Rural Livelihood Strategies and Household Food Security of Farmers Surrounding Derba Cement Factory, Oromia Region, Ethiopia

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Abstract

This study examined the livelihood strategies and food security situation of rural households around Derba Cement Factory by taking a randomly selected sample of 215 heads of farm households from three rural kebeles. A mixed research approach was employed to triangulate concurrently collected data through household survey, key informant interviews and focus group discussions. Informed by the sustainable rural livelihood framework, descriptive statistics were used to describe rural households’ livelihood strategies and challenges they faced while inferential statistics was employed to explain households’ food security situations with different livelihood combinations. While mixed farming was found to be the mainstay of the household economy, small-scale irrigation and extracting forest products were also used as supplementary economic activities. More than a half of the respondents (52.5%) reported at least one non-farm activity. Land shortage was identified as a major constraint to expand crop production and this was further aggravated by the activities (e.g. querying leading to displacement) of the Derba Cement Factory. This further affected household labor allocation and natural resources utilization. The result of household food (in) security access scale indicated that 59% of the respondents have experienced food access insecurity in 2016. However, respondents who combined agriculture and non-farm activities appeared relatively more food secure than those engaged in agriculture alone or in non-farm activity only. Overall, households with multiple livelihood strategies had diverse food entitlements to maintain sustainable food consumption. Yet, necessity induced diversification was found to affect food access security of households. This calls for inclusive policies and strategies that integrate rural non-farm activities to subsistence farming in order to assure sustainable livelihood in rural communities.

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