An assessment of food security status and factors influencing the choice of food insecurity coping mechanisms in Rwanda: the case of Gisagara district
Despite the remarkable progress in term of economic growth and poverty reduction made in Rwanda since the tragedy of the 1994 genocide, more than 80 percent of its rural population is still relying on subsistence agriculture practiced on small land, and this makes it difficult for them to overcome the problem of food insecurity. The purpose of this study was to analyze food security status and to determine households‘ food insecurity coping mechanisms as well as the factors influencing the choice of food insecurity coping mechanisms. A sample of 234 households was selected based on systematic sampling procedure in 13 sectors of Gisagara District, the study area. The first objective was addressed by using Food Consumption Score. The results from this proxy show that 12.5 percent of households in the study area had low food consumption score (food insecure) while 33.4 percent have borderline food consumption score (moderately food insecure) and 51 percent of households were found to have acceptable food consumption score (food secure). In terms of food insecurity coping mechanisms adopted by households, the results show that casual labour based coping mechanism, assets based coping mechanism, borrowing based coping mechanism, assistance based coping mechanism and adjustment in food consumption based coping mechanism were the main coping mechanisms adopted by households. To determine the factors influencing the choice of those coping mechanisms, Multinomial Logit Regression Model (MNL) was used. Results from the estimation of the MNL model revealed that among eight variables included in the model, six were found to be significant, that is age, household size, land size, livestock ownership, cooperative membership and total annual income. The findings of this study show that vulnerability to food insecurity can be reduced by decreasing exposure to risks and shocks or by increasing the ability to cope with different shocks. Policy interventions need to complement the positive effects of the key findings of this study, key recommendations to enhance food security were suggested, namely promoting income-generating activities, enhancing the cooperatives‘ efficiency, creating employment opportunities and promoting the development of the livestock sector.