How the choice of food security indicators affects the assessment of resilience—an example from northern Ethiopia
- 52 Downloads
Using longitudinal survey data from northern Ethiopia collected over 18 months, this study shows that conclusions about household food security are highly sensitive to measurement decisions. Especially important are 1) decisions about which food security indicators and cut-offs are chosen, and 2) whether analysis focuses on food security status at a given point in time or food security resilience over time. We define resilience as the probability that a household is truly above a chosen food security cut-off, given its underlying assets, demographic characteristics, and past food security status. Our study finds that different factors determine food security status and food security resilience. We also find that the drivers of resilience vary depending on whether food security is measured by Food Consumption Score (FCS) or the reduced Coping Strategies Index (rCSI). Literacy and livestock holdings are associated with both FCS status and FCS resilience, and the latter is also predicted by access to safe water and sanitation, the dependency ratio, and debt. In contrast, only previous rCSI scores predict current rCSI status, while marital status, literacy, livestock, and other forces matter for determining rCSI resilience. We also find that conclusions about food security resilience are sensitive to the cut-offs chosen to signify a food secure state.
KeywordsResilience Food security Sub-Saharan Africa Ethiopia Livelihoods Coping strategies
We gratefully acknowledge the financial support of the Swedish International Development Agency (SIDA) and additional funding from the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs. This support spanned the period from 2010 to 2013 and supported the field data collection. The field teams that collected data in four rounds over a two-year period included Ataklti Techane, Bereket Gebre Medhin, Fisseha Gebre Tensae, Selam Yirga, Martha Tekle, Michael Gebre Hiwot, Kidane Hintsa, Lemlem Fitsum, Samson Hadgu, Gebresselassie Hailu, Haile Tewelde, Dawit Gebre Her, and Ataklti Haile; our thanks to all for their hard work. Special thanks to Julia Van Horn for editorial assistance. We are solely responsible for any errors in the analysis.
Compliance with ethical standards
Conflict of interest
The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.
- Baulch, B. (Ed.). (2011). Why poverty persists: Poverty dynamics in Asia and Africa. Cheltenham: Edward Elgar Publishing.Google Scholar
- Barrett, C. B., Marenya, P. P., McPeak, J., Minten, B., Murithi, F., Oluoch-Kosura, W., Place, F., Randrianarisoa, J. C., Rasambainarivo, J., & Wangila, J. (2006). Welfare dynamics in rural Kenya and Madagascar. The Journal of Development Studies, 42(2), 248–277. https://doi.org/10.1080/00220380500405394.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
- Christiaenson, L. & Boisvert, R. (2000). On measuring household food vulnerability: case evidence from Northern Mali. Working paper. Department of Agricultural, Resource, and Managerial Economics, Cornell University.Google Scholar
- Cissé, J.D. and Ikegami, M. (2016). Does insurance improve resilience? (In preparation). Available at http://publications.dyson.cornell.edu/grad/candidates/2016/Dyson-JenCisse-Paper.pdf
- Department for International Development (DFID), UK. (2011). Defining disaster resilience: A DFID approach paper. London: DFID.Google Scholar
- Disaster Preparedness and Prevention Agency (DPPA), Government of Ethiopia. (2008). Saesie Tsaeda Amba Woreda. Report from the livelihoods information unit of the Disaster Preparedness and Prevention Agency (DPPA). Addis Ababa.Google Scholar
- Frankenberger, T., Langworthy, M., & Spangler, T. (2012). Enhancing resilience to food security shocks. White paper (draft). Tucson: TANGO International.Google Scholar
- Goshu, D. (2013). The dynamics of poverty and vulnerability in rural Ethiopia. Ethiopian Journal of Economics, 22(2), 1–20.Google Scholar
- Maxwell, D., Vaitla, B. Tesfay, G., and Abadi, N. (2013). Resilience, food security dynamics, and poverty traps in northern Ethiopia. Feinstein International Center, October 2013.Google Scholar
- Maxwell, D. and Caldwell, R. (2008). The Coping Strategies Index: Field Methods Manual, Second Edition.Google Scholar
- Vaitla, B., Coates, J., and Maxwell, D. (2015). Comparing household food consumption indicators to inform acute food insecurity phase classification. Washington, DC: FHI 360/Food and Nutrition Technical Assistance III Project (FANTA).Google Scholar
- Vollenweider, X. (2015). Measuring climate resilience and vulnerability: A case study from Ethiopia. Washington, DC: USAID.Google Scholar
- Watkins, B., Nussbaumer, E., Upton, J., Campion, A., Riely, F. and Foster, E. (2017). Phase II Famine Early Warning Systems network resilience measurement activity: methodology report. USAID/Kimetrica.Google Scholar
- Wiesmann, D., Bassett, L., Benson, T., and Hoddinott, J. (2009). Validation of the World Food Program’s Food Consumption Score and alternative indicators of household food security. Discussion Paper 008970, International Food Policy Research Institute.Google Scholar
- World Food Program. (2008). Food consumption analysis: calculation and use of the food consumption score in food security analysis. Technical Guidance Sheet. WFP Vulnerability Analysis and Mapping, February 2008.Google Scholar