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Food for Work and Diet Diversity in Ethiopia

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  • Debela, Bethelhem Legesse
  • Shively, Gerald E.
  • Holden, Stein T.

Abstract

We use four waves of panel data from Northern Ethiopia to investigate the link between Food for Work (FFW) participation and the diversity of food consumption and production. Food-based transfer programs have become a standard tool for addressing the problem of chronic food insecurity in developing countries. Such programs have the potential to expand diet diversity if food items provided under FFW are not part of the beneficiaries’ staple diet. By raising effective incomes, cash payments also have the potential to “crowd in” purchases of nutritionally important foods. On the other hand, FFW programs have the potential to undermine dietary diversity by altering the basic crop mix if participation requires households to divert labor away from on-farm production. The net effect is unclear, which we empirically investigate in this study. By employing random effects, fixed effects and difference-indifference estimations, we find that FFW participants had greater dietary diversity compared to non-participants, with an average effect magnitude equivalent to one-fifth of a standard deviation in the food variety score. When items directly provided by the FFW program are excluded from the variety score, the overall effect is statistically weaker, but similar in sign and magnitude, suggesting modest “crowding in” of diet diversity from FFW participation. Findings also reveal that higher intensity of participation in FFW is linked with diversified food consumption. We find no evidence that FFW participation led to changes in production diversity, suggesting that FFW programs may not be competing for labor with on farm production. Findings have relevance for interventions that aim to improve food security and promote dietary quality in low-income populations.

Suggested Citation

  • Debela, Bethelhem Legesse & Shively, Gerald E. & Holden, Stein T., 2017. "Food for Work and Diet Diversity in Ethiopia," GlobalFood Discussion Papers 265400, Georg-August-Universitaet Goettingen, GlobalFood, Department of Agricultural Economics and Rural Development.
  • Handle: RePEc:ags:gagfdp:265400
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Beatrice Lorge Rogers & Jennifer Coates, 2002. "Food-Based Safety Nets and Related Programs," Working Papers in Food Policy and Nutrition 12, Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy.
    2. Ruel, Marie T., 2002. "Is dietary diversity an indicator of food security or dietary quality?," FCND discussion papers 140, International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI).
    3. Abdulai, Awudu & Barrett, Christopher B. & Hoddinott, John, 2005. "Does food aid Really have disincentive effects? New evidence from sub-Saharan Africa," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 33(10), pages 1689-1704, October.
    4. Gelan, Ayele Ulfata, 2007. "Does food aid have disincentive effects on local production? A general equilibrium perspective on food aid in Ethiopia," Food Policy, Elsevier, vol. 32(4), pages 436-458, August.
    5. Fredu Nega & Erik Mathijs & Jozef Deckers & Mitiku Haile & Jan Nyssen & Eric Tollens, 2010. "Rural Poverty Dynamics and Impact of Intervention Programs upon Chronic and Transitory Poverty in Northern Ethiopia," African Development Review, African Development Bank, vol. 22(1), pages 92-114.
    6. Getaw Tadesse & Gerald Shively, 2009. "Food Aid, Food Prices, and Producer Disincentives in Ethiopia," American Journal of Agricultural Economics, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association, vol. 91(4), pages 942-955.
    7. Michael Carter & Christopher Barrett, 2006. "The economics of poverty traps and persistent poverty: An asset-based approach," Journal of Development Studies, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 42(2), pages 178-199.
    8. Hoddinott, John & Skoufias, Emmanuel, 2004. "The Impact of PROGRESA on Food Consumption," Economic Development and Cultural Change, University of Chicago Press, vol. 53(1), pages 37-61, October.
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    10. Ayalew, W. & King, J. M. & Bruns, E. & Rischkowsky, B., 2003. "Economic evaluation of smallholder subsistence livestock production: lessons from an Ethiopian goat development program," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 45(3), pages 473-485, July.
    11. Bezu, Sosina & Holden, Stein, 2008. "Can food-for-work encourage agricultural production?," Food Policy, Elsevier, vol. 33(6), pages 541-549, December.
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    More about this item

    Keywords

    Agricultural and Food Policy; Consumer/Household Economics; Food Consumption/Nutrition/Food Safety; Food Security and Poverty;

    JEL classification:

    • I38 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Welfare, Well-Being, and Poverty - - - Government Programs; Provision and Effects of Welfare Programs
    • Q12 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Agriculture - - - Micro Analysis of Farm Firms, Farm Households, and Farm Input Markets

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