Non-Farm and Off-Farm Activities in Achieving Livelihood Security in the Amhara Region: Case Study of Lay Gayint District
In areas where agricultural activities are highly limited because of unpredictable rainfall, land degradation and recurrent drought, livelihood diversification can increase households’ income and food security. However, a range of factors from physical environmental circumstances to policy and institutions related issues determine households’ participation in non/off-farm activities in the study area. The general objective of the study was to identify factors that determine households’ participation in non/off-farm activities in drought- prone areas of the Amhara Region using Lay Gayint district as a case study site. Questionnaire survey, in-depth interview and focus group discussions were the major data collection techniques. Both qualitative and quantitative research methods were used for data analysis and the later included descriptive statistics and regression modeling. A major finding is that despite the low level of productivity related to local environmental constraints, rural livelihoods remain undiversified with small-scale rain-fed agriculture providing the primary source of livelihood for the large majority of sample households. Only small percentage of respondents (25%) participated in some form of non-farm/off-farm activities, with little contributions to their sources of income. The study found out that non/off-farm activities that meet the shortfall of consumption needs such as selling charcoal and fuel wood, causal labor and out migration were the major sources of income for the poor and vulnerable households. The study forwarded that improving livelihood security of rural households in the study area requires integrated development interventions aimed at improved natural resources management and livelihood diversification including interventions in the area of non-farm employment opportunities and skill trainings at household level.