The impact of food assistance on pastoralist livelihoods in humanitarian crises: An evidence synthesis

This evidence synthesis is accompanied by an evidence brief which summaries the findings

Abstract

Pastoralists rely on coping and adaptation strategies that have historically allowed them to achieve high levels of productivity, manage the hazards and unpredictability of life in the marginal areas that they occupy and moderate the impacts of shocks (Butt et al., 2009; Hesse and Pattison, 2013; Morton, 2006). But despite the unique suitability of these strategies to their livelihoods, the food security of many pastoralist populations – especially in Africa – is increasingly under threat. Crises faced by pastoralists have increased in frequency and intensity in recent decades. Climate change, political marginalization, loss of grazing land, restrictions on mobility and other detrimental policies pursued by national governments mean that some pastoralists are no longer able to overcome them without outside assistance (Markakis, 2004: 4).

Such assistance has taken many forms, but nutrition and food security have been the priorities of most humanitarian interventions, which have usually involved direct provision of food in-kind to affected populations. But can such food aid address food security? Does it contribute to the erosion of livelihoods? Does it lead to a change in mobility patterns?

This evidence synthesis, carried out by a team from the University of Toronto, represents the first ever attempt to identify, synthesize and evaluate existing evidence on both the short- and long-term impacts of in-kind food assistance on pastoralist populations and their livelihoods in humanitarian crises. Specifically, it aims to respond to 12 research questions in 6 main outcome areas:

  • changes in livelihood strategies and asset and income dynamics
  • mobility patterns
  • access to in-kind food assistance
  • household- and individual-level socio-demographic factors
  • social relations and governance
  • security

It is accompanied by an Evidence Brief: The Impact of food assistance on pastoralist livelihoods in humanitarian crises (Oxfam GB, 2017, 7p). The brief summarises key findings, indicates the country contexts from which evidence is drawn, outlines the methodology, highlights research gaps and provides references to the original literature.

This research was funded by UK Department for International Development through the Humanitarian Innovation and Evidence Programme. It forms part of a series of humanitarian evidence syntheses and systematic reviews

Citation

Czuba, K., O’Neill, T.J. and Ayala, A.P. (2017). The Impact of food assistance on pastoralist livelihoods in humanitarian crises: An evidence synthesis. Humanitarian Evidence Programme. Oxford: Oxfam GB, 54p

The impact of food assistance on pastoralist livelihoods in humanitarian crises: An evidence synthesis and evidence brief

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