Assessing the implications of rural livelihood diversification on food security around the protected area of Kibale National Park in Western Uganda
Opito, Emmanuel Abwa
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Food security is probably the most important development challenge and survival concern for humankind. Despite gradual economic growth in Uganda, Western Uganda has continued to register food insecurity concerns and little has been done in documenting this situation around protected areas there in. This study focuses on characterizing food security situation, determining the nature of livelihood diversification and assessing the relative importance of livelihood diversification in influencing food security of households around Kibale National Park (KNP). Purposive and random sampling methods helped obtain primary data from 184 households from three sample villages within 15Km of park boundary using questionnaires and observation. The food (in)security status of households was measured with a suite of indicators, nature of livelihood diversification assessed using the Simpson index of diversity (SID) while Pearson correlation coefficient and multivariate analysis of covariance evaluated the relative importance of livelihood diversification on food security of the households. The results revealed according to the objectives that: i) all households around KNP had sufficient calorie consumption, 5% with low dietary diversity, 50% had high food expenditure share whereas 63% of them had a poor quality diet dominated by staples; ii) farming was the mainstay (72%) of households around KNP and majority (48%) of households registered low livelihood diversification, and iii) Pearson correlation revealed a positive and significant importance of extent of livelihood diversification on the food expenditure share of these households. The study concludes that; i) majority of households despite having adequate calorie consumption have a poor quality diet highly comprising staples and a very high food expenditure share implying high vulnerability to food insecurity, ii) crop farming is the major livelihood activity for households around KNP and majority of the households registered a low extent of livelihood diversification and iii) the extent to which a household around KNP diversifies its livelihoods was found to positively and inversely influence their food expenditure share. Development actors should therefore; i) adopt measures geared towards increasing production of or capacity to acquire non-staple foods ii) increase investment in farming and iii) increase skilling of the population to help increase the number of working household members.