Do Common-Pool Resources Help Insure Household Food Security from Climate Shocks?
AbstractCommon-pool resources (CPRs) play an important role in rural lives of many developing
countries. CPRs are a source of both income and vital consumables including food, water, fuel,
fodder, and medicine. CPRs may also work as a buffer against income and weather shocks
(Wunder et al., 2014). Little quantitative work explores the effect of CPRs on household food
security. In this paper, we ask whether and how access to CPRs affect household food security?
Further, we ask whether they help households smooth food security in the face of climate shocks.
We use primary household-level data on 1000 households from the state of Bihar in India
and 500 households from Zambia. In both regions, we have three years of data from shortly after
harvest and from the lean season between harvests. Both regions experienced climate shocks
and pest outbreaks during this time, which allows us to estimate whether CPRs help households
stabilize their food consumption when their food production and income is negatively affected.
We design a detailed food-specific module to collect data on household’s food
consumption and food source and detailed questions about access to forest, open space, and
waterbodies. We estimate the impact of the access to CPR interacted with the exogenous climate
shock variable on different measurements of food security. We also measure the change in
dietary diversity over three years as a function of access to CPRs and explore the implications of
seasonal variations. Further, we move to the mechanisms that explain the heterogeneity in
dependence on CPRs. Our preliminary empirical results suggest that access to CPR significantly
improves the welfare of households. This result is particularly true for the lean season when
households depend on CPR to smooth their consumption.