Impact of Institutional Governance on Social Vulnerability to Food Insecurity and Coping Strategies: A Comparative Study of Raya Alamata in Tigray and Raya Kobo in Amhara, Ethiopia

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Addis Ababa University


The study was carried out in the north-eastern region of Ethiopia, in the weredas of Raya Alamata in Tigray and Raya Kobo in Amhara national regional states. The purpose of the study was to investigate the relationship between differences in institutional governance and its impact on social vulnerability to food security among households in the two weredas. The study looks at how institutional governance and social vulnerability affect household food security in the Raya Alamata and Raya Kobo weredas. The study's research used the combination of Pressure and release (PAR) model and sustainable livelihoods framework as theoretical framework and the research philosophy was a pragmatic research paradigm that combined qualitative and quantitative methods. Propensity score matching (PSM) was used to compare the level of social vulnerability and food security of households. Quantitative data gathered through a Likert-scale survey was analyzed using primary content analysis. This study used Zouhaier Aloui's 2019 governance indicators. Using the Institutional Governance Index and the HFIAS score, the food security status of households was ascertained. Using data from a household survey, indicators of institutional governance, the relative accessibility of essential social services, agricultural extension services, and inputs, as well as the impact on society's susceptibility to food security, were developed. The study found that there were significant differences in the use of irrigation systems, agricultural inputs, the provision of extension programs, and other support systems between the communities of the two weredas, all of which were associated with varying levels of social vulnerability that resulted in varying levels of food security. Although the Raya Alamata and Raya Kobo communities are relatively close to one another and share similar work cultures and access to natural resources, there is a significant difference in their levels of food security and social vulnerability, with Raya Alamata reporting 84 percent food insecurity and Raya Kobo reporting 24%. The main factors generating the discrepancies in food security between the two weredas were institutional governance induced differences of access to irrigation systems, agricultural input consumption, extension packages, and other support systems. The differences in farm land size and fertility could not account for variations in social vulnerability and food security between the Raya Alamata and Raya Kobo districts. The institutional governance factors in terms of community political participation, government effectiveness, voice responsibility and accountability, regulatory quality, rule of law and corruption are key elements that impacted the social vulnerability and food security variations appeared between the two weredas. Thus, the findings revealed that institutional governance was a key factor in either raising social vulnerability and ensuring food security or lowering social vulnerability and lowering households’ food security. As a result of the political economy of decentralization, local community development and poverty reduction initiatives are hampered by communities' lack of access to infrastructure, capital, critical social services such as health, standard education, credit facilities, potable water and feeder road facilities that also have roles in either increase or decrease the level of social vulnerability of households that eventually determines food security status of households. This institutional governance induced social vulnerability to food insecurity referred to as economic and political exclusion. In order to guarantee food security and drastically lower poverty in the region, the study advises the institutionalization of good governance or at least good enough governance that could enable local communities exploit their available local resources while and further enhancing their capacity. The study recommends that policymakers exert every effort to raise institutions, institutional quality, and accountability in order to reduce the degree of social vulnerability in Raya Alamata areas and help households become more food secure. To attain food security, local and regional administrations in both regions should intensify their efforts to build irrigation infrastructure. The study suggests that the federal government hold the regional and local government bodies responsible for failing to ensure the provision of the services that could reduce social vulnerability to food insecurity.