Journal Article

Seasonal Food Crises and Social Protection in Africa

Published on 1 February 2010

Seasonality has always been an important contributor to hunger and poverty in rural Africa, but it has consistently received inadequate analytical and policy attention.

Not only does seasonality generate short-term hunger and seasonal food crises, it is also responsible for various ‘poverty ratchets’ that can have irreversible long-term consequences for household well-being and for productive capacity in rural areas. Because seasonality is predictable and repetitive, rural households and communities have developed complex behavioural responses to buffer its worst effects. But since many ‘coping strategies’ involve the transfer of assets (including labour) from poor to richer households at less than full value, seasonality is a polarising mechanism that is economically and socially stratifying. In such contexts, safety nets or social protection mechanisms are needed, to correct or compensate for market failures until appropriate forms of economic development makes these interventions redundant.


Stephen Devereux

Research Fellow

Publication details

published by
Devereux, S.


About this publication

Programmes and centres
Centre for Social Protection

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