation



Asset endowment; Multidimensional Poverty; Incidence; Intensity; Vulnerability; Deprivation