Confronting poverty traps, stimulating development

Risk, Policy and Vulnerability (RPV) Program research found that selling livestock was the most frequently reported coping strategy for smallholders in rural Uganda following weather disasters.

Poverty traps © K. Platzer | IIASA

Poverty traps

RPV staff collaborated with the London School of Economics on examining the vulnerability to weather disasters in rural Uganda based on a survey - one of the largest of its kind - containing over 3,000 observations collected by local knowledge workers of the Grameen Foundation using smartphone technology [1]. 

The econometric analysis revealed a rich set of determinants of different subsets of coping strategies. The most frequently reported choice was to sell livestock, which is contrary to conventional wisdom. Asset-based theories would predict more reliance on strategies like eating and spending less today in order to avoid disposal of productive assets. It may well be that livestock is held as a form of "liquid" savings to, among other things, help people bounce back from a weather disaster.  

Researchers did, however, find that other strategies that might undermine future prospects were avoided, such as selling land or the home and disrupting the children’s education.

Perhaps most notably, households with a more educated head were much less likely to choose coping strategies involving taking their own children out of education.


[1] Helgeson JF, Dietz S, Hochrainer-Stigler S. (2013) Vulnerability to Weather Disasters:The Choice of Coping Strategies in Rural Uganda. Ecology and Society 18(2)2.


London School of Economics, UK.

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Last edited: 22 May 2014


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