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UKAID Department for International Development (R4D) 2000

Study on destitution in the North-Eastern Highlands (Amhara Region), Ethiopia

Destitution Ethiopia

UKAID Department for International Development (R4D)

Titre : Study on destitution in the North-Eastern Highlands (Amhara Region), Ethiopia

Pays : Ethiopie

Projet de recherche pour le Développement : R7836CA

DFID Programme : Miscellaneous (Sustainable Agriculture)

Organismes de mise en œuvre
Lead Institutes : Save the Children UK (SC-UK)
Managing Institutes : Rural Livelihoods Department, Department for International Development (UK) (RLD)
Collaborating Institutes : Institute of Development Studies, University of Sussex (IDS)

Durée : 01-08-2000 à 30-11-2000

There is growing unease over the apparent increase in the number of destitute households in the North-Eastern Highlands of Ethiopia. New policy strategies are urgently required to meet the needs of this population. However, little hard information exists on the scale of destitution, or on the processes that contribute to its apparent increase. While households in the target region are increasingly vulnerable to drought, drought is not the primary reason for household food shortages. Rather, it is contended that people in the region are getting poorer. As more people fall into the ranks of the destitute, they are unable to make ends meet, even in a good year. Destitution is understood in terms of peoples’ access to income and assets, and how these have eroded in recent years. A focus on household productive capacity distinguishes this research from studies of poverty, which generally focus on consumption (purchasing power and the distribution of income). Destitution can be understood as a process of increasing impoverishment, culminating ultimately in a state of dependency, and heightened vulnerability to morbidity or mortality. Understanding destitution requires analysing both ,destitution as an outcome, and ,destitution as a process,. While destitution as an outcome can be measured using standard poverty assessment methods, the processes leading to destitution introduce the time dimension to the analysis. In the study area of Amhara Region, for instance, it is arguable that local people have not yet recovered from the famine of 1984/5, which led to erosive asset stripping. A long-term declining trend in communal grazing is making it difficult for people to maintain as much livestock as in the past. Soil fertility and crop yields are also reportedly declining over time. Production and consumption seasonality, as reflected in the annual food gap, is a recurrent cause of poverty ratchets. The forces resulting in destitution operate at the micro (individual and household), meso (community and zonal) and macro (national and sectoral policy) levels. At the individual and household levels, the main determinant of relative wealth or poverty is ownership of and access to productive assets. However, access to and utilisation of these resources are mediated by environmental conditions and institutional constraints, and opportunities that impinge on individuals at higher - community, kinship, policy and political - levels. This implies that an analysis of destitution requires an understanding of both access resources at the micro-level and an institutional analysis at the meso- and macro-levels. At the community level, destitution can take one of two forms ; either the pie is shrinking so that the entire community on aggregate is getting poorer, or stratification is driving the accelerated destitution of sections of the community (ie : asset transfers from poor to rich - such as distress sales of livestock in drought years - are increasing the wealth of the upper deciles at the expense of the poor). Destitution is a multi-facetted process. In contrast to conventional analyses of poverty, that simply enumerate and attach market values to holdings of physical assets at the household level, destitution arises from low and deteriorating stocks of all types of assets and resources, at the community and higher levels as well. In order to investigate this proposition, the approach will draw on the livelihoods framework, to understand destitution in terms of declining stocks of human, natural, social, physical, financial and political capital.

Total Cost to DFID : £38,844

Présentation : UKAID

Page publiée le 24 octobre 2015, mise à jour le 28 octobre 2017