Using natural areas and empowering women to buffer food security and nutrition from climate shocks: Evidence from Ghana, Zambia, and Bangladesh

Matthew Cooper
ifpri discussion paper
2018

As climate change makes precipitation shocks more common, policymakers are becoming increasingly interested in protecting food systems and nutrition outcomes from the damaging effects of droughts and floods (Wheeler and von Braun, 2013). Increasing the resilience of nutrition and food security outcomes is especially critical throughout agrarian parts of the developing world, where human subsistence and well-being are directly affected by local rainfall. In this study, we use data from Feed the Future datasets from Ghana, Zambia, and Bangladesh to examine the impact of precipitation extremes on food security as well as the role of natural land cover and women’s empowerment in creating resilience. We first model the effects of extreme rainfall on indicators of nutrition and food security, and then examine whether women’s empowerment and environmental land cover types can dampen the effects of rainfall shocks on these food security and nutrition outcomes. Our results find that there is a strong association between extreme precipitation and household hunger. Further, they suggest that in certain contexts land cover types providing ecosystem services can reduce household hunger scores, that empowering women can mitigate the effects of precipitation shocks, and that there may be an interactive effect between ecosystem service availability and women’s empowerment.