Staving off the hungry season in Zambia: Testing a simple and cost-effective approach

  • Multiple countries in sub-Saharan African experience seasonal extreme food insecurity, a phenomenon in some cases referred to as the “hungry season.” In Zambia, the context of this project, recent studies suggest that between 60-80% of rural households run out of food before the annual harvest.
  • Seasonal food insecurity has serious impacts on health and wellbeing. Furthermore, coping strategies have been shown to have negative impacts on farm output.
  • This study investigates whether a simple planning exercise with farming households in the Eastern Province of Zambia can help farmers save for the hungry season and impact consumption levels, child nutrition and wellbeing, and farm output and investment.
  • Preliminary results show that after undertaking the exercise, households request labels to help them track their expenditures, spend less on “luxury” goods, and forecast that they will have fewer bags of maize in the future. Subsequent rounds of data collection will explore impacts on consumption, savings, and expenditures.