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Determinants of food insecurity among smallholder farmer households in Central America 🔗
with many people (Regional Environmental Change, 2020)

Abstract. To ensure food security among rural communities under a changing climate, policymakers need information on the prevalence and determinants of food insecurity, the role of extreme weather events in exacerbating food insecurity, and the strategies that farmers use to cope with food insecurity. Using household surveys in Guatemala and Honduras, we explore the prevalence of food insecurity among smallholder farmers on both a recurrent (seasonal) and episodic (resulting from extreme weather events) basis, analyze the factors associated with both types of food insecurity, and document farmer coping strategies. Of the 439 households surveyed, 56% experienced recurrent food insecurity, 36% experienced episodic food insecurity due to extreme weather events, and 24% experienced both types. Food insecurity among smallholder farmers was correlated with sociodemographic factors (e.g., age, education, migration) and asset ownership. The factors affecting food insecurity differed between type and prevalence of food insecurity. Our results highlight the urgent need for policies and programs to help smallholder farmers improve their overall food security and resilience to extreme weather shocks. Such policies should focus on enhancing farmer education levels, securing land tenure, empowering women, promoting generational knowledge exchange, and providing emergency food support in the lean season or following extreme weather events.

Household and community responses to seasonal droughts in rural areas of Costa Rica 📄 🔗
with Madrigal-Ballestero, Salas, and Córdoba (Waterlines, 2019)

Abstract. This paper describes the adaptive responses of rural households and community-based drinking water organizations (CWOs) during seasonal droughts in Costa Rica. It empirically characterizes the adaptive measures used by 3,410 households and 81 CWOs in the driest area of the country. Volumetric pricing is a powerful adaptation option for managing water scarcity during these periods. However, these pricing schemes are not properly set to recover costs for adequate investment in water infrastructure. As a result, many CWOs rely on external financial support to cover these investments. The financial and governance restrictions characterizing most CWOs must be overcome in order to implement most of the adaptation measures identified for preparedness against seasonal drought. On the other hand, some rural households use water sources in addition to the tap water provided by CWOs (e.g. bottled water), as well as water-storing devices (e.g. buckets). The lack of effective adaptation of CWOs to water scarcity, expressed by unreliable piped-water systems, would probably lead to a higher use of these alternatives. This would entail higher costs to households, due to the time and resources invested in these activities. These costs and the potential additional costs on health represent the social costs of community failures to adapt to drier scenarios in existing piped-water systems.

Marine protected areas in Costa Rica: How do artisanal fishers respond? 📄 🔗
Madrigal-Ballestero, Albers, and Salas (Ambio, 2017)

Abstract. Costa Rica is considering expanding their marine protected areas (MPAs) to conserve marine resources. Due to the importance of households’ responses to an MPA in defining the MPA’s ecological and economic outcomes, this paper uses an economic decision framework to interpret data from near-MPA household surveys to inform this policy discussion. The model and data suggest that the impact of expanding MPAs relies on levels of enforcement and on-shore wages. If larger near-shore MPAs can produce high wages through increased tourism, MPA expansions could provide ecological benefits with low burdens to communities. Due to distance costs and gear investments, however, MPAs farther off-shore may place high burdens on off-shore fishers.

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