Academic journal article Eastern Africa Social Science Research Review

Water Infrastructure and Food Security Linkages En Three Selected Regions of Ethiopia

Academic journal article Eastern Africa Social Science Research Review

Water Infrastructure and Food Security Linkages En Three Selected Regions of Ethiopia

Article excerpt


Access to water infrastructure reduces the exposure of people to a variety of diseases that obstruct the intake and utilization of food. In addition, it can reduce the time of hauling water by women, thereby increasing their productivity and status. The study has considered two important water infrastructures, namely domestic water supply schemes, and irrigation that affect food security in Ethiopia. Three regions that fell within the Ethiopian portion of the Nile Basin, namely Amhara, Oromia and Tigrai, were purposively selected. Data and information pertaining to food security situations and the status of domestic water supply and irrigation for all zones in the three selected regions of Ethiopia have been collected. Descriptive and inferential statistical techniques have been used to analyze the data. The findings of the study have shown that food security status in the three studied regions is generally low and varies considerably from zone to zone and from region to region. The study has also established the existence of strong linkages between water infrastructure and food security in Ethiopia. There are a relatively lower number of food insecure people in areas where there are better accesses to water supply and irrigation agriculture. This implies the need for policy interventions that can help in upgrading and expanding water infrastructures, adopting an integrated food security and infrastructure development approach, maintaining the existing water schemes, and universalizing water coverage in Ethiopia.

Keywords: Ethiopia, water scarcity, livelihood vulnerability, food security, water infrastructure


Food insecurity is explained by multiple factors, including rapid population growth, diminishing land holdings, lack of on-farm technological innovations, lack of off-farm income sources, climatic shocks, resource degradation, bad governance and inefficient policies, widespread epidemics (e.g. malaria, tuberculosis), poor physical and social infrastructure, and conflicts (FAO 2007). It is generally related to the poor performance of the agricultural sector in general and the smallholder agriculture in particular. For instance, poor infrastructure and weak marketing system have contributed to food insecurity in the Sudan {Ibid). Moreover, FAO (2005) reports that food insecurity in northern Uganda has been caused primarily by poor market infrastructure. In similar ways, water infrastructure influences food security in Ethiopia as do inadequate infrastructure, limited investment in rural areas, high rate of HIV prevalence, lack of improved technology, and poor market integration.

Food security ideas have evolved from a phase when food shortage was seen as a problem of food scarcity at national and international levels in the early 1970s to a current stage where it is understood as an outcome of livelihood vulnerability at household and individual levels. The emergence of the concept of food security very much relates to the policy concerns towards combating an increasing malnutrition and famine at the global level. The issue of food security has, therefore, become central to academic research, resulting in the formulation of food security theories with different perspectives. As will be discussed in the next section of the study, there have been considerable shifts in thoughts and concerns regarding food security since the early 1970s.

Infrastructure refers to basic facilities, services and installations, such as domestic water supply schemes, irrigation systems, transportation and communication systems, power lines and public institutions needed for the functioning of a community or society (FAO 2007). These infrastructures connect rural areas to the urban, regional, and global economies. Hence, improvements in infrastructure play decisive roles in propelling development processes. Infrastructure can broadly be divided into two categories: physical and socio-economic. …

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