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Background: The role of wild foods in combating problems of food shortage is paramount. However, existing approaches to combat food insecurity shock have generally focused on reducing vulnerability via increasing productivity of domesticated foods. In contrast, approaches that enhance resilience mainly through wild food sources have been less focused. This study examined the contribution of wild foods to household resilience to food insecurity in the green famine belt of Ethiopia. Methods: A cross-sectional survey of 220 households was conducted using a structured questionnaire, key informant interviews, and semi-participant observations. Factor analysis was run using SPSS to analyze data. Correlation analysis was used to examine the direction and strength of association between wild foods and the income and food access (IFA), a latent proxy indicator of resilience. Cross-tabulation was also run to determine the proportion of households in each ethno-culture group under each resilience category. Results: The mean amount of wild foods obtained by households was 156.61 kg per household per annum. This was about 5 % and 9 % of, gross and, net food available from all sources respectively. Wild foods contributed well to household resilience as the factor loading (Factor2 = 0.467) was large enough and were significantly correlated with IFA (r = 0.174). Wild vegetables were the most collected and consumed type of wild foods constituting 52.4 % of total amount of wild foods. The total amount of wild foods was smaller than that of domesticated sources of food. The majority of households (38.6 %) reported "reduced source of wild foods" as a reason for this. Smaller proportion of the indigenous (11.2 %) than the non-indigenous (34.1 %) ethno-culture group reported one or more reasons for their lower level of dependence on wild foods. Conclusion: From the study we concluded that wild foods had important contribution to households' resilience to food shortages and are likely to continue to contribute in the future, this being more to indigenous than non-indigenous ethno-culture group. Therefore, a resilience building policy that incorporates wild foods should be adopted, and research that aims at exploring their current status and future prospect are urgently required. Keywords: Wild food, Forest, Contribution to resilience, Food-Insecurity, Green famine belt, Ethiopia * Correspondence: firstname.lastname@example.org Addis Ababa University, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia © 2015 Guyu and Muluneh. Open Access This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons license, and indicate if changes were made. Guyu and Muluneh Forest Ecosystems (2015) 2:34 Page 2 of 12 Background of behavioral shifts into which households flip when There has been a strong tie between forest and human exposed to the food insecurity shock. In this study, survival since time immemorial, when homo-sapiens therefore, household resilience to seasonal food inse- began to emerge on the planet earth. Forests provide curity is measured as the amount of this shock both direct uses (e.g. supplying fuel wood, timber, fibers, absorbed before flipping into the behavior regime food, and medicine) and indirect uses (e.g. balancing measured in terms of eight latent variables. One of CO concentration, and protecting erosion) to human these latent dimensions used for determining the con- beings. More specifically, forests are sources of liveli- tribution of wild foods to household resilience is the hoods for people. Gathering and hunting wild foods are income and food access (IFA) variable measured as a one among the many livelihood activities provided by factor solution of seven observable variables (Fig. 2). forests. In this regard, policy measures that aim at ensur- The phrase “wild foods” refers to all plant and ani- ing, sustainable supply of wild foods and, sustainability mal resources that are not domesticated but gathered of forest resources often overlap. In other words, a policy andhuntedfrom forests andbush-landsfor thepur- that targets at development of wild foods has direct con- pose of human consumption (Bell 1995). This paper tribution to sustainability of forest ecosystem. extended this definition to include wild edible fish The economic and medicinal uses of wild foods to from the rivers. Wilderness can however be seen as a human beings have been discussed in the literature. continuum ranging from an entirely ‘wild’ to ‘semi- Wild foods constitute an important part of global and domesticated’ food (Bharucha and Pretty 2010). In household food baskets (Bharucha and Pretty 2010). this paper, we included only purely wild plants and Nevertheless, their types and extent of use vary from animals but excluded semi-wild foods from the study. place to place and time to time. Wild foods are per- Food security exists when all people, at all times, ceived by the Lebanese to have practical medicinal have physical and economic access to sufficient, safe values that