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Households and food security: Lessons from food secure households in East Africa

Research output: Contribution to Journal/MagazineJournal articlepeer-review

  • Silvia Silvestri
  • Douxchamps Sabine
  • Kristjanson Patti
  • Förch Wiebke
  • Radeny Maren
  • Mutie Ianetta
  • Quiros F. Carlos
  • Herrero Mario
  • Ndungu Anthony
  • Ndiwa Nicolas
  • Mango Joash
  • Claessens Lieven
  • Mariana Cristina Rufino
Article number23
<mark>Journal publication date</mark>4/12/2015
<mark>Journal</mark>Agriculture and Food Security
Issue number1
Publication StatusPublished
<mark>Original language</mark>English


Background: What are the key factors that contribute to household-level food security? What lessons can we learn from food secure households? What agricultural options and management strategies are likely to benefit female-headed households in particular? This paper addresses these questions using a unique dataset of 600 households that allows us to explore a wide range of indicators capturing different aspects of performance and well-being for different types of households-female-headed, male-headed, food secure, food insecure-and assess livelihoods options and strategies and how they influence food security. The analysis is based on a detailed farm household survey carried out in three sites in Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania. Results: Our results suggest that food insecurity may not be more severe for female-headed households than male-headed households. We found that food secure farming households have a wider variety of crops on their farms and are more market oriented than are the food insecure. More domestic assets do not make female-headed households more food secure. For the other categories of assets (livestock, transport, and productive), we did not find evidence of a correlation with food security. Different livelihood portfolios are being pursued by male versus female-headed households, with female-headed households less likely to grow high-value crops and more likely to have a less diversified crop portfolio. Conclusions: These findings help identify local, national and regional policies and actions for enhancing food security of female-headed as well as male-headed households. These include interventions that improve households' access to information, e.g., though innovative communication and knowledge-sharing efforts and support aimed at enhancing women's and men's agricultural market opportunities.