Poverty and Food Security Effects of Climate Variability on Smallholders: The Case of Western Hararghe Zone, Ethiopia

  • Arega Shumetie
  • Molla Alemayehu
Part of the Economic Studies in Inequality, Social Exclusion and Well-Being book series (EIAP)


Climate change has a devastating impact on smallholders’ agriculture in the tropics, particularly in Africa. This study examines the effect of climate variability on the poverty and food security of rural households in three districts (Meiso, Doba and Goba-koricha) in the West Hararghe zone in Ethiopia. The study uses cross-sectional data collected from sample households in the study area with emphasis on the crop production sub-sector, which is more sensitive to climate variabilities. On average, the sampled households possessed about 6.23 TLU, 0.84 pair of oxen and 1.34 hectares of land. Based on the kilo calorie intake of household members per day, more than 80 and 64 percent of the households in Doba and Goba-koricha districts were food insecure respectively. The results also show that households’ income should increase by 63.34 and 57.86 percent respectively for Doba and Goba-koricha districts to lift smallholders out of absolute poverty. Moreover, income inequality is very wide in the two districts. Though moisture stress has the largest share, TLU and cropland owned by households also have a significant effect in determining households’ food security and poverty levels. Additionally, the study also finds out that the size of the family has a strong negative effect on both food security and the absolute poverty status of households in the study area. This covariate aggravates farm households’ problems. Hence, having a large family size and frequent moisture stress on crop production coupled with infertile and fragmented plots of land worsen food security and poverty levels of rural households in the study area.


Climate variability Crop production Food security Poverty Households 

JEL Classification Codes

J16 O15 



The researchers are grateful to the people and organizations who helped in this study. Firstly, we would like to express our gratitude to the SIDA project and the office of Vice President for Research Affairs at Haramaya University, who provided financial support for the study. The support from the finance office of the university was crucial and we are thankful to each member of the department. Last but not least we would also like to express our gratitude to the three district level offices in the study area for their kind and cooperative support in the data collection process.


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Arega Shumetie
    • 1
  • Molla Alemayehu
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of EconomicsHaramaya UniversityDire DawaEthiopia
  2. 2.Centre for International Development IssuesRadboud UniversityNijmegenThe Netherlands

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