Assessment of a Food for Work Program and the Drought Survival Needs of Ethiopian Communities in the Northern Tigray Region



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The highland Tigray region of Northern Ethiopia has historically suffered significantly from drought shock events. These events, coupled with a high poverty rate- have left a severe impact on the agricultural output and community survival of the region. Several development interventions have been implemented in Ethiopia to address the effects of drought and poverty, the largest being the recent Food for Work Productive Safety Net Programme (PSNP). The purpose of this study was to assess the food security and drought survival needs of Ethiopian communities, more specifically, communities in the Northern Tigray Region. The main research questions were: (a) what are major themes from the permanent literature on the PSNP's management policies' impact at the beneficiary level; and (b) what are common needs of drought prone villages in the Tigray Region of Northern Ethiopia?

Research Question (a) was approached through content analysis of six purposely chosen peer reviewed journal articles related to the implementation of the first five years of the PSNP. Data was analyzed through the constant comparative method and two major themes emerged: Targeting Policy, and Transfer Policy.

To address Research Question (b), the researcher traveled to four drought prone villages in the Tigray Region and facilitated a combination of Participatory Rural Appraisal and Rapid Rural Appraisal techniques to assess community-level needs. Interviews with Non-Governmental Agency employees, Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development employees, and University faculty provided institutional perspective to the research question. Data was analyzed using the constant comparative method and inductively formed into 11 themes, housed in three sectors: Economic Diversification, Environmental Management, and Social Coping Mechanisms.

The results of this study concurred with food security literature; namely that mechanisms for selecting intervention beneficiaries (i.e., targeting policy) and the process for distributing benefits (i.e., transfer policy) are practical concerns at the village level in Ethiopia. Analysis of participatory data formed a framework of community drought survival needs in the context of the Tigray Region. Asset building, water management, and human capacity are example needs which emerged from this study and should be addressed for the long term improvement of Ethiopia's resilience to drought shock events.