Access to Agricultural Land and Nutritional Outcomes at the Household Level: A Gender Perspective Analysis in Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC)

Despite the huge DRC’s agricultural potential, the majority of the Congolese population remains largely vulnerable to food insecurity, malnutrition and hunger. While 71% of the labour force are employed in agriculture, there is a contrast between that proportion and the outcomes in terms of food and nutrition security. Using the 2014 DRC’s Demographic and Health Survey, this study attempt to examine the empirical linkages between access to farmland and household-level nutritional outcomes by examining gender differences in effects. Therefore, we use a series of statistical tools and estimate the effect of access to agricultural land on (i) the dietary diversity of children 6-23 months, (ii) the nutritional status of children under 5 years and, (iii) the nutritional status of women aged 15-49 years. Results suggest significant effects of access to agricultural land on nutritional outcomes in the full sample and in male and female-headed households’ subsamples as well. However, we note some gender differences. While the access to farmland constitutes a significant determinant of the children dietary diversity among female headed households, it also associated with a significant increase in the children height-for-age z-score in the male-headed households. Moreover, access to farmland affects positively the probability for a woman to have a normal body mass index in the male-headed households while it is associated with a significant decrease in the risk of woman anaemia among the female-headed households. In the DRC’s context where most female-headed households are single-parent, the effect of access to farmland on nutritional outcomes in the men's sub-sample could in fact include the unobserved contribution of women. Thus, the results of this study suggest some public policy implications for improving nutritional outcomes at the households’ level; especially for people with special needs such as children under 5 and lactating and / or pregnant women.