cure a number of diseases including dia- and nutritious food to meet their dietary needs and betes, pains in the digestive and urinary tract, anemia, food preferences for an active and healthy life (Canali and cancer (Batal et al. 2007). Spirulina (i.e. Blue-green and Slaviero 2010). In this paper, the sources of food algae) has been collected and consumed as supplemen- from which food security are ensured include own tary to food obtained from cultivated and domesticated production, purchase, social and cultural networks, sources in some countries such as Chad and China in wild foods, and food aids (Guyu 2015). Famine is the addition to using as a source of income by many concept intimately related with food insecurity. It is households (Food and Agricultural Organization, FAO often defined as a discrete event that is triggered by 2008). In South Africa, wild vegetables play important food shortages or starvation and results in a sudden role in combating the challenges of food insecurity flare-up of mass deaths (Devereux 2000). But, this (Mavengahama et al. 2013). Rural people of Ethiopia definition of famine has been criticized because have deep knowledge about wild foods and their con- deaths during famines are more related to epidemic sumption both as a regular meal during normal times diseases than starvation. As a result, famines can be and as a famine food (Dechassa and Guinand 2000; divided into three: minor famines causing hunger, se- Debela et al. 2011). They provide irreplaceable nutri- vere famines causing destitution, and catastrophic tional contents and economic values to people who famines resulting in mass deaths (De Waal 1989 cited depend on them (Illgner and Nel 2000; Kajembe et al. in Devereux 2000). The famine condition in our study 2000; Agea et al. 2011). Especially, the role of wild area, also known as green famine belt (Guyu 2015), edible plants (WEPs) as supplementary to nutritional could be categorized under the minor and severe cat- requirements, coping food shortages and, emergency egories that are caused by starvation, breakout of hu- (famine) food is clearly shown in Assegid and Tesfaye man and livestock diseases and deaths, destruction of (2011). In the western part of Ethiopia, specifically in livelihood bases, household destitution and dissolution Benishangul-gumuz region (BGR), households (mainly of family. The authors also believe that “famine that the indigenous ones) were found to resort to depend kills” (although not resulting in mass death) even oc- on wild foods as a coping mechanism to overcome curs in the green famine belt although it requires fur- extremely severe poverty and food insecurity condi- ther empirical investigation. Therefore, green famine tions (Guyu 2012). Coping mechanisms are one of is defined as food insecurity conditions that occur the defining components of household resilience be- under the shadow of favorable natural conditions cause having more coping strategies means having such as climate (sufficient rainfall, almost absence of more probability of mitigating food insecurity (Alinovi drought, and vast fertile agricultural lands), low popu- et al. 2008). In this regard, coping via the use of wild lation pressure, and less resource degradation (Guyu foods can be seen as one of the defining components 2015; Ferede and Muluneh 2015). Thus, in this paper Guyu and Muluneh Forest Ecosystems (2015) 2:34 Page 3 of 12 seasonal food insecurity is regarded as a proxy indica- Due to the fact that food system is a cultural/social- tor of green famine. ecological system, it is not a fixed system for which Vulnerability approach is the conventional method of there is equilibrium steady state and for which resili- understanding the nature of household food insecurity ence can assume efficiency, predictability and con- and famine. However, it has been overtaken by resilience stancy. Such a system is characterized by persistency, approach (RA) since the seminal work of Alinovi et al. change and unpredictability (Alinovi et al. 2008). Fol- (2008). Following the footsteps of these authors, we also lowing this theory, some researchers have applied the applied RA for analyzing the contribution of wild foods ecological definition of resilience to analyze household to household resilience to food insecurity. This approach resilience to food insecurity (Alinovi et al. 2009; Ciani is founded on two broader worldviews: ecological and 2012; Ferede and Muluneh 2015). In this paper too, engineering. Both approaches deal with aspects of stabil- we applied the ecological definition of resilience. ity of equilibria but provide alternative measures of a In Ethiopia interventions by researchers, policymakers system’s ability to maintain its functions following dis- and humanitarian actors have generally focused on culti- turbance (Holling 1996; Alinovi et al. 2009; Sakurai et al. vated and domesticated sources of food. Particularly, 2012). In both varieties of resilience, vulnerability is these actors have never considered wild foods’ contribu- regarded as the flip