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Livelihoods and Food Security

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Livelihoods and Food Security

  1. 1. Madda Walabu University Collage of Social Science and Humanities Department of Geography and Environmental Studies Food Security and Livelihood GeES 3104 Getachew Demissie (Dr.) 2013 E.C
  2. 2. Course Description • The objective of this course is to provide students with an understanding of human vulnerability to various forms of insecurity particularly livelihoods and food insecurity. • It covers topics like: the definitions and concepts of livelihoods, food security/insecurity and human vulnerability to various forms of risks. • It emphasises on livelihood assets and coping strategies of poor households in developing countries and the influence on the state of different facets of livelihoods and food insecurity. • It put resource scarcity, degradation and mismanagements in the context of vulnerability at different levels to explain the intensity and patterns of food insecurity over space and time. • Different up-to-date techniques of food security analysis will be covered.
  3. 3. Course Objectives At the end of the course you will be able to: • Understand the concepts of livelihood, food security/insecurity; • Analyse the sustainable livelihood framework; • Identify factors and causes of food insecurity; • Compare and contrast the various livelihoods and food security/insecurity analysis techniques • Explain food security program and strategies of Ethiopia.
  4. 4. Chapter One: Introduction 1.1 Livelihoods: Origin, Definition and Concept • Livelihood is defined as a means of support for living an individual or household life. • It is a source of income, work or occupation one engaged in. • The term is well recognized as humans inherently develop and implement strategies to ensure their survival. • The hidden complexity behind the term comes to light when governments, civil society, and external organizations attempt to assist people whose means of making a living is threatened, damaged, or destroyed.
  5. 5. • There are two broad approaches to defining livelihoods. • One has a narrower economic focus on production, employment and household income. • The other takes a more holistic view which unites concepts of economic development, reduced vulnerability and environmental sustainability while building on the strengths of the rural poor. • The usefulness of livelihoods-based approaches to development has been recognized since the late 1980s, when the concept was popularized by international agencies such as the World Commission on Environment and Development (WCED) and prominent researchers such as Robert Chambers and Gordon Conway.
  6. 6. • The growing popularity of livelihoods as an analytical construct during the 1990s paralleled several ‘progressive’ trends in development thinking, including shifts towards participatory, ‘people-centered’ and holistic approaches to poverty analysis and development interventions. • This popularity culminated in several development agencies – including donors like DFID, UNDP and WFP, and NGOs like CARE and SC-UK – developing livelihoods-based frameworks to inform their operational work. • These frameworks have been applied, to varying degrees, to problem assessment and analysis, program design, even project implementation and evaluation.
  7. 7. • Many earlier development approaches assumed that rural society was homogenous (in other words, that there was no differentiation between households in rural areas) and that households had single-purpose economies (in other words, that they only had one way of making a living). • As a result, development agencies tended to focus on narrow, sectoral, production- orientated strategies that often bypassed those most at risk and failed to recognize that poor households have multiple economic strategies. • One of the key findings that flowed from participatory research and appraisal was a much more subtle understanding of livelihoods and the different elements that they combine.
  8. 8. • Chambers and Conway developed a definition of livelihoods and the factors that make them sustainable which underpins all of the livelihoods frameworks currently being used: • A livelihood comprises the capabilities, assets (stores, resources, claims and access) and activities required for a means of living. • A livelihood is sustainable when it can cope with and recover from stress and shocks, maintain and enhance its capabilities and assets, and provide sustainable livelihood opportunities for the next generation; and which contributes net benefits to other livelihoods at the local and global levels in the long and short term.
  9. 9. • Other livelihoods definitions make people more central and are less concerned with precise terminology for different kinds of assets. • They highlight issues of ownership, access and decision making. • One of these definitions of livelihoods states: livelihood refers to people’s capacity to generate and maintain their means of living, enhance their well-being and that of future generations. • These capacities are contingent upon the availability and accessibility of options which are ecological, economic and political and which are predicated on equity, ownership of resources and participatory decision making.
  10. 10. • Although many researchers and agencies have developed their own definitions of livelihoods and related concepts, most of these definitions share common characteristics, including a focus on various categories of assets (rather than income, the standard focus of poverty analysis) and the institutions that influence individual or household access to these assets. • Some definitions include an explicit focus on livelihood strategies (‘how the poor make a living’) such as agricultural intensification, livelihood diversification, or migration.
  11. 11. • A good working definition of livelihoods is provided by Frank Ellis (2000:10): “Livelihood refers to the assets (natural, physical, human, financial and social capital), the activities, and the access to these (mediated by institutions and social relations) that together determine the living gained by individual or household”. • Later work indicates that it might be useful to add political capital as this can be a key asset defining livelihood activities, access to resources and opportunities.
