Household Coping Options in Hausaland, West Africa

Response to food shortage 1973-74, Kaita, Hausaland, by class: percentage of total households. Sample sizes were: high income, 56; middle income, 75 (a 30 percent sample of all middle income households); and low income, 93. Adapted from Watts, 1983.

Who Wins, Who Loses?

During times of food insecurity, middle- and upper-income economic groups are able to acquire goods, livestock, labor, and even land at firesale prices, thereby buffering their own household vulnerability to famine. Poor households are clearly the losers.

The germane question to be asked at this juncture concerns the effects of international food aid. While food aid disbursements save lives in the short term, what will be the long-term impact of undercutting this indigeenous exchange of wealth? Will middle-income households be able to withstand the rigors of a multiyear drought, or will donors find themselves locked into a seemingly perpetual cycle of giving, only to find matters slowly deteriorating over time?

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Watts, M., 1983. Silent Violence: Food, Famine and Peasantry in Northern Nigeria. Berkeley: University of California Press, 687 pp.

The correct citation for this page is:
Milich, L., 1997. Hausa Coping Options.

The Table of Contents of my work on Sahelian food security is available.

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This site last updated July 14, 1997.