Climate change is continuously straining livelihoods, resources and food for smallholder farmers (SHF) in Ethiopia. In 2011, Oxfam America (OA) and the World Food Program (WFP) launched an innovative, integrated risk management program – the R4 Rural Resilience Initiative (R4) – to improve food and livelihoods security of SHF in Tigray, Ethiopia.
The R4 program integrates four risk management strategies: 1) improved management of natural resources and diversification of livelihoods (risk reduction), 2) weather index insurance (risk transfer), 3) microcredit (prudent risk taking), and 4) savings (risk reserves). This evaluation report presents the outcomes of the program in the northern state of Tigray.
The report reveals three compelling results. One, R4 is helping SHF, especially female-headed ones, to reduce food security impact of drought without degrading their productive assets. Two, R4 is enhancing food security through increased saving and borrowing, and income diversification. Three, evidence that R4 is improving agricultural production is, however, limited as the villages in two of the three R4 study districts suffered shocks to agricultural production in 2015, which did not affect the control villages. The latter outcome suggests that, in the absence of irrigation, drought poses a significant challenge for improving agricultural production in semi-arid regions.
Madajewicz, M., Tsegay, A. H., and Lee, R. (2017) “Managing risks in smallholder agriculture: The impacts of R4 on livelihoods in Tigray, Ethiopia from 2012 to 2016″. Oxfam External Evaluation Report on the R4 Rural Resilience Initiative (R4). Oxfam America: Washington DC, USA