Resilience in the Face of Drought: Evidence from Ethiopia

Speeches Shim

Successive years of drought in the Horn of Africa pushed the region to a state of emergency in 2016. More than 70 million people were at risk of becoming food insecure. Development gains were under threat and already-strained national governments and the international humanitarian community were struggling to respond to the scale and severity of the crisis.

Recent evidence from TANGO and USAID underscores the vital importance of strengthening the resilience of households, communities and countries. These long-term investments by governments and donors, such as USAID, are key to breaking the cycle of crises among chronically vulnerable households and communities and
ultimately reducing their dependence on humanitarian assistance.

Evidence from Ethiopia’s lowlands show that households in communities that were reached by USAID’s comprehensive resilience programs were better able to maintain their food security in the face of the historic 2016 drought, whereas other communities faced a substantial decline.

What likely contributed to greater resilience in 2016?

Households’ own prior resilience capacities played a strong role in their recovery from the drought.

  • Bonding and bridging social capital
  • Access to markets
  • Human capital and exposure to information
  • Availability of hazard insurance
  • Access to safety nets (both formal and informal)
  • Disaster preparedness and mitigation activities
  • Asset ownership, access to financial resources, and cash savings
  • Presence of a civic group in households’ communities
"An Ounce of Prevention is Worth a Pound of Cure"

Among households that experienced the most severe drought conditions, those in communities reached by a comprehensive set of resilience programming experienced a minimal decline (4%), while other households declined significantly (30%)*.

Friday, April 14, 2017 - 8:15am

Last updated: February 06, 2019