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Seasonality, rural livelihoods and development

Seasonality, rural livelihoods and development

By Stephen Devereux, Rachel Sabates-Wheeler, Richard Longhurst
Published by Routledge
Website: www.routledge.com
2011, 334pp, ISBN 978 1 84971 325 2 (Pb), £29.99

Seasonal patterns in poverty, hunger and disease in rural tropical areas have been recognised for decades but seasonality continues to be neglected in development policy. Seasonality, rural livelihoods and development is the first systematic study of seasonality for over 20 years and this collection of papers from the 'Seasonality Revisited' conference, hosted by the DFID-funded Future Agricultures Consortium at IDS in 2009, aims to revive policy interest in seasonality as a source of food insecurity and rural poverty. Contributions confirm that poverty rates vary depending on the time of year that poverty is assessed, which is rarely acknowledged in poverty survey reports. Also, irrigation is a powerful intervention to smooth food production and consumption across seasons, and seasonality continues to be a driver of malnutrition, morbidity and mortality in tropical countries across the world.

This book identifies three drivers of 'adverse seasonality' that have emerged since the 1980s. First, climate change might be causing the seasons to become more erratic and less favourable to farming families. Second, HIV and AIDS have undermined household and community coping capacity, and several mutually reinforcing negative interactions between AIDS and seasonality have been identified. Third, economic liberalisation programmes removed several policy measures that aimed to protect farmers and consumers against damaging seasonality, such as strategic grain reserve management, input subsidies and pan-seasonal food pricing; the new social protection agenda only partially addresses this through targeted social transfers and public works programmes. One positive development in recent years is the design of innovative methodologies for monitoring and measuring seasonality, for more effective and better timed responses.

The book's key policy conclusions are addressed to governments and development partners. (1) Poverty statistics should reflect seasonal variation. (2) Standardised, validated methods for monitoring seasonal food insecurity should be incorporated into food security monitoring systems. (3) Programming for food security must allow for seasonality, e.g. cash transfers in rural areas should be seasonally calibrated, to maintain constant access to food through the year, and agricultural interventions should aim not only to raise total food production, but to stabilise seasonal consumption.

Date published: March 2012


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