  12. 12. • From extensive learning and practice, various definitions have emerged that attempt to represent the complex nature of a livelihood. • One of them is the definition suggested by Chambers and Conroy: A livelihood comprises the capabilities, assets (including both material and social resources) and activities required for a means of living. A livelihood is sustainable when it can cope with and recover from stress and shocks and maintain or enhance its capabilities and assets both now and in the future, while not undermining the natural resource base.
  13. 13. • In this definition a number of strands coalesce (unite or merge). • On the one hand, there is a requirement for livelihood to be able to recover from “stress and shocks” but also to be able to “maintain and enhance” capabilities and assets into the future. • A central element in this “resilience” to stress and shocks is the diversification of elements that comprise “livelihood”. • This definition lies at the core of the livelihoods framework as expressed in the household Triangle:
  14. 14. • Every household has a variety of capabilities and Household livelihood security is often influenced by the ability of the household to diversify its livelihood sources. • This means using a wide variety of livelihood strategies so that the household does not depend on only a few sources of livelihood. • The more diverse a household’s livelihoods strategies are, the bigger its capability and asset base, and the more secure it is. • The smaller a household’s asset base is, the more vulnerable it is likely to be.
  15. 15. • Households may depend on a combination of cash remittances from family members who have a formal job, benefits from a range of informal trading and economic activities, using natural resources, livestock, pension benefits, insurances, burial societies (‘edir’), (‘ekub’) and other sources. • Households have sustainable livelihoods when they can cope with, and recover from, shocks like retrenchment or drought, and stresses like inflation. • Livelihood sustainability also has an important environmental dimension, which requires that the natural resource base must be maintained for future generations.
  16. 16. • Generating a livelihood can be seen as a process in which households use their capabilities and assets to engage in activities to pursue multiple livelihood strategies to generate livelihood outcomes. • These strategies may be more or less sustainable, and the livelihood outcomes they generate may be more or less desirable. • Positive outcomes include: – increased well-being, – more income, – greater equity, – improved food and water security and – a more sustainable use of the natural resource base. • Negative livelihood outcomes include: – diminished well-being, – less income, – greater inequality, – diminished food and water security and – an unsustainable use of the natural resource base.
  17. 17. • A household which pursues more sustainable strategies is likely to generate more desirable livelihood outcomes, which will have a positive impact on the assets and capabilities of the household. • This will put the household in a better position to diversify and improve its livelihood strategies.
  18. 18. 1.2 Food Security: Origin, Definition, Concept • Although there are about 200 definitions given for the term food security, the most commonly accepted definition is that was approved by the 1996 World Food Summit (WFS). • “Food security exists when all people, at all times, have physical, [social] and economic access to sufficient, safe and nutritious food which meets their dietary needs and food preferences for an active and healthy life”. • The term “Social” was added to the 1996 definition in 2002.
  19. 19. • Food security is defined as the existence of the necessary conditions for human beings to have physical and economic access, in socially acceptable ways, to food that is safe, nutritious and in keeping with their cultural preferences, so as to meet their dietary needs and live productive and healthy lives. • This widely accepted definition points to the following dimensions of food security: • Food availability: the availability of sufficient quantities of food of appropriate quality, supplied through domestic production or imports (including food aid).
  20. 20. • Food access: access by individuals to adequate resources (entitlements) for acquiring appropriate foods for a nutritious diet. • Entitlements: are defined as the set of all commodity bundles over which a person can establish command given the legal, political, economic and social arrangements of the community in which they live (including traditional rights such as access to common resources). • Utilization: Utilization of food through adequate diet, clean water, sanitation and health care to reach a state of nutritional well-being where all physiological needs are met. • This brings out the importance of non-food inputs in food security.
  21. 21. • Stability: to be food secure, a population, household or individual must have access to adequate food at all times. • They should not risk losing access to food as a consequence of sudden shocks (e.g. an economic or climatic crisis) or cyclical events (e.g. seasonal food insecurity). • The concept of stability can therefore refer to both the availability and access dimensions of food security. • One way to understand these four dimensions of the broad food security concept is to examine how the meaning and common understanding of food security has evolved over time.
  22. 22. • In modern times the interest in “food security” was reignited following the world food crisis of 1972-74. • The crisis originated from a combination of factors, including adverse conditions in several parts of the world, which reduced global grain supplies. • Subsequently, a dramatic increase in demand for grain imports doubled international grain prices, which threatened the food security status of food importing nations. • As a result, the first World Food Conference held in 1974 focused on the problem of global production, trade and stocks.
  23. 23. • Hence, the original food security debate focused on adequate supply of food and ensuring stability of these supplies through food reserves. • Subsequent food security efforts focused primarily on food production and storage mechanisms to offset fluctuations in global supply and ensure the ability to import food when needed
  24. 24. • Food availability addresses the “supply side” of food security and is determined by the level of food production, stock levels and net trade. • However, it became obvious that an adequate supply of food at the national or international level does not in itself guarantee household level food security. • For example, the Green Revolution in Asia of the 1960s and 1970s, with its package of improved seeds, farm technology, better irrigation and chemical fertilizers, was highly successful at augmenting food supplies, but this was not automatically translated into improvements in food security of all people.
