Sustainability Science

, Volume 11, Issue 2, pp 193–214 | Cite as

Investigating the sensitivity of household food security to agriculture-related shocks and the implication of social and natural capital

  • Byela TibesigwaEmail author
  • Martine Visser
  • Mark Collinson
  • Wayne Twine
Original Article
Part of the following topical collections:
  1. Climate Change Mitigation, Adaption, and Resilience


This paper examines the impact of agriculture-related shocks on consumption patterns of rural farming households using 3 years of data from South Africa. We make two key observations. First, agriculture-related shocks reduce households’ consumption. Second, natural resources and informal social capital somewhat counteract this reduction and sustain dietary requirements. In general, our findings suggest the promotion of informal social capital and natural resources as they are cheaper and more accessible coping strategies, in comparison to, for example, insurance, which remains unaffordable in most rural parts of sub-Saharan Africa. However, a lingering concern centres on the sustainability of these less conventional adaptation strategies.


Food security Natural capital Social capital Weather-related crop failure 



We are thankful and acknowledge helpful comments from participants at the Africa Climate Development Initiative (ACDI) seminar series and the 5th World Congress of Environmental and Resource Economists (WCERE). We also thank the Environment for Development (EfD) Initiative and Economic Research Southern Africa (ERSA) for financial support. The SUCSES panel study was funded by the South African National Research foundation. This work was indirectly supported by the Wellcome Trust (Grant 085477/Z/08/Z) through its support of the Agincourt Health and Demographic Surveillance System.


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Copyright information

© Springer Japan 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • Byela Tibesigwa
    • 1
    Email author
  • Martine Visser
    • 1
  • Mark Collinson
    • 2
    • 3
  • Wayne Twine
    • 4
  1. 1.Environmental-Economics Policy Research Unit, School of EconomicsUniversity of Cape TownCape TownSouth Africa
  2. 2.MRC/Wits University Rural Public Health and Health Transitions Research Unit (Agincourt), School of Public Health, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of the WitwatersrandJohannesburgSouth Africa
  3. 3.INDEPTH NetworkAccraGhana
  4. 4.School of Animal, Plant and Environmental SciencesUniversity of the WitwatersrandJohannesburgSouth Africa

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