Does irrigation improve household’s food security? The case of Koga irrigation development project in northern Ethiopia


Agriculture remains the mainstay of the Ethiopian economy, as it is a key contributor to the country’s GDP and food security. However, the sector is affected by climate change induced extreme weather events. The Ethiopian government has been making interventions through the development of irrigation schemes to augment otherwise low production and productivity. Koga irrigation development project (KIDP) is one of such initiatives developed to reduce food insecurity. However, due to political unrest, poor water management practice, limited market linkages and other institutional challenges, the project has not reached its desired goals. The purpose of this study is thus to evaluate the extent to which KIDP has impacted on household food security. Data were collected from 395 farm households and two FGDs drawn using random sampling technique. Multidimensional household food security index and propensity score matching (PSM) were employed to measure food security and estimate the impact of irrigation on food security, respectively. The descriptive analysis shows that majorities of the sample households were mildly food insecure in the study area. The PSM estimated that irrigation has positive and statistically significant impact on household annual income. However, the impact of irrigation on household food security found statistically insignificant. The FGD analysis confirmed that both groups of households had closely similar food security status. Accordingly, the study concluded that increasingly generated income in irrigation agriculture might not necessarily guarantee multidimensional household food security. Therefore, the growing interest of policymakers in promoting irrigation should integrally plan mechanisms of converting income into food security.

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Correspondence to Koyachew Enkuahone Kassie.

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Table 7 Multidimensional household food security generic questions with correspondent dimensions
Table 8 Algorithmic Classification of household food security, in a single, Unique category according to their response
Table 9 Probit model estimates of propensity score matching
Table 10 The mean value for the independent variables between the treated and untreated respondents before and after matching
Table 11 Description of the estimated propensity score in region of common support
Fig. 2

Bias before and after matching

Fig. 3

Distribution of propensity scores for the full sample

Fig. 4

Normalization of annual income distribution

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Kassie, K.E., Alemu, B.A. Does irrigation improve household’s food security? The case of Koga irrigation development project in northern Ethiopia. Food Sec. (2021).

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  • Irrigation
  • Household multidimensional food security
  • Annual income
  • Propensity score matching