The concept of Food Security can be traced back to the early 1990s whose focus is beyond just the provision and supply of food at national level. The concept has over the years had various general definitions to it with divergent views as to what food security is. One definition that stand out arose from the 1966 World Food Summit that defined it as the accessibility to safe and nutritious food that is required for one to maintain a healthy lifestyle (Funds for NGOs, 2019). The three basic aims of food security are to ensure that there is production of adequate food supplies whilst ensuring accessibility to those that need them.
Therefore, attainment of food security at house hold level has continued to be a very important issue in many developing countries who are struggling with food insecurity. FAO et al, (2012) reported that the vast majority of those affected are in Sub-Saharan Africa were despite many attempts with support from international organizations such as the Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) and the World Food Programme (WFP) to achieve food security , this has continued to be a major challenge.
The problems facing food security continue to be on the rise as reported in 2016 were it was said that the number of undernourished people increased to an estimated 815 million, up from 777 million in 2015 (FAO, 2017). The most affected are those living in very high poverty regions in the world especially Africa which is the home to the largest population of those that are poverty stricken (Nkegbe et al, 2017). Zambia has not been spared with the Global Hunger Index (GHI) report having ranked it among the countries that have alarming hunger levels (International Food Policy Research Institute, 2017). The predominant livelihood activity in Zambia is small scale farming, were the cultivation of maize and livestock rearing is the main stay. The major country’s labour force is also in the agriculture sector which is said to employ about 72% of the national population. Because of their lack of access to proper farming equipment and drought many of these small scale farmers are adversely affected by food insecurity (Nkomoki et al, 2019). There have been many examples of food insecurity in Sub-Saharan Africa with some having reached alarming levels, such as in the Horn of Africa or Southern Madagascar. Food insecurity is not seen as just the insufficient food production, availability and intake but also about the poor quality or nutritional value of food. This situation is very serious especially among women and children who receive less food than their male counterparts in the same household (Sasson, 2012).
In Zambia the food security situation in the recent past has been acute leading to food insecurity, with the country also facing a shortage of clean and safe water, chronic high malnutrition, an energy deficit and livestock diseases. This is as a result of the devastating effects of prolonged dry spells that have been coupled with the late onset of the rains that affected many parts of the country with Southern, and the Western parts of Lusaka and the Eastern and Central Provinces. This resulted in most households not having enough food as the stocks from the previous farming season had been depleted. Furthermore with many of these households relying heavily on rain fed crop production for food and income, any prolonged dry spells from the normal pattern drastically undermined their food security (International Federation of the Red Cross and Red Crescent, 2019).
One of the major causes of food insecurity at household level is the inability to produce enough food, mainly due to the lack of the agricultural support services coupled with the unfavourable climatic conditions, diseases and insect attacks. This is leads to the inability to purchase food, the inadequate market and transport systems to take food from surplus to areas that have a deficit within the country. The impact of HIV/AIDS has also been of grave concern as regards to the productive capacity of households. The detrimental impact of HIV/AIDS may have on many poor households productivity capacity and food security remains a great concern in Zambia
Another problem that has led to food insecurity is that of poverty which is said to account for two thirds of the population that live below the poverty line. Poverty greatly impacts food security because despite maize production the common livelihood for many households (by far the largest industry in Zambia), many still remain net buyers of maize and do their farming on less than one hectare of land. The top two percent of small scale farmers that produce 50 percent of the maize means that there is substantial stratification in the income from maize production. With many of the poor households relying on other incomes from other sectors to meet their food needs, they remain vulnerable to price (FEWS NET, 2013).
Food represents a large share of the budget of poor households in Zambia which leads to a reduction in the purchasing power due to the price shocks. This forces these households to cut back on the quality or quantity of food. Many of these poor households are also forced to sell many of the assets in order to cope with these sharp changes in food prices. Furthermore these poor households are less able to take advantage of the high prices due to their low purchasing power and limited access to productive assets and credit due to their remoteness from market (Brunelin, 2014).
Statement of the Problem
Food insecurity has become a scourge that greatly affects Zambia. Developmental efforts are being hampered because the country is not able to provide food security to the general populace. The multifaceted nature of achieving of food security in most households failing to find coping strategies to food insecurity. Most of these households have shown increased vulnerability due to various factors such as dependency on rain fed agriculture coupled with the ever rising cost of farming inputs and other food commodities which has made accessibility difficult. Emerging issues in climate change which has greatly affected the weather pattern resulting in increased number of droughts and floods has further reduced the coping strategies of these households.
Objectives of the Study
This study is aimed at investigating the coping strategies applied by households in Kafue and Kakoso Wards to mitigate the effect of food insecurity.
- To find out the food insecurity coping strategies that are employed by households in the two wards
- To ascertain the effectiveness of coping strategies in mitigating food insecurity
- To investigate the coping strategies that can be used to indicate food insecurity
- What are the food insecurity coping strategies employed by households in Kafue and Kakoso Wards?
- What is the effectiveness of coping strategies in mitigating food insecurity?
- What coping strategies can be used as an indication of food insecurity?
Significance of the study
The study will be of great importance, especially at present when there is little understanding of coping strategies that can be employed by households that are facing food insecurity in Chililabombwe district. This study is of vital to better understand how households can respond to household food insecurity. Knowing the full picture and true extent of food insecurity in Chililabombwe will assist in the development of more effective and meaningful policies and programmes that can be employed to address food insecurity.
It is also important to know how households are able to cope with food insecurity to enable the evaluation and development of timely and socially relevant intervention programmes. This information would be very important and useful in the development of effective and efficient food indicators for analysis, monitoring and evaluation.
Limitations of the study
This study will mainly focus on the coping strategies that are employed by households when they experience income shocks and food shortages that result in food insecurity. The study will not focus on investigating the nutritional status of the households, although some questions related to these issues will be asked to understand the households that will be sampled.