Climatic conditions and household food security: Evidence from Tanzania

Heather Randell, Clark Gray, Elizabeth H. Shayo

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


Food security and adequate nutrition are critical for achieving progress toward sustainable development. Two billion people worldwide experience moderate to severe food insecurity, and rates of hunger have increased over the past several years after declining steadily for decades. The FAO attributes this increase in large part to climate change, though empirical evidence on the relationship between climatic conditions and food security remains limited. We examine this question by linking nationally representative longitudinal data from four rounds of the Tanzania National Panel Survey to high-resolution gridded climate data. We then estimate a set of fixed effects regression models to understand the linkages between recent rainy season precipitation and temperature and two indicators of household food security: Food Consumption Score (FCS) and reduced Coping Strategies Index (rCSI). We find that low rainfall—particularly dry and cool conditions—is negatively associated with food security. Moving from a typical rainfall year to a particularly dry one increases the risk of being food insecure on both measures simultaneously by 13 percentage points. This suggests that a lack of rainfall impedes households’ ability to access food, likely through reduced agricultural production and increased food prices, leading to lower dietary diversity and food shortages. Vulnerability is higher among households with fewer working age members, suggesting that households with a greater supply of labor can better withstand droughts. As climate change alters precipitation and temperature patterns over the coming decades, policies to increase resilience will be critical for improving food security, particularly among populations heavily reliant on agriculture.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number102362
JournalFood Policy
StatePublished - Oct 2022
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
An earlier version of this paper was presented at the 2020 Annual Meeting of the Association for Public Policy Analysis and Management and the 2022 Annual Meeting of the Population Association of America, where the authors received constructive feedback from Brian Holzman and Esteban Quiñones, respectively. We are greatly appreciative of Philip McDaniel for preparing the climate data. This study was supported by a grant from the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD) (1R03HD104843-01A1). We recognize infrastructure funding from the Pennsylvania State University Population Research Institute (PRI). PRI is supported by a grant from NICHD (P2CHD041025).

Publisher Copyright:
© 2022 Elsevier Ltd


  • Climate change
  • Drought
  • Food security
  • Tanzania

PubMed: MeSH publication types

  • Journal Article


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