Coping with Food Insecurity and Food Aid Intervention in Ethiopia

Ethiopia has been structurally food deficit at least since 1980. Beginning from the 1980s due to insufficient food supply from domestic production a significant proportion of the Ethiopian population continue to face difficulties in meeting their basic food requirements and rely on food aid for survival. Since 1984, annually more than five million people have received food aid in the country, creating a situation of chronic food insecurity.

Food insecure people, however, develop their own ways of dealing with food scarcity over time, embedded in local institutions and social organization. These range from agricultural production, (temporary) employment, home industries, migration to urban areas, the reliance on remittances and help from kin and neighbours.

Nonetheless, many development actors attribute a dependency mentality to people caused by prolonged aid-dependency, loss of skills or aspiration failure as a major constraint towards food security. The Government of Ethiopia and the international community in a joint initiative also develop an integrated safety net policy that is sufficiently long-term to enable food security programming. The new food security policy (the Productive Safety Net Programme) has the double aim of protecting people against hunger and asset depletion, and lift them out of poverty. 

This research, therefore, concerns linkages between people’s perceptions and practices to cope with food insecurity and food security interventions with a focus on the Productive Safety Net Programme (PNSP) for a better understanding of the Ethiopia’s food crisis situation at local level in order to contribute to the ongoing reform of the Safety Net Programme by employing an ethnographic research method. The research will try to identify the livelihood strategies adopted by poor people to the recurrent situation of drought and food insecurity and will try to explore the contribution of the food security interventions on household food security, community relations and on building household capacities for self resilience to future shocks. The research also aims to resolve the contradictory notions of dependency syndrome attached to the local people by analyzing their strategies and attitudes in an integrated manner.