Types of Research
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This brief presents an overview of EPAR’s previous research on nutrition and food security and outlines summaries and key findings from 15 technical reports and research briefs. Key findings are drawn from our own original analyses as well as from other sources, which are cited in the individual reports. We also include appendices briefly summarizing EPAR’s research on health and climate change, topics somewhat related to nutrition and food security, and EPAR’s confidential work on nutrition and food security.
Relative to chronic hunger, seasonal hunger in rural and urban areas of Africa is poorly understood. No estimates are compiled, and limited evidence exists on prevalence, causes, and impacts. This paper contributes to the body of evidence by examining the extent and potential drivers of seasonal hunger using panel data from the Malawi Integrated Household Panel Survey (IHPS). Farmers are commonly thought to use various strategies to smooth consumption, including planting “off-season” crops, investing in post-harvest storage technologies, or generally diversifying farm portfolios including livestock products and/or wild crops. Similarly, when markets are available, farmers may diversify through off-farm income sources in order to purchase food in lean seasons. We investigate whether seasonal hunger – distinct from chronic hunger – exists in Malawi, drawing on two waves of panel data from the LSMS-ISA series. We examine the extent of seasonal hunger, factors associated with variation in seasonal hunger, and how recurring and longer-term seasonal hunger might be associated with various household welfare measures. We find that both urban and rural households report experiencing seasonal hunger in the pre-harvest months, with descriptive evidence suggesting male gender, age, and education of household head, livestock ownership, and storage of crops are associated with lower levels of seasonal hunger. In addition, we find that Malawian households with seasonal hunger harvest crops earlier than average – a short-term coping mechanism that can reduce the crop’s yield and nutritional value, possibly perpetuating hunger.
Household survey data are a key source of information for policy-makers at all levels. In developing countries, household data are commonly used to target interventions and evaluate progress towards development goals. The World Bank’s Living Standards Measurement Study - Integrated Surveys on Agriculture (LSMS-ISA) are a particularly rich source of nationally-representative panel data for six Sub-Saharan African countries: Ethiopia, Malawi, Niger, Nigeria, Tanzania, and Uganda. To help understand how these data are used, EPAR reviewed the existing literature referencing the LSMS-ISA and identified 415 publications, working papers, reports, and presentations with primary research based on LSMS-ISA data. We find that use of the LSMS-ISA has been increasing each year since the first survey waves were made available in 2009, with several universities, multilateral organizations, government offices, and research groups across the globe using the data to answer questions on agricultural productivity, farm management, poverty and welfare, nutrition, and several other topics.
This four-part analysis describes the current suite of food security measures, then analyzes the respective relationships between food security and poverty, GDP, and crop yields using findings from in-depth literature reviews. Food security measures are criticized for inaccurately characterizing food security at individual, household, and national scales, yet guidelines exist to prescribe a food security measure for a given situation. Some authors see the potential of a combination of indicators that apply at different scales rather than a single, universal food security measure. Limited literature exists on the relationship between food security and poverty, GDP, or crop yields. The relationship between food security and poverty is particularly challenging because neither term has a consistent definition, and the limited literature suggests a lack of consensus among experts. Little empirical research exists on the relationship between food security and GDP, though studies generally note an association between the two Studies that evaluate food security and crop yields provide limited evidence that the two are associated, though many studies use measures of crop yield as food security indicators and vice versa. More research is needed to establish whether there are preferred food security measurement tools for specific scales and situations, and to further explore the relationship between food security and poverty, GDP, and crop yields.
This is "Section B" of a report that presents estimates and summary statistics from the 2008/2009 wave of the Tanzania National Panel Survey (TZNPS), part of the Living Standards Measurement Study – Integrated Surveys on Agriculture (LSMS-ISA). We present our analyses of household characteristics by gender and by administrative zone, considering landholding size, number of crops grown, yields, livestock, input use, and food consumption.
