Food Insecurity and Household Coping Strategies: Implications for Effective Food Security and Development Policy in Ethiopia


The aim of this study is to explore and analyse the underlying causes of food shortages, household coping strategies and their implications for effective development and food security policies in Ethiopia and Kacha-Bira district in particular. The Kacha-Bira district was relatively food secure even during the 1984 famine that claimed millions of lives in other parts of Ethiopia. However, poverty is currently pervasive and food security is deteriorating. This research attempts to answer the following: the underlying causes of food shortages; the types of coping strategies employed by households dealing with food shortages; the responses of Government of Ethiopia and the impact of these interventions on household food security, as observed in the Kacha-Bira district.

This research utilized both qualitative and quantitative approaches. Different data collecting tools were administered such as open-ended interviews, focus group discussion, household life stories and observation of situations. The underlying causes of food shortages in Kacha-Bira district are asset depletion, mainly plough oxen and cows, land scarcity and poor soil fertility, lack of off-farm employment opportunities, persistent drought and erratic rainfall, food aid, dwindling of enset(false banana) crop, the high price of fertilizers, flooding, ethnic-based regionalization, and crop pests. Households employed different types of coping strategies to deal with food shortages. Some coping strategies are positive and others are negative and have a detrimental effect on their livelihoods. The government’s responses to food shortages exacerbated food insecurity in many cases. A growing food aid dependency syndrome is apparent in the area. The findings of this study can be used by policy makers, development institutions, and local and community-based organizations for further policy formulations and better development interventions.


Agricultural and Resource Economics

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