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Climate Change, Climate Change Adaptation and Food Security in Sub-Saharan Africa: An Econometric Analysis

Over the last decade, I have had research collaborations with the World Bank, International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI), and the Swedish International Development Agency (Sida) on household level econometric data analysis on issues related to poverty, land, climate change and smaller holder food production in Sub-Saharan Africa. More recently, I was involved in one of the largest climate change projects in Sub-Saharan Africa led by IFPRI under the title “Food and Water Security under Global Change: Developing Adaptive Capacity with A Focus on Rural Africa”1. IFPRI is a Washington based and leading Think Thank on Global Food Policy.

At the core of the ongoing debate regarding the implications of climate change in sub-Saharan Africa, there is the issue of food security. In this part of Africa, millions of small-scale subsistence farmers, generally with less than one hectare of land, produce food crops in extremely challenging conditions. The production environment is characterized by a joint combination of low land productivity and harsh weather conditions (e.g., high average temperature, scarce and erratic rainfall). These result in very low yields and food insecurity. This project was designed to identify appropriate and effective climate change adaptation strategies by thoroughly assessing small holders’ perceptions on climate change and the drivers of adaptation strategies and analyzing the potential impact of climate change on household vulnerability and food production.

Using a rich household and farm specific data, and in collaboration with colleagues and co-authors at IFPRI, London School of Economics and others, I have conducted a series of state-of-the-art econometric analysis on the aforementioned issues. Among others, the econometric models I used (that we shall also discuss in our Econ 623 online class) include Ordinary Least Square (OLS), Simple Probit, Multinomial Logit, Instrumental Variable Regression Models , Two and Three Stages Least Squares, Generalized Method of Moments (GMM), and Endogenous Switching Regression Model. As we shall discuss in Econ 623 online class, the use of a simple OLS regression model could lead to biased estimate and misleading policy conclusions as serious econometric issues of endogenity, selection bias, and unobserved heterogeneities are left untreated. Thus, we used other alternative econometric model to address these problems and as robustness checks.

Among others, our study indicates that access to formal and informal information sources has a lot to do with individual smaller holders’ actions on climate change adaptations, and taking climate adaptation measures (such as putting soil and water conservation measures on their plots) could not only avert the vagaries of climate change, but it is an opportunity to increase food production and thereby food security by up to 35% in smallholder farming in Sub-Saharan Africa. The findings of these studies are published in the following highly rated peer reviewed scientific journals2:

  • Climate Change Economics, volume 3, issue 2, year 2012.
  • Environmental and Resource Economics, volume 52, issue 1, pages 4575-478, year 2011.
  • American Journal of Agricultural Economics, volume 93, issue 3, pages 825-842, year 2011.
  • Agricultural Economics, volume 19, issue 2, pages 248-255, year 2009.

We shall use these published articles to support our econometric discussion in Econ 623 online class. Although I used the econometric models in the context of climate change studies, they have wider applications in other fields of economics and other disciplines including labor economics, financial economics, international studies, political science study etc. The dataset that we shall use in Econ623 online class will encompass various interests.

1 More details on this project can be found at http://www.ifpri.org.

2 More recently, I have used these econometric results as one input in to calibrate a cost-benefit analysis that I was involved to assess the financial feasibility of a large soil and water conservation project that the World Bank is planning to implement in 2014 at the magnitude of more than $35 million U.S. dollars in 45 watersheds in Ethiopian highlands.

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