Food for Work Program and its Implications on Food Security: A Critical Review with a Practical Example from the Amhara Region, Ethiopia

Ashenafi Gedamu


A systematic evaluation of food-for-work (FFW) programs in Ethiopia is seriously lacking. Most of the few available reports indicate that these programs have reached very few achievements in terms of food security and reduction of poverty at large. As expressed by Holden et al. (2005), FFW programs are commonly aimed to produce or maintain potentially valuable public goods necessary to stimulate productivity and thus income growth. Natural resources management, like rural road construction, erosion control and afforestation of degraded lands can be mentioned as valuable measures which could stimulate productivity and agricultural growth. The poverty reduction and food security impact of food or cash for work activities are larger if they offer not only seasonal job opportunities to the rural community but also long term employment possibilities. This is more likely if the projects are regionally dispersed and combined with basic education. In the Ethiopian context, it was always questionable if the continuous boom in food aid (regardless of cash or food for work purposes) was the solution for the long standing food insecurity and poverty crises in the country. The study discusses the efficiency of FFW programs that aimed to reduce rural poverty and ensure food security on the one hand, and the impact of the food aid on resource and time allocation of the participating households for own food production on the other. The study is based on a field research conducted at a FFW program project, in the Amhara region, Ethiopia run by the German Agency for Technical Cooperation (GTZ) with the view of improving food security in the Amhara region, Ethiopia. A household theoretical model is used to analyze the sample data, whether FFW program may indeed reduce household food insecurity and/or has some crowding-out effects on labour allocation of participating households for own field production.


Ethiopia; Amhara; GTZ; food for work program; poverty; food security; malnutrition

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