Povertyhas become one of the most intractable economic and social problems in thetwenty first century. Vulnerability, poverty and income inequality are aconcern to both developing and developed countries across the world making themthe central agenda in both Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and theSustainable Development Goals (SDGs) (Melamed, 2014; IFPRI, 2014). These problems are especiallymore serious in developing African countries like Ethiopia.
Africancountries are at large hit by poverty incidence, vulnerable and weakly resilientmainly due to increase in climate variability that led to decreases in crop yields (Badolo and Romuald, 2015).Poverty is so widespread and rampant in Ethiopia that it made thecountry among the poorest nations in the world (UNDP, 2013). Ethiopia is a country where more than half ofits households are poor and food insecure (Jemal and Kim, 2014), vulnerable to hazardousclimate variability (Temesgenet al., 2009) that involverecurrent drought, flood, heavy rain, strong winds, frost, high temperatures,and lightning affecting agriculture (Di Falco et al., 2011).In EasternEthiopia, crop production reduction was reported in agro-pastoralist andsedentary farming livelihood zones due to erratic rainfall. Crops mainly grown in this area like sorghumand maize are highly affected and the zone lost more than half of the expected harvestfrom these crops (FAO,2012).
The El Niño effects in the country left over 10 million people tobe in need of humanitarian assistance throughout 2016, the condition being moreexacerbated leaving poor households of East and West Hararghe zones in extendedemergency food insecurity (UNICEF, 2016). UNICEF 2016 Ethiopia El Nino Emergency Fact Sheet: http://www.unicef.org/ethiopia/emergency.htmlTo have a meaningfulintervention and assist the poor in the area it requires identifying the factorsdetermining the poverty and inequality in locally specified context and need tomeasure the magnitude of poverty.
The worst thing about poverty is that peoplewho are not necessarily poor now may inevitably be vulnerable to poverty in theyears to come unless they adjust themselves to new circumstances againstpoverty. Therefore, it is high time to investigate the poverty, vulnerabilityand inequality status and disentangle the interwoven factors that determinehousehold vulnerability to poverty in the agro-pastoral areas of EasternEthiopia.1.
2Statement of the ProblemDifferent internal and external shockssuch as climate variability have profound effects on agriculture and foodsecurity. Farm households in local communities are vulnerable to the threat ofclimate change and variability; though, their contribution to greenhouse gasemission is little. The most vulnerable are poor and marginalized farmhouseholds who are highly reliant on agriculture consume for their subsistenceagricultural production (Devereux, 2016). Due to the several subsequentclimatic, idiosyncratic and political shocks, the real situation in the ruralareas of Ethiopia needs to be studied.In recent years, Ethiopia isshowing a tremendous change in economic growth. There are reports claiming thatthe number of peoplemoving out of poverty is increasing from year to year (MoFED, 2013).
However,empirical literature shows that poverty and inequality, in general, and chronicand transitory poverty, in particular, have long history in rural areas andshow growing trends (Adugna, 2012). Eventhough there were different studies at national level at different times onpoverty and inequality; these variables change spatiotemporally. For sustainedfight against rural poverty and inequality; and for the realization of povertyand inequality free Ethiopia, there is a need to design pro-poor and locationspecific poverty and inequality reduction policies and strategies in thecountry generally, and this is an on-going effort since fifteen years ago. Dueto fact that the country is differentiated with diverse socio-economicsettings, and agro-climatic zones, it is hardly possible to use poverty andinequality assessment results carried out elsewhere in the country for otherareas.
Regional vulnerability, poverty and inequality analysis results areseldom used by other districts as the households may differ in theirsocio-cultural contexts and livelihood strategies being pursued.Little empirical work has been done that examines thevulnerability of households to poverty in Ethiopia. This is despite the factthat this country is renowned for being acutely vulnerable to economic andenvironmental shocks at different times.
Following the need to analyze farmerhouseholds’ vulnerability to poverty and income inequality that prevails,critical assessment is required in the rural areas of Eastern Ethiopia. Thereare no recent studies carried out on poverty and inequality in the study area.Besides, those studies carried out in the past with special focus on thepoverty did not include the ex-antevulnerability aspect.
In order to reduce poverty and inequality, policymakersneed information on both the current incidence of poverty and inequality; andalso the magnitude of the threat of poverty, measured ex-ante (Calvo andDercon, 2005). Thisis the reason behind the need to analyze rural peoples’ vulnerability topoverty at a household level. Hence, this study seeks to fill the existing knowledgegap concerning tackling ex post poverty and ex ante vulnerability and income inequality. A separateanalysis is important specifically at farm household level to assess poverty,vulnerability and inequality of farmer households in the fate of shocks likeclimate variability and their linkages in rural areas of Eastern Ethiopia.1.
3 Objectivesof the StudyThegeneral objective of this study is look into the poverty, vulnerability andinequality status of rural households in Eastern part of Ethiopia, therebycontributing to the policies and strategies aiming at poverty alleviation,inequality reduction and enhancing the growth and development of the country.Specifically,the study aims:1. Tomeasure the current status of poverty in the study area.2. Toidentify the determinants of povertyin the study area3. Toassess the degree of households’vulnerability to poverty and 4.
To find the determinants ofvulnerability to in the research area 5. Tomeasure the level of inequality existing between the households in the studyarea 6. Toidentify the most effective coping strategies against shocks adopted by ruralhouseholds and to determine factors influencing such strategies.