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Addis Ababa University (2001)

Female Household Heads, Food Security and Coping Strategies in Konso Woreda of Southern Ethiopia

Hadaro, Filmon

Titre : Female Household Heads, Food Security and Coping Strategies in Konso Woreda of Southern Ethiopia

Auteur : Hadaro, Filmon

Université de soutenance : Addis Ababa University

Grade : Master 2001

The paper is aimed at examining the role of female household heads in food security and their coping strategies in two kebeles of Konso woreda. Konso woreda is found in South Ethiopia Regional State. It is located 665 km south of the capital Addis on the main road to Jinka town. The paper begins with introducing the background, the problem, the research questions and objectives including the significance. It follows by describing the physical and socioeconomic conditions of the woreda. It reviews gender aspects of household relations, food security/insecurity, and coping strategies. Female household heads play an essential role in food security of households as producers, purchasers, processors, and providers. They are also critical in coping with food insecurity. Female household heads also play an important role in mutual support systems ; risk minimizing activities, seasonal coping strategies and social adjustments. There are changes and sequences in coping strategies. The role of assets and personal preferences matter the capacity of female household heads in coping with insecurity. Survey results of this study have indicated that female household heads are critical to the food security and coping mechanisms of households in the area. They perform agricultural tasks : digging, planting, weeding, threshing, transporting and storing. The result of the survey in this study confirms with that of Boserup (1970) and Ostergaard (1994) research reports that female role is critical in hoe-based agriculture. They collect firewood and fetch water to process food for the family. Here it had been found that male household members help women in agricultural practices such as digging, planting and building grain stores. Males perform limited domestic jobs such as boiling grain. Female household heads have limited rights of ownership in productive assets as well as their fruits of labor. Lack of access to and control over resources, incomes, and marketing of major assets affect the role of female heads of households. Marriage and divorce patterns, land deterioration and recurrent drought also affect their role in food security and coping with food insecurity. They have limited role in decision on income utilization, and marketing of major assets. Their limited role in these aspects potentially affects their purchasing power and further participation in marketing as well as access to acquire food. In spite of considerable investment of female household head’s labor, farmlands are too small and the area is too arid to provide enough food for most households. Local non-agricultural activities and coping strategies become ’erosive’. They find it difficult to bridge the present gap of food insecurity. It actually exacerbates the pressures at the household to increase females’ labor for diversifying income sources. Under these circumstances, therefore, providing an alternative and more reliable source of local employment targeted to benefit female household heads is needed such as food-for-work. Increasing the productivity of activities seems to be critical and urgent since the burden of securing food for the family falls considerably on female household heads.



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