side of resilience (Alinovi et al. 2008) tion to household resilience. Researchers have largely ex- because when a system gradually loses its resilience it plored and documented rich indigenous knowledge of becomes more and more vulnerable to changes. The ethnobotanical and medicinal values of forest resources difference between them lies on the paradox between in general and wild foods in particular (Dechassa and efficiency and persistency, constancy and change, or Guinand 2000; Ermias et al. 2011; Teklehaymanot and predictability and unpredictability (Holling 1996). Mirutse 2010). Research concerning socio-economic, The engineering definition of resilience that resembles cultural, traditional and nutritional/food aspects of wild the engineer’s desire for “fail-safe” design focuses on the foods (especially WEPs), still lacks adequate attention efficiency and assumes constancy and predictability of a (Dechassa and Guinand 2000). Policymakers have almost system’s properties (King 2008). It can therefore be de- entirely aimed at boosting the productivity of cultivated fined as the speed of return to the steady state following foods. Humanitarian actors have attempted to improve a perturbation perceiving a system as existing close to a household access to cultivated food sources through dif- stable and a near equilibrium steady state (Sakurai et al. ferent mechanisms including relief aids. However, such a 2012). As a result, resilience is measured as the system’s dependence on food from domesticated sources alone resistance to disturbance and speed of return to the may not address the challenges of food insecurity shocks equilibrium. Thus, an increased resilience implies the and enhance the resilience of rural households. This system’s ability to bounce back faster after stress, endur- paper examined the contribution of wild foods to ing greater stress, and being disturbed less by a given household resilience to food insecurity with the follow- amount of a stress (Martin-Breen and Anderies 2011). ing purposes. First, the findings can be used by policy- Engineering resilience is therefore grounded more of makers to consider wild foods when planning and within the theory of positivist tradition, both epistemo- implementing resilience building programmes as wild logically and ontologically (King 2008). foods’ development policy involves, per see, strategies The ecological resilience focuses on the persistency, that aim at protecting environmental degradation due change and unpredictability, the core idea celebrated by to deforestation. Second, the study can contribute to biologists with an evolutionary perspective and by those the ongoing academic and policy discourses held re- who search for “safe-fail” designs (Holling 1996). It is a garding household resilience to food insecurity and the dynamic model that focuses on persistence despite role of forests in mitigating food shortages. changes in, and unpredictability of, a system’s properties (King 2008). It assumes multiple stability domains and is Methods measured by the magnitude of disturbance that can be Study area absorbed before instabilities flip into another regime of The study was conducted in the green famine belt of behavior (Sakurai et al. 2012). In other words, ecological Ethiopia taking Belo-jiganfoy district as a case study resilience is the measure of the ability of the system to area. The district is located in southern most part of absorb changes of state variables, driving variables, and BGR in western Ethiopia (Fig. 1). It generally represents parameters (Holling 1973). The ecological resilience the green famine belt in terms of environmental and model is therefore grounded in constructivist tradition, economic characteristics. both epistemologically and ontologically (King 2008). According to the 2012 projection (Federal Democratic This definition and model is appropriate for analyzing Republic of Ethiopia-Ethiopian Road Authority, FDRE- food system that considers households as its sub-system. ERA 2008), the district consisted of a total population of Guyu and Muluneh Forest Ecosystems (2015) 2:34 Page 4 of 12 Fig. 1 Location of the study area at National, Regional and Zonal Settings 37471 forming 7347 households with average family size investments. Different types of fauna and flora are found of 5.1. The district has population density of 23persons/ in the forest, which provide different types of wild food for km . However, due to continuous in-and-out migration people living in and around it (Table 1). of the non-indigenous people, the population size of the district fluctuates from year to year. Berta, Gumuz, Sampling procedure and sample size Shinasha, Mao and Komo make up the indigenous A cross-sectional survey of 220 households was conducted ethno-culture group of BGR. The Oromo and Amahara during the last week of August 2013. The sample size for ethnic groups are the dominant non-indigenous ethnic the study was determined based on the formula suggested groups. With the exception of Shinasha and Komo, all by Krejcie & Morgan (1970) cited in Agea et al. (2011). ethnic groups mentioned above live in Belo-jiganfoy dis- According to this formula 366 households would be statis- trict. Economically, the people in the region and hence tically representative of the total population in our study in the district depend on agriculture. Forests are avail- area. But, considering the relative homogeneity of house- able better here than other parts (especially northern, holds within each ethno-culture group, the sample size eastern and central parts of Ethiopia) although declining was reduced to 220. The selection of sample households from time to time. As a result, they supply wild foods to followed both non-random and random techniques. First, household that depend on them in addition to cultivated 3 kebeles (the lowest administrative unit of Ethiopia that is and domesticated food sources. Malaria is the leading larger than a village but smaller than a zone, a zone in cause of human health problem while livestock sector is turn being such a unit lower than a region) out of 10 in threatened by several types of diseases. Poor road infra- the district were purposively selected based on their dis- structure and socioeconomic services are the main chal- tance from district center and road infrastructure. Accord- lenges to BGR in general and Belo-jiganfoy district in ingly, Senne, Say Dalecha and Soge kebeles were selected. particular (Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia- Second, based on information on the total number of Ethiopian Road Authority, FDRE-ERA 2008). households and ethno-cultures in each kebele, households The district is characterized by plain topography al- were stratified into two groups: the indigenous and the though certain mountainous features and river gorges non-indigenous. Third, the number of sample size in each exist with altitudes ranging between 1100 m and 1450 m kebele and ethno-culture group was determined through above mean sea level. Its climate shows a very hot temper- proportional allocation method. Finally, sample house- atures ranging from 20 – 25°c during rainy season while holds for interview were selected using simple random the minimum temperature varies from 12 – 20°c accord- technique (i.e. lottery method). ing to the relief and seasons (Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia-Ethiopian Road Authority, FDRE-ERA 2008). Data collection It has vast forest area although declining due to indiscrim- A questionnaire, key informant interviews, and semi- inate deforestation especially through the recent introduc- participant observations were employed to collect data. tion of land deals in the pretext of large scale agricultural A structured questionnaire was carefully designed and Guyu and Muluneh Forest Ecosystems (2015) 2:34 Page 5 of 12 Table 1 Partial list of WEPs, their family and local names and, edible parts in BGR Scientific name Family name Local name Edible part Acaci negrii Pic. Serm. Fabaceae Tedecha (Oromo) Bark Aframomum alboviolaceum (Ridl.) K. Schum Zingiberaceae Oula (Gumuz) Fruit Ampelocisssus bombycina-(Bak.) Planch. Vitaceae Astigena (Gumuz) Fruit Bedens Prestinaria (Sch.Bip.) Culfod Asteraceae Assegetsiya (Berta) Leaf Bridelia Scleroneura Muell. Arg. Euphorbiacea Haragjello (Berta) Fruit Crassocephalum rubens (juss.ex Jacq.) Asteraceae Shekaadona (Berta) Leaf Cymbopogon caesiu (Hook. & Arn.) Stapf Poaceae GnieeraWoni (Berta) Inflore Justicia ladanoides Lam. Acanthaceae Aelangiya (Gumuz) Leaf Leonotis nepetifolia (L.) R. Br. Lamiaceae Angesho (Berta) Nectar Ochna leucophloeos Hochst. ex A. Rich. Ochnaceae Anddha (Gumuz) Fruit Olea capensis subsp. macrocarpa (C.A.Wright.) Ve. Oleaceae Bulumtsee (Berta) Fruit Oxytenanthera abyssinica (A. Rich.) Munro. Poaceae Enta (Gumuz) Shoots Adapted from Ermias et al. 2011 (90–122), Wild Edible Plants in Ethiopia: A Review on their Potential to Combat Food Insecurity administered to respondents through oriented local contribution of wild foods to household resilience. enumerators and face-to-face techniques as most of For this purpose, statistical package for social sciences them were not able to read and write. Some house- (SPSS) version 19 was employed. RI was estimated holds who are able to read and write were given the using the above multivariate techniques based on a questionnaire to fill it themselves with some assist- number of observed variables iteratively as suggested ance from enumerators. The questionnaire was used by Alinovi et al. (2008). These techniques generated to collect data regarding the amount of food obtained eight latent dimensions, IFA indicator being one of from both agricultural produce, wild foods, perceived them. In fact, some of the observed variables, for factors affecting dependence on wild foods, and dif- example, Household Food Insecurity Access Scale ferent variables used to estimate household resilience. (HFIAS), Coping Strategies Index (CSI), kcal, and dietary Key informant interviews were held to secure infor- diversity scores (DDS) were determined through a mation about the