FAO Agricultural Development Economics Working Papers

These working papers consist of intermediate research that may further evolve into academic publications or serve as background or preliminary studies for FAO's flagship publications, divisional series and other major publications.


Climate-Change Vulnerability in Rural Zambia

The Impact of an El Nino-Induced Shock on Income and Productivity

This paper examines the impacts of the El Niño during the 2015/2016 season on maize productivity and income in rural Zambia. The analysis aims at identifying whether and how sustainable land management (SLM) practices and livelihood diversification strategies have contributed to moderate the impacts of such a weather shock. The analysis was conducted using a specifically designed survey called the El Niño Impact Assessment Survey (ENIAS), which is combined with the 2015 wave of the Rural Agricultural Livelihoods Surveys (RALS), as well as high resolution rainfall data from the Africa Rainfall Climatology version 2 (ARC2). This unique, integrated data set provides an opportunity to understand the impacts of shocks like El Niño that are expected to get more frequent and severe in Zambia, as well as understand the agricultural practices and livelihood strategies that can buffer household production and welfare from the impacts of such shocks to drive policy recommendations. Results show that households affected by the drought experienced a decrease in maize yield by around 20 percent, as well as a reduction in income up to 37 percent, all else equal. Practices that moderated the impact of the drought included livestock diversification, income diversification, and the adoption of agro-forestry. Interestingly, the use of minimum soil disturbance was not effective in moderating the yield and income effects of the drought. Policies to support livestock sector development, agroforestry adoption, and off-farm diversification should be prioritized as effective drought resiliency strategies in Zambia.


Keywords: vulnerability, risk management, Zambia, Crop productivity
JEL: O13: Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth / Economic Development / Economic Development: Agriculture; Natural Resources; Energy; Environment; Other Primary Products; Q12: Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics / Agriculture / Micro Analysis of Farm Firms, Farm Households, and Farm Input Markets; Q01: Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics / General / Sustainable Development; Q16: Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics / Agriculture / Agricultural R&D; Agricultural Technology; Biofuels; Agricultural Extension Services
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