Nexus between coping strategies and households' agricultural drought resilience to food insecurity in South Africa
Bahta, Yonas T.
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Farmers in Africa, including those in South Africa, rely on rain-fed agriculture, which exposes them to the risks of agricultural drought. Agricultural drought has become a major threat to agricultural production, including the extreme mortality of livestock in recent years, thus negatively impacting household food security. Hence, this paper is aimed at (i) assessing the coping strategies employed by smallholding livestock-farming households during food insecurity shocks, and (ii) assessing the relationship between coping strategies and agricultural drought resilience to food insecurity in the Northern Cape Province of South Africa. Interviews, more specifically survey interviews, were conducted with 217 smallholder livestock farmers. The data was analyzed using the agricultural drought resilience index (ADRI), the household food insecurity access scale (HFIAS), and structural equation modeling. Smallholder livestock farming households utilized various coping strategies, ranging from selling livestock (21%) to leasing out their farms (1%). The coping strategies of farming households included using alternative land (20%), storing food (20%), requesting feed for their animals (16%), searching for alternative employment (6%), migrating (6%), raising drought-tolerant breeds (5%), receiving relief grants (3%) and using savings and investments (2%). A statistically significant relationship between coping strategies and agricultural drought resilience to food insecurity means that these strategies have important policy implications. Implementing strategies that encourage households to protect their livelihood and utilize their assets (selling livestock) to increase their resilience is crucial for reducing food insecurity and achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to end hunger and poverty.