Center for Environmental Policy and Administration

Social Capital, Assets and Responses to Drought: Preliminary Observations from Interviews, South Wello and Oromiya Zones, Amhara Region, Ethiopia

Author:A. Peter Castro
Date: September 2002
Publication:Madison and Addis Ababa: BASIS Greater Horn of Africa Program and the Institute for Development Research, Addis Ababa University

Much of Ethiopia’s population continues to be vulnerable to severe shortfalls in their ability to produce or purchase sufficient food to feed themselves throughout the year. The country’s Disaster Prevention and Preparedness Commission in January 2002 reported that, “Chronic food insecurity is still a significant, if not worse, problem in 2002 after consecutive years of asset depletion due to attempts to compensate for crop loses” (DPPC 2002: 3). The Commission estimated that more than five million Ethiopians need food assistance in 2002, with nearly another two million people requiring close monitoring. More than one-tenth of them reside in South Wello Zone of Amhara Region. Among this needy population, female-headed households are recognized as especially vulnerable, given social, cultural, and legal constraints in their access to, and use of, productive resources (Yigremew Adal 2001; Stone 2001). The BASIS-CRSP1 Greater Horn of Africa Program, in collaboration with the Institute for Development Research (IDR) at Addis Ababa University, has been carrying out an integrated study of the causes and consequences of food insecurity at the regional to intra-household level in South Wello and Oromiya Zones. The project is using a multi-methods approach, including a large-scale household survey, rapid community assessments, and case studies to investigate the role of such key variables as livelihood strategies, income entitlement, social capital, gender, market linkages, agro-ecological zonation, and drought. Experiences and memories about hunger and food insecurity varied among interviewees, reflecting both inter- and intra-community differences in circumstances. Key variables included the area’s agro-ecological zone, the availability of irrigation, and the availability of food aid or other assistance.


A.H. Peter Castro
Center for Environmental Policy and Administration
The Maxwell School, Syracuse University
Revised 06/14/2006 13:06:05