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Reconciling Food-For-Work Objectives: Resource Conservation Vs. Food Aid Targeting In Tigray, Ethiopia


  • Gebremedhin, Berhanu
  • Swinton, Scott M.


Food-for-work (FFW) projects face the challenge of addressing three kinds of objectives: to feed hungry people, to build public works where needed, and to be feasible for prompt project implementation. In the debate over how to target FFW to the poorest of the poor, the last two program objectives are often overlooked. This research examines FFW afforestation and erosion-control programs in central Tigray, Ethiopia, during 1992-95 in order to examine how these sometimes conflicting objectives were reconciled. The study decomposes the factors determining a household's FFW participation into three decision stages. First, at the regional level, project planners choose where to locate a FFW resource conservation project. Second, at the village level, a committee decides which villagers will be eligible to participate. Finally, the eligible households may decide whether and how much to participate. Using probit and truncated regression methods, the study finds that project implementation feasibility most influenced the probability that FFW projects would be available in the 25 villages surveyed. Among the 129 households in villages with FFW available, FFW eligibility was inversely related to household land area per capita and household size, results which are consistent with anti-poverty targeting. However, the model performed poorly at predicting non-eligibility for FFW, which suggests that anti-poverty targeting was not efficient. Among households eligible for FFW, those with greater resources (larger families that did not lease out land) tended to participate and supply more days of FFW labor than poorer households. The only households eligible for FFW which did not participate were unable (rather than unwilling) to do so, being comprised mostly of elderly women. Overall, anti-poverty targeting was sub-optimal but reasonable, given the feasibility constraint that these resource conservation projects to be sited in where labor and materials could be made available.

Suggested Citation

  • Gebremedhin, Berhanu & Swinton, Scott M., 1999. "Reconciling Food-For-Work Objectives: Resource Conservation Vs. Food Aid Targeting In Tigray, Ethiopia," Staff Paper Series 11708, Michigan State University, Department of Agricultural, Food, and Resource Economics.
  • Handle: RePEc:ags:midasp:11708
    DOI: 10.22004/ag.econ.11708

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Martin Ravallion & Gaurav Datt, 1995. "Is Targeting Through a Work Requirement Efficient? Some Evidence for Rural India," Monash Economics Working Papers archive-41, Monash University, Department of Economics.
    2. Molla, Daniel & Gebre, Hagos & Jayne, Thomas S. & Shaffer, James D., 1997. "Designing Strategies to Support a Transformation of Agriculture in Ethiopia," Food Security Collaborative Working Papers 55593, Michigan State University, Department of Agricultural, Food, and Resource Economics.
    3. Tschirley, David & Donovan, Cynthia & Weber, Michael T., 1996. "Food aid and food markets: lessons from Mozambique," Food Policy, Elsevier, vol. 21(2), pages 189-209, May.
    4. von Braun, Joachim & Teklu, Tesfaye & Webb, Patrick, 1991. "Labor-intensive public works for food security: Experience in Africa," IFPRI working papers 6, International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI).
    5. 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.
    6. Paul Dorosh & Carlo del Ninno & David E. Sahn, 1995. "Poverty alleviation in Mozambique: a multi‐market analysis of the role of food aid," Agricultural Economics, International Association of Agricultural Economists, vol. 13(2), pages 89-99, November.
    7. T.S. Jayne & Lawrence Rubey & Frank Lupi & David Tschirley & Michael T. Weber, 1996. "Estimating Consumer Response to Food Market Reform Using Stated Preference Data: Evidence from Eastern and Southern Africa," American Journal of Agricultural Economics, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association, vol. 78(3), pages 820-824.
    8. Webb, Patrick & von Braun, Joachim & Yohannes, Yisehac, 1992. "Famine in Ethiopia: policy implications of coping failure at national and household levels," Research reports 92, International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI).
    9. Simon Maxwell & Deryke Belshaw & Alemayehu Lirenso, 1994. "The Disincentive Effect Of Food‐For‐Work On Labour Supply And Agricultural Intensification And Diversification In Ethiopia," Journal of Agricultural Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 45(3), pages 351-359, September.
    10. Cragg, John G, 1971. "Some Statistical Models for Limited Dependent Variables with Application to the Demand for Durable Goods," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 39(5), pages 829-844, September.
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