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Climate resilience in rural Zambia: evaluating farmers’ response to El Niño-induced drought


  • Alfani, Federica
  • Arslan, Aslihan
  • McCarthy, Nancy
  • Cavatassi, Romina
  • Sitko, Nicholas


This paper aims at identifying whether and how sustainable land management practices and livelihood diversification strategies have contributed to moderating the impacts of the El Niño-related drought in Zambia. This is done using a specifically designed survey called the El Niño Impact Assessment Survey, which is combined with the Rural Agricultural Livelihoods Surveys, as well as high resolution rainfall data at the ward level over 34 years. This unique panel data set allows us to control for the time-invariant unobserved heterogeneity to understand the impacts of shocks like El Niño, which are expected to become more frequent and severe as a result of climate change. We find that maize yields were substantially reduced and that household incomes were only partially protected from the shock thanks to diversification strategies. Mechanical erosion control measures and livestock diversification emerge as the only strategies that provided yield and income benefits under weather shock.

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  • Alfani, Federica & Arslan, Aslihan & McCarthy, Nancy & Cavatassi, Romina & Sitko, Nicholas, 2021. "Climate resilience in rural Zambia: evaluating farmers’ response to El Niño-induced drought," Environment and Development Economics, Cambridge University Press, vol. 26(5-6), pages 582-604, October.
  • Handle: RePEc:cup:endeec:v:26:y:2021:i:5-6:p:582-604_9

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Nicole M. Mason & Robert J. Myers, 2013. "The effects of the Food Reserve Agency on maize market prices in Zambia," Agricultural Economics, International Association of Agricultural Economists, vol. 44(2), pages 203-216, March.
    2. Mueller, Valerie & Quisumbing, Agnes, 2010. "Short- and long-term effects of the 1998 Bangladesh flood on rural wages," IFPRI discussion papers 956, International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI).
    3. Dercon, Stefan & Christiaensen, Luc, 2011. "Consumption risk, technology adoption and poverty traps: Evidence from Ethiopia," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 96(2), pages 159-173, November.
    4. Reardon, Thomas & Taylor, J. Edward, 1996. "Agroclimatic shock, income inequality, and poverty: Evidence from Burkina Faso," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 24(5), pages 901-914, May.
    5. Dercon, Stefan & Christiaensen, Luc, 2011. "Consumption risk, technology adoption and poverty traps: Evidence from Ethiopia," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 96(2), pages 159-173, November.
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    Cited by:

    1. Harriet Brookes Gray & Vis Taraz & Simon D. Halliday, 2021. "The Impacts of Weather Shocks on Employment Outcomes: Evidence from South Africa," Bristol Economics Discussion Papers 21/752, School of Economics, University of Bristol, UK.
    2. McCarthy, Nancy & Brubaker, Josh & Mabiso, Athur & Cavatassi, Romina, 2022. "IFAD Research Series 87: Incorporating the Impact of Climate and Weather Variables in Impact Assessments - An Application to an IFAD Grain Storage Project Implemented in Chad," IFAD Research Series 329498, International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD).
    3. Jeffrey D. Michler & Anna Josephson & Talip Kilic & Siobhan Murray, 2020. "Estimating the Impact of Weather on Agriculture," Papers 2012.11768,, revised Oct 2021.

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