Drought and Rainfall Variability: Costs and Resiliency Pathways for Rural African Households


This Research Note presents monetary estimates of the costs that drought, and rainfall variability more generally, impose on rural households in sub-Saharan Africa (SSA). The Note characterizes rainfall environments faced by rural households in SSA. Crop production variability and the costs that drought and rainfall shortfalls generate for maize, wheat, and sorghum are then simulated using historical data from Ethiopia and Zambia. The analysis also explores the effectiveness of alternative resiliency strategies in reducing household costs from variable rainfall. The Research finds that off-farm employment and public transfers are effective strategies in terms of stabilizing household income and reducing the costs of rainfall induced income variability. But these strategies do not fully protect households. Going forward there is urgent need for robust integrated policies at continental, national, and local levels to assist smallholder farmers in adapting to climatic variability and change.