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9.6.1 Food insecurity: the role of climate variability, change and other stressors

It has long been recognised that climate variability and change have an impact on food production, (e.g., Mendelsohn et al., 2000a, b; Devereux and Maxwell, 2001; Fischer et al., 2002; Kurukulasuriya and Rosenthal, 2003), although the extent and nature of this impact is as yet uncertain. Broadly speaking, food security is less seen in terms of sufficient global and national agricultural food production, and more in terms of livelihoods that are sufficient to provide enough food for individuals and households (Devereux and Maxwell, 2001; Devereux, 2003; Gregory et al., 2005). The key recognition in this shifting focus is that there are multiple factors, at all scales, that impact on an individual or household's ability to access sufficient food: these include household income, human health, government policy, conflict, globalisation, market failures, as well as environmental issues (Devereux and Maxwell, 2001; Marsland, 2004; Misselhorn, 2005).

Building on this recognition, three principal components of food security may be identified:

i. the availability of food (through the market and through own production);

ii. adequate purchasing and/or relational power to acquire or access food;

iii. the acquisition of sufficient nutrients from the available food, which is influenced by the ability to digest and absorb nutrients necessary for human health, access to safe drinking water, environmental hygiene and the nutritional content of the food itself (Swaminathan, 2000; Hugon and Nanterre 2003).

Climate variability, such as periods of drought and flood as well as longer-term change, may - either directly or indirectly -profoundly impact on all these three components in shaping food security (Ziervogel et al., 2006; Figure 9.6).

The potential impacts of climate change on food access in Figure 9.6 may, for example, be better understood in the light of changes in Africa's livelihoods landscape. A trajectory of diversification out of agricultural-based activities -'deagrarianisation' - has been found in the livelihoods of rural people in many parts of sub-Saharan Africa. Less reliance on food production as a primary source of people's food security runs counter to the assumption that people's food security in Africa derives solely (or even primarily) from their own

Figure 9.6. Linkages identified between climate change in Africa and three major components of food security. Adapted from inputs of (1) Swaminathan, 2000; Fischer et al., 2002; Turpie et al., 2002; Rosegrant and Cline, 2003; Slingo et al., 2005. (2) Fischer et al., 2002; Slingo et al., 2005. (3) Turpie et al., 2002; African Union, 2005. (4) Piot and Pinstrup-Anderson, 2002; Turpie et al., 2002; Mano et al., 2003; USAID, 2003; Gommes et al., 2004; van Lieshout et al., 2004. (5) Adger and Vincent, 2005; Brooks et al., 2005; Gregory et al., 2005; Thomas and Twyman, 2005; O'Brien, 2006. (6) Slingo et al., 2005. (7) Swaminathan, 2000; Schulze et al., 2001; Gommes et al., 2004.

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