This is "Section H" of a report that presents estimates and summary statistics from the 2008/2009 wave of the Tanzania National Panel Survey (TZNPS), part of the Living Standards Measurement Study – Integrated Surveys on Agriculture (LSMS-ISA). We present our analysis of nutrition and malnutrition, and of the variation across agricultural and non-agricultural households, gender, age, and zones. For example, we find that stunting (low height for age) was the most prevalent indicator of malnutrition, with 43% of the under-five population categorized in the moderate to severe range, while less than 17% children under the age of five were reported to be underweight (low weight for age). A higher proportion of children in female-headed households experienced stunting (46% versus 42% in male-headed households) and were underweight (19% versus 16% in male-headed households).
This is "Section G" of a report that presents estimates and summary statistics from the 2008/2009 wave of the Tanzania National Panel Survey (TZNPS), part of the Living Standards Measurement Study – Integrated Surveys on Agriculture (LSMS-ISA). We present our analyses of data related to consumption of priority foods, total value of consumption, levels of food consumption and production, including analyses by zone in Tanzania. We find, for example, that the mean total value of household consumption was higher for agricultural households (US$27.28) compared to non-agricultural households (US$26.59), but the mean per capita value of household consumption was higher for non-agricultural households (US$7.32) compared to agricultural households (US$5.24). The mean per capita value of weekly consumption for the Southern zone was only US$5.34, compared to the highest mean per capita value of US$6.63 in the Eastern zone. The Central zone still had the lowest per capita value of consumption at US$4.40.
This is the introductory section of a report that presents estimates and summary statistics from the 2008/2009 wave of the Tanzania National Panel Survey (TZNPS), part of the Living Standards Measurement Study – Integrated Surveys on Agriculture (LSMS-ISA). We present an overview of report sections, as well as an executive summary of findings on crops and livestock, constraints to productivity, and productivity and nutrition outcomes.
This literature review examines the environmental impacts of water buffalo in pastoral and mixed farming systems in Sub-Saharan Africa, South Asia, and South America). The environmental impacts of water buffalo are less widely studied than those of the other livestock species included in this series; typically, the environmental impacts of water buffalo are incorporated into discussions of cattle without more detailed impacts being broken down by bovine type. In Asia and India, where the majority of buffalo are raised, buffalo are typically kept in small herds of only a few animals, which may minimize the local impacts of their grazing on vegetation, soil erosion and water pollution. Some aspects of buffalo feeding and life cycle patterns, as observed in the Amazon, may cause their greenhouse gas emissions to differ from those of cattle: buffalo can fatten on a wider range of grasses, reach market size in a shorter time, transition better from dry to wet seasons, and are more resistant to bovine diseases. While buffalo grazing and trampling can lead to land degradation, buffalo can contribute to nutrient and resource cycling in farming systems because their manure is considered good fertilizer and they can remove and utilize biomass grown on agricultural plots. Mitigation strategies vary by category of environmental impact, but largely suggest improved productivity to reduce land conversion, modified management systems (e.g., biodiversity, water use and consumption, farm and pastures, and waste), and the reduction of livestock numbers altogether.
This literature review examines the environmental impacts of cattle in pastoral and mixed farming systems in Sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia. Cattle are frequently cited as having the most severe overall environmental impacts among livestock species due to: methane and nitrous oxide released from digestion and manure; land use and conversion; desertification; inefficient ratio of weight of feed and water consumed to weight of meat and dairy produced; conflicts between livestock herders and wildlife; the large volume of wastewater produced in meat and hide processing; and overgrazing of riparian areas. However, cattle have also been found to provide several environmental benefits such as keeping wildlife corridors open, preventing the spread of noxious weeds, and promoting the growth of local vegetative species. Mitigation strategies vary by category of environmental impact, but largely suggest improved productivity to reduce land conversion, modified management systems (e.g., biodiversity, water use and consumption, farm and pastures, grain and other feed, and waste), and the reduction of livestock numbers altogether.