Globally, the burden of food insecurity and malnutrition continues to affect the lives of billions of people. The Sub-Saharan African region is particularly off-track when it comes to reaching Sustainable Development Goal 2 that envisions to “end hunger, achieve food security and improved nutrition and promote sustainable agriculture” (FAO 2019). Food insecurity is an important issue because it has significant consequences for individuals, families, and communities. Food insecurity can also have long-term effects on education, employment, and economic growth. In addition, it is often linked to poverty, which can exacerbate existing social and economic inequalities. Addressing food insecurity is critical for ensuring the health and well-being of populations, promoting economic development, and achieving social equity. Therefore, the goal is to map out risk patterns for food insecurity, understand the links between food insecurity and mental health and to evaluate sources of resilience:
Paper 1: Persistent effects of villagization? Exploring the long-term effect of Tanzania’s resettlement program on agriculture and food insecurity
Government policies like collectivization and resettlement can have lasting impacts on development. Tanzania's villagization program in the 1970s radically changed the agricultural sector and the lives and livelihoods of millions of peasants. This study investigates the persistent effects of villagization on food and nutrition outcomes today, combining historical census data and household surveys to test the historical legacy hypothesis through a lens of path dependence.
Paper 2: Food insecurity deteriorates mental health during the Covid-19 pandemic in Africa: Causal evidence from an instrumental variable analysis
Food insecurity and mental health pose significant burdens for individuals and society alike. However, the scholarly contributions of each field have exhibited limited overlap so far. Leveraging an instrumental variable approach enables us to draw inferences about the causal link between food insecurity and debilitating levels of anxiety, yielding compelling evidence that food insecurity constitutes a crucial determinant of mental health outcomes in Africa amidst the COVID-19 pandemic.
Paper 3: Quantifying Tanzanian households’ resilience to food insecurity
Resilience, a widely discussed concept in academia and policymaking, lacks a broadly agreed-upon measurement method. This study uses an innovative asymmetric mean reversion method (Zaharia et al. 2021) to quantify resilience to food insecurity and applies it to individual and household data from Tanzania. It also employs a variance decomposition method (Sterck 2019) to measure the economic importance of sources of resilience. Given the increasing exposure to shocks, it is vital to understand the characteristics and strategies that enable risk management while safeguarding future well-being.