Poverty it requires identifying the factors determining the poverty

Poverty
has become one of the most intractable economic and social problems in the
twenty first century. Vulnerability, poverty and income inequality are a
concern to both developing and developed countries across the world making them
the central agenda in both Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and the
Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) (Melamed, 2014; IFPRI, 2014). These problems are especially
more serious in developing African countries like Ethiopia.

African
countries are at large hit by poverty incidence, vulnerable and weakly resilient
mainly 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 the
country among the poorest nations in the world (UNDP, 2013). Ethiopia is a country where more than half of
its households are poor and food insecure (Jemal and Kim, 2014), vulnerable to hazardous
climate variability (Temesgen
et al., 2009) that involve
recurrent drought, flood, heavy rain, strong winds, frost, high temperatures,
and lightning affecting agriculture (Di Falco et al., 2011).

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In Eastern
Ethiopia, crop production reduction was reported in agro-pastoralist and
sedentary farming livelihood zones due to erratic rainfall.  Crops mainly grown in this area like sorghum
and maize are highly affected and the zone lost more than half of the expected harvest
from these crops (FAO,
2012). The El Niño effects in the country left over 10 million people to
be in need of humanitarian assistance throughout 2016, the condition being more
exacerbated leaving poor households of East and West Hararghe zones in extended
emergency food insecurity (UNICEF, 2016). UNICEF  2016 Ethiopia El Nino Emergency Fact Sheet: http://www.unicef.org/ethiopia/emergency.html

To have a meaningful
intervention and assist the poor in the area it requires identifying the factors
determining the poverty and inequality in locally specified context and need to
measure the magnitude of poverty. The worst thing about poverty is that people
who are not necessarily poor now may inevitably be vulnerable to poverty in the
years to come unless they adjust themselves to new circumstances against
poverty. Therefore, it is high time to investigate the poverty, vulnerability
and inequality status and disentangle the interwoven factors that determine
household vulnerability to poverty in the agro-pastoral areas of Eastern
Ethiopia.

1.2
Statement of the Problem

Different internal and external shocks
such as climate variability have profound effects on agriculture and food
security. Farm households in local communities are vulnerable to the threat of
climate change and variability; though, their contribution to greenhouse gas
emission is little. The most vulnerable are poor and marginalized farm
households who are highly reliant on agriculture consume for their subsistence
agricultural production (Devereux, 2016). Due to the several subsequent
climatic, idiosyncratic and political shocks, the real situation in the rural
areas of Ethiopia needs to be studied.

In recent years, Ethiopia is
showing a tremendous change in economic growth. There are reports claiming that
the number of people
moving out of poverty is increasing from year to year (MoFED, 2013). However,
empirical literature shows that poverty and inequality, in general, and chronic
and transitory poverty, in particular, have long history in rural areas and
show growing trends (Adugna, 2012).

Even
though there were different studies at national level at different times on
poverty and inequality; these variables change spatiotemporally. For sustained
fight against rural poverty and inequality; and for the realization of poverty
and inequality free Ethiopia, there is a need to design pro-poor and location
specific poverty and inequality reduction policies and strategies in the
country generally, and this is an on-going effort since fifteen years ago. Due
to fact that the country is differentiated with diverse socio-economic
settings, and agro-climatic zones, it is hardly possible to use poverty and
inequality assessment results carried out elsewhere in the country for other
areas. Regional vulnerability, poverty and inequality analysis results are
seldom used by other districts as the households may differ in their
socio-cultural contexts and livelihood strategies being pursued.

Little empirical work has been done that examines the
vulnerability of households to poverty in Ethiopia. This is despite the fact
that this country is renowned for being acutely vulnerable to economic and
environmental shocks at different times. Following the need to analyze farmer
households’ vulnerability to poverty and income inequality that prevails,
critical assessment is required in the rural areas of Eastern Ethiopia. There
are 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 the
poverty did not include the ex-ante
vulnerability aspect. In order to reduce poverty and inequality, policymakers
need information on both the current incidence of poverty and inequality; and
also the magnitude of the threat of poverty, measured ex-ante (Calvo and
Dercon, 2005).

This
is the reason behind the need to analyze rural peoples’ vulnerability to
poverty at a household level. Hence, this study seeks to fill the existing knowledge
gap concerning tackling ex post poverty and ex ante vulnerability and income inequality. A separate
analysis is important specifically at farm household level to assess poverty,
vulnerability and inequality of farmer households in the fate of shocks like
climate variability and their linkages in rural areas of Eastern Ethiopia.

1.3 Objectives
of the Study

The
general objective of this study is look into the poverty, vulnerability and
inequality status of rural households in Eastern part of Ethiopia, thereby
contributing 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.      To
measure the current status of poverty in the study area.

2.      To
identify the determinants of poverty
in the study area

3.      To
assess the degree of households’
vulnerability to poverty and

4.      To find the determinants of
vulnerability to  in the research area

5.      To
measure the level of inequality existing between the households in the study
area

6.      To
identify the most effective coping strategies against shocks adopted by rural
households and to determine factors influencing such strategies.