types of wild foods, the local peo- complex procedure before running relevant multivari- ples’ dependence on them, and their economic and ate techniques. The models of multivariate analysis medicinal values. For this purpose, informants were were tested for their appropriateness before deciding selected from villages and offices of the districts’ to interpret the results. They were tested for sampling department of agriculture and food security. Semi- Adequacy, sphericity and problems of multicolliniarity participant observations had been conducted by the and singularity using Kaiser-Meyer-Olkin (KMO here- corresponding author of the paper in 2013 until the after), Bartlett's test of sphericity, and the value of de- households had begun to harvest and consume the terminant (R ) respectively. Based on the criteria immature crops such as maize. The objective was to suggested by Field (2005), all tests showed that the record and understand the types of wild foods and models were appropriate. That is, the sample from frequency of hunting and gathering them and to which data were collected was adequate (KMO = 0.631), understand which ethno-culture group was much en- the Bartlett's test of sphericity was significant (p <0.001), gaged in these activities. and there were no problems of both singularity in the R-matrix and multicollinearity (R = 0.221). As a rule Data analysis of thumb, the KMO statistics should be >0.50 for ad- Both quantitative and qualitative methods were used equate sample, Bartlett's test of sphericity that shows to analyze data in a mixed-methods fashion as this p < 0.001 shows significant level that in turn shows paradigm underpins the study. Accordingly, the ob- that there is no problem of identity matrix, R-matrix jective data from questionnaire were first analyzed (R ≥ 0.9) shows problem of singularity, and for multi- and interpreted, and then substantiated by data from collinearity to exist, the determinant (R )ofthe qualitative sources (i.e. key informant interviews and correlation matrix should be > 0.00001 (Field 2005). semi-participant observations) in a sequential way. Overall, the multivariate models were appropriate Multivariate techniques (i.e. factor analysis and opti- with thedataavailable forthe study. As aresult, the mal scaling), correlation, and descriptive analysis in- first factor produced was quite meaningful and used cluding cross-tabulations were used to examine the as alatentvariable asitfulfils most requirements Guyu and Muluneh Forest Ecosystems (2015) 2:34 Page 6 of 12 mentioned above. All latent dimensions were esti- variable measured from different sources. The overall matedand determined if andonlyiftheyfulfilled analytical framework is given below (Fig. 2). these requirements. IFA indicator was one of them through which we examined the contribution of wild In order to secure a reliable and valid data, ethical is- foods to household resilience to food insecurity. sues were well addressed. The informed consent of each All sources of wild foods were used to calculate for respondent was obtained and their confidentiality was each household. This value of wild foods and six built before the actual interviews were conducted. This other observed variables were analyzed using principal was done prior to their participation by explaining the axis factoring method to estimate the IFA index. The purpose of the study, dispersion of the results, partici- variables include HFIAS, kcal, income, CSI, saving, pant rights and risks. and DDS. The factor analysis generated three factors with eigenvalues greater than 1. The tests of KMO Results and discussion and Bartlett’s statistics suggested that the first factor Amount of wild foods gathered and hunted by households could be used as a representative indicator of IFA. The study showed that surveyed households had house- But, the examination of Scree plot suggested that the hold size of 922.81 in adult equivalent (ADE) with third factor should be dropped from further analysis mean size of 4.20. As shown in Table 2, on average sur- because the slope between it and the second factor veyed households gathered and hunted 156.61 kg of was gentle and allowed the use of the first and sec- wild foods per annum/household. This was very small ond factors only. However, as the variance explained when compared to the average amount of food ob- by both the second and third factors was relatively tained from agricultural produce (i.e. 3146.7 kg). This large enough, three of them were maintained in fur- constituted about 5 % of the total food obtained from ther estimation process. The three factors together all sources and about 9 % of the net available food for explained about 68 % of the total variance in IFA surveyed households during the year. This result is (Table 2). Correlation analysis was also run in order similar with the findings of a study in Tanzania, the to examine the magnitude and direction of relation- sub-Saharan Africa country, where wild fruits consti- ship between each variable and the IFA indicator. tuted about