A Profile of Food Insecurity Dynamics in Rural and Small Town Ethiopia

This paper documents the state of food insecurity in Ethiopia based on information from a large sample of households representative of all rural and small-town areas of Ethiopia. The data, which cover nearly 4,000 households, were collected in 2011/12 and 2013/14. We use the data to explore the nature of food insecurity, static and dynamic, in this vulnerable population: First, we use multiple measures to document the prevalence of food insecurity. Second, we document how the prevalence of food insecurity changed between survey waves and how measures of food security covary over time. Finally, we document the types of variation within and between geographic areas that drives changes in food security and what they say about whether food security is localized or widespread. Thus, using recent, representative panel data and multiple measures of food security, this paper complements previous studies of food security in rural Ethiopia. While food security is typically defined by the three pillars listed above (food availability, access, utilization and the temporal stability of each of these); it is, however, an inherently multidimensional concept. In terms of one of its broadest definitions, “food security exists when all people, at all times, have physical and economic access to sufficient, safe and nutritious food that meets their dietary needs and food preferences for an active and healthy life ”. Some indicators capture food safety and the cultural acceptability of the household diet in addition to standard indicators of availability (often at the country level), access (often at the household level), and utilization.