Using natural areas and empowering women to buffer food security and nutrition from climate shocks: Evidence from Ghana, Zambia, and Bangladesh

As climate change makes precipitation shocks more common, policymakers are becoming increasingly interested in protecting food systems and nutrition outcomes from the damaging effects of droughts and floods (Wheeler and von Braun, 2013). Increasing the resilience of nutrition and food security outcomes is especially critical throughout agrarian parts of the developing world, where human subsistence and well-being are directly affected by local rainfall. In this study, we use data from Feed the Future datasets from Ghana, Zambia, and Bangladesh to examine the impact of precipitation extremes on food security as well as the role of natural land cover and women’s empowerment in creating resilience. We first model the effects of extreme rainfall on indicators of nutrition and food security, and then examine whether women’s empowerment and environmental land cover types can dampen the effects of rainfall shocks on these food security and nutrition outcomes. Our results find that there is a strong association between extreme precipitation and household hunger. Further, they suggest that in certain contexts land cover types providing ecosystem services can reduce household hunger scores, that empowering women can mitigate the effects of precipitation shocks, and that there may be an interactive effect between ecosystem service availability and women’s empowerment.

Zambia RALS Harmonized Dataset

The team processed the Feed the Future baseline and interim datasets for Zambia, applying standard processing methods to enhance their accessibility, interoperability, and comparison with other FTF datasets. This work entailed standardization of variable names and labels, the creation of derived socio-economic indicators such as dietary diversity scores, household dependency ratios, and household age and gender composition variables. Moreover, the provision of household GIS coordinates (offset for confidentiality purposes) would allow users to match data at different levels. The team used and processed the Rural Agricultural Livelihood Survey (RALS) 2012 and 2015, although the dataset at the unit-level cannot be shared as of yet pending confirmation of the data sharing agreements with the data provider.

Research Priorities for Zambia - Policy Note

Climate change is a substantial threat to sustainable development in Zambia, a country experiencing weather hazards, drought and dry spells, seasonal and flash floods, and extreme temperatures that may well increase under climate change. Achieving the goals of Feed the Future and the Global Food Security Strategy requires careful consideration of the impact of relevant climate science on agricultural production, while at the same time considering other cross-cutting issues that influence agriculture-led poverty alleviation, resilience, and nutrition—such as gender. This policy note summarizes assessments of these linkages for Zambia under GCAN.

GCAN presentation to USAID mission in Zambia

During a week-long visit in Zambia in November 2016, the GCAN team presented key climate-gender-nutrition linkages to the USAID Mission. Productive discussions took place between the GCAN team and USAID Mission staff on priorities and potential research topics that would inform USAID's programming in Zambia. The GCAN team also met with local implementing partners and stakeholders to gather information on current initiatives related to climate-gender-nutrition linkages in Zambia. GCAN presentation to Zambia USAID Mission slide deck


Zambia is a landlocked country in the central African plateau bordering eight other countries. The goal of Feed the Future in Zambia is to sustainably reduce poverty and hunger, as evidenced through a decrease (more…)