Recurring food crises endanger the livelihoods of millions of households in developing countries around the globe. Owing to the importance of this issue, we explored recent changes in food security between the years 2004 and 2010 in a rural district in Northeastern South Africa. Our study window spans the time of the 2008 global food crisis and allows the investigation of its impacts on rural South African populations. Grounded in the sustainable livelihood framework, we examined differences in food security trajectories among vulnerable sub populations. A unique panel data set of 8,147 households, provided by the Agincourt Health and Demographic Surveillance System (Agincourt HDSS), allowed us to employ a longitudinal multilevel modeling approach to estimate adjusted growth curves for the differential changes in food security across time. We observed an overall improvement in food security that leveled off after 2008, most likely resulting from the global food crisis. In addition, we discovered significant differences in food security trajectories for various sub populations. For example, female-headed households and those living in areas with better access to natural resources differentially improved their food security situation, compared to male-headed households and those households with lower levels of natural resource access. However, former Mozambican refugees witnessed a decline in food security. Therefore, poverty alleviation programs for the Agincourt region should work to improve the food security of vulnerable households, such as former Mozambican refugees.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
Acknowledgments We gratefully acknowledge that this project was made possible through the generous funding from the University of Colorado at Boulder, Department of Sociology and the University of Colorado, Institute of Behavioral Sciences, African Population Studies Program. We use data provided by the Agincourt Health and Demographic Surveillance System (Agincourt HDSS), managed by the Rural Public Health and Health Transitions Research Unit of the South African Medical Research Council (MRC) and the University of Witwatersrand (Wits). This work was indirectly supported by the Wellcome Trust (grant No. 085477/Z/08/Z and grant No. 069683/Z/02/Z) through its support of the Agincourt HDSS. We thank Jill Williams for administrative support, Casey Blalock for his help with data extraction, and Elisabeth Root for insightful comments and suggestions on earlier drafts of this manuscript. We express our gratitude to Barend Erasmus for making the NDVI grids available. We also express our thanks to Jamie Jones for her careful editing and helpful suggestions. Special thanks to the anonymous reviewers and journal editors for insightful comments on earlier drafts of this manuscript.
- Food security
- Global food crisis
- Growth curve models
- Natural resources
- South Africa