Influence of weather shocks and coping strategies on food consumption: Evidence from rural Niger

Jianfeng Gao & Bradford F. Mills

Weather is an important determinant of household well-being in rural Sub-Saharan Africa. This paper explores the relationship between novel measures of cropping-season weather conditions and household food consumption in rural Niger, and how household coping mechanisms mediate that relationship. We employ a panel logit model to show that the normalised difference vegetation index (NDVI) and extreme heat degree day (EHDD) measures are associated with subjective self-reporting of drought in a panel dataset of 2 264 households. We then show, with a household fixed-effects panel model, that low NDVI and high EHDD measures are associated with significant decreases in household per capita food consumption. Household coping strategies, such as the disbursement of savings, temporary migration of a family member, and the adoption of heat-resistant agricultural technologies, are found to partially mitigate, but not fully alleviate, the negative effects of weather shocks on consumption. More comprehensive coping mechanisms are needed to improve household resilience to weather shocks.