The role of livestock diversification in ensuring household food security under a changing climate in Borana, Ethiopia
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- Megersa, B., Markemann, A., Angassa, A. et al. Food Sec. (2014) 6: 15. doi:10.1007/s12571-013-0314-4
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While food insecurity is a growing concern across the developing nations, accentuated by climate variability and change, it could be even worse for pastoralists given their unpredictable exposure to climate risks. The Borana herders experience food insecurity as a result of recurring droughts causing huge losses of cattle, and are thus increasingly shifting from cattle pastoralism to multi-species herding. The present study examines the role of livestock diversification in combating household food insecurity using herders’ perceptions, a modified household food insecurity access scale (mHFIAS) and dietary diversity score. Herders perceived child growth, adult height and body condition to be decreasing as a result of declining milk production and changing dietary trends. Results also revealed a high level of seasonal food insecurity and low dietary diversity with the majority (81 %) consuming one to three food groups. Livestock diversification was a major factor affecting household food security. Households practising diversification had significantly fewer months of food deficit (2.3 vs. 3.8), lower mHFIAS (5.5 vs. 8.7) and a higher average off-take in the form of livestock sales (7.4 vs. 4.0) than non-diversified ones. Diversification improved dietary intake of specific food groups and the average number of meals consumed per day. While fruits, eggs and fish are not part of the Borana diet, a large number of respondents consumed no vegetables (93 %) or meat (96 %), potentiating the risk of micronutrient deficiencies. This study highlights the particular significance of livestock diversification, among other socio-demographic factors, in attaining food security under a changing climate in the study area.