  25. 25. • This insight highlighted the problem of a lack of effective demand. • From the early 1980’s, the importance of food access was increasingly recognized as a key determinant of food security. • Hence, food production is just one of several means that people have to acquire the food that they need. • Concerns about insufficient food access have resulted in a greater policy focus on incomes and expenditure in achieving food security objectives. • This has brought food security closer to the poverty reduction agenda.
  26. 26. Other means to access food • Food can be accessed through trade, barter, collection of wild foods and community support networks; it can also be received as a gift (or even through theft). • Remember that access to food is influenced by market factors and the price of food as well as an individual’s purchasing power, which is related to employment and livelihood opportunities. • A third dimension – food utilization – has become increasingly prominent in food security discussions since the 1990s.
  27. 27. • Utilization is commonly understood as the way the body makes the most of various nutrients in the food. • This food security dimension is determined primarily by people’s health status. • General hygiene and sanitation, water quality, health care practices and food safety and quality are determinants of good food utilization by the body.
  28. 28. • Sufficient energy and nutrient intake by individuals is the result of good care and feeding practices, food preparation, diversity of the diet and intra-household distribution of food. • Combined with good biological utilization of food consumed, this determines the nutritional status of individuals. • Food security was traditionally perceived as consuming sufficient protein and energy (food quantity). • The importance of micro-nutrients for a balanced and nutritious diet (food quality) is now well appreciated.
  29. 29. • The phrase “all people, at all times” is integral to the definition of food security, and is key to achieving national food security objectives. • “All people” - Different people are food secure to varying degrees and will be affected by adverse events differently. • We must assess variations in food security status between different groups of people. • Most commonly, humanitarian and development agencies differentiate between groups according to their main livelihood (source of food or income), in addition to other factors such as geographical location and wealth.
  30. 30. • “All times” - This recognizes that people’s food security situation may change. • Even if your food intake is adequate today, you are still considered to be food insecure if you have inadequate access to food on a periodic basis, risking a deterioration of your nutritional status. • Adverse weather conditions (drought, floods), political instability (social unrest), or economic factors (unemployment, rising food prices) may impact on your food security status. • The phrase “at all times” refers to the stability dimension of food security. • It emphasizes the importance of having to reduce the risk of adverse effects on the other three dimensions: food availability, access to food or food utilization.
  31. 31. • Food security exists when all people, at all times, have physical and economic access to sufficient safe and nutritious food that meets their dietary needs and food preferences for an active and healthy life. • The realization of the importance of each dimension has added value to our earlier understanding. • For food security objectives to be realized, all four dimensions must be fulfilled simultaneously. • For example, while there has been a growing realization of the importance of the food access dimension, it has not displaced earlier concerns about adequate food availability. • Even if people have money, if there is no food available in the market, people are at risk of food insecurity.
  32. 32. • Similarly, the importance of food utilization has further enriched our understanding. • Food security is not just about quantity of food consumed, but also about quality, and that your body must be healthy to enable the nutrients to be absorbed. • Finally, these three dimensions should be stable over time and not be affected negatively by natural, social, economic or political factors. • Food Security exists, at the individual, household, national, regional, and global levels when all people, at all times, have physical, social, and economic access to sufficient, safe, and nutritious food to meet their dietary needs and food preferences for a healthy and active life
  33. 33. Food Self Sufficiency versus Food Security • The notion of equating national food security with food self-sufficiency is a problem area that should be clarified. • Food self-sufficiency is taken to mean the extent to which a country can satisfy its food needs from its own domestic production. • Self-sufficiency is usually measured by the self- sufficiency ratio (SSR), which is the share of domestic production in total domestic use, excluding stock changes. • Many countries, which were considered to be self- sufficient in food, were found to be food insecure. • This could be due to the fact that they either lack an efficient food system or the capacity to raise the level of food entitlement.
  34. 34. • That is to say the amount of food produced in the country might be sufficient or surplus, but its citizens might not have the financial capacity to buy sufficient food. • As mentioned earlier at some length, food security in general is a concept which integrates a number of important issues. • Some countries that were known to be food deficit were able to exercise a considerable level of national food security. • These countries were able to import food through generating sufficient foreign exchange and improving the efficiency of the marketing system. • For example, some oil exporting Arab countries do not grow agricultural products, but are known to be food secured. • This is because they are able to import adequate quantity of food to their citizens.
  35. 35. • Therefore, attaining food self-sufficiency alone does not necessarily imply the achievement of food security. • The concept of food self-sufficiency and food security differ on two fundamental points. • Food self-sufficiency looks only at national production as sole source of supply while food security takes into account commercial imports and food aid as possible sources of commodity supply. • Food self-sufficiency refers only to domestically produced food availability at the national level while food security brings in elements of stability of supply and access to food by the population.

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