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Food-for-work for poverty reduction and the promotion of sustainable land use: can it work?


Food-for-work (FFW) programs are commonly used both for short-term relief and long-term development purposes. In the latter capacity, they are increasingly used for natural resources management projects. Barrett, Holden and Clay (forthcoming) assess the suitability of FFW programs as insurance to cushion the poor against short-term, adverse shocks that could, in the absence of a safety net, have permanent repercussions. In this paper we explore the complementary question of FFW programs' potential to reduce poverty and promote sustainable land use in the longer run through induced changes in investment patterns. FFW programs commonly aim to produce or maintain potentially valuable public goods necessary to stimulate productivity and thus income growth. Among the most common projects are road building, reforestation, and the installation of terracing or irrigation. In the abstract, public goods such as these are unambiguously good. There is a danger, however, that such programs could discourage private soil and water conservation and crowd out private investment. How important are such effects and when are these effects small or large and when and how can they be reduced? How do market characteristics, timing and design of FFW programs affect this? When, where and how can FFW programs more efficiently reduce poverty and promote more sustainable land management? The paper aims to answer these questions. Much recent empirical research has focused on the shorter-term targeting issue of whether FFW and related workfare programs efficiently target the poor (Dev 1995, Von Braun 1995, Webb 1995, Subbarao 1997, Clay et al. 1998, Devereux 1999, Jayne et al. 1999, Ravallion 1999, Teklu and Asefa 1999, Atwood et al. 2000, Gebremedhin and Swinton 2000, Haddad and Adato 2001, Jalan and Ravallion 2001). Much less research has been focused on the longer-term effects of FFW. Yet the large share of hunger worldwide arises due to chronic deprivation and vulnerability, not short-term

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Article provided by Cambridge University Press in its journal Environment and Development Economics.

Volume (Year): 11 (2006)
Issue (Month): 01 (February)
Pages: 15-38

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Handle: RePEc:cup:endeec:v:11:y:2006:i:01:p:15-38_00
Contact details of provider: Postal: Cambridge University Press, UPH, Shaftesbury Road, Cambridge CB2 8BS UK
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  1. Mesfin Bezuneh & Brady J. Deaton & George W. Norton, 1988. "Food Aid Impacts in Rural Kenya," American Journal of Agricultural Economics, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association, vol. 70(1), pages 181-191.
  2. Haddad, Lawrence James & Adato, Michelle, 2001. "How effectively do public works programs transfer benefits to the poor?," FCND discussion papers 108, International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI).
  3. Shiferaw, Bekele & Holden, Stein T., 1998. "Resource degradation and adoption of land conservation technologies 1n the Ethiopian Highlands: A case study in Andit Tid, North Shewa," Agricultural Economics of Agricultural Economists, International Association of Agricultural Economists, vol. 18(3), May.
  4. Holden, Stein T. & Shiferaw, Bekele & Wik, Mette, 1998. "Poverty, market imperfections and time preferences: of relevance for environmental policy?," Environment and Development Economics, Cambridge University Press, vol. 3(01), pages 105-130, February.
  5. Pender, John L. & Kerr, John M., 1998. "Determinants of farmers' indigenous soil and water conservation investments in semi -arid India," Agricultural Economics of Agricultural Economists, International Association of Agricultural Economists, vol. 19(1-2), September.
  6. Barrett, Christopher B., 1999. "Stochastic food prices and slash-and-burn agriculture," Environment and Development Economics, Cambridge University Press, vol. 4(02), pages 161-176, May.
  7. Holden, Stein & Shiferaw, Bekele, 2004. "Land degradation, drought and food security in a less-favoured area in the Ethiopian highlands: a bio-economic model with market imperfections," Agricultural Economics of Agricultural Economists, International Association of Agricultural Economists, vol. 30(1), January.
  8. Teklu, Tesfaye & Asefa, Sisay, 1999. "Who Participates in Labor-Intensive Public Works in Sub-Saharan Africa? Evidence from Rural Botswana and Kenya," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 27(2), pages 431-438, February.
  9. K. Subbarao, 1997. "Public Works as an Anti-Poverty Program: An Overview of Cross-Country Experience," American Journal of Agricultural Economics, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association, vol. 79(2), pages 678-683.
  10. Clay, Daniel C. & Molla, Daniel & Habtewold, Debebe, 1999. "Food aid targeting in Ethiopia: A study of who needs it and who gets it," Food Policy, Elsevier, vol. 24(4), pages 391-409, August.
  11. Jalan, Jyotsna & Ravallion, Martin, 1999. "Income gains to the poor from workfare - estimates for Argentina's TRABAJAR Program," Policy Research Working Paper Series 2149, The World Bank.
  12. Shiferaw, Bekele & Holden, Stein T., 2001. "Farm-level benefits to investments for mitigating land degradation: empirical evidence from Ethiopia," Environment and Development Economics, Cambridge University Press, vol. 6(03), pages 335-358, July.
  13. Jayne, T. S. & Strauss, John & Yamano, Takashi & Molla, Daniel, 2001. "Giving to the Poor? Targeting of Food Aid in Rural Ethiopia," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 29(5), pages 887-910, May.
  14. Stein Holden & Hailu Yohannes, 2002. "Land Redistribution, Tenure Insecurity, and Intensity of Production: A Study of Farm Households in Southern Ethiopia," Land Economics, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 78(4), pages 573-590.
  15. Jayne, Thomas S. & Strauss, John & Yamano, Takashi & Molla, Daniel, 2002. "Targeting of food aid in rural Ethiopia: chronic need or inertia?," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 68(2), pages 247-288, August.
  16. Christopher B. Barrett & Peter Arcese, 1998. "Wildlife Harvest in Integrated Conservation and Development Projects: Linking Harvest to Household Demand, Agricultural Production, and Environmental Shocks in the Serengeti," Land Economics, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 74(4), pages 449-465.
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