Livehoods Strategies and Household Resilience to Food Insecurity: an Empirical Analysis to Kenya

The way a household copes with and withstands economic shocks depends on the options available, in terms of capabilities, assets (including both material and social resources) and activities. A livelihood strategy is the way those options are arranged and selected. Comprehending the driving factors of each livelihood strategy is crucial to improve the response mechanisms related to poverty and food security in developing countries. This paper aims to measure empirically the outcomes of different livelihoods strategies in terms of household resilience to food insecurity in the specific context of Kenyan households.
Kenyan households are classified according to their own livelihood strategies by using the Ward’s cluster analysis technique on data from the Kenya Integrated Household Budget Survey 2005-06. The information on shares of income sources, productive assets and occupational activities have been used to allow the data to identify the most meaningful and homogeneous groupings of Kenyan households in terms of livelihood strategies: pastoralist, agro-pastoralist, smallholder farmers, largeholder farmers, entrepreneurs and wage-employees.
In order to understand the key determinants of each livelihood strategy and compare different livelihood strategies, we used and updated the resilience analysis framework developed by Alinovi et al. (2008). Comparing resilience by livelihood clusters in the eight provinces of Kenya shows there are significant differences across provinces and among clusters. Nairobi is by far the most resilient province and Eastern province the least one. Moreover, the large-holder farmers’ cluster is the most resilient, whilst the pastoralist is the least resilient.
However, the determinants of resilience are different for each livelihood group. Those differences are relevant in terms of policy implications, considering the differences between the ultimate determinants of each component. In terms of access to basic services, for example, access to credit is much more relevant to pastoralists and large-holders than it is to others. Access to water is more relevant to both farmer groups and agro-pastoralists, while access to electricity and telephone networks is relevant to entrepreneurs and wage-employees. The social safety-nets (transfers per capita) for wage-employees are twice those of other groups: this is related to urban poverty, where the lack of other assets (land, livestock, etc.) dramatically reduces the urban poor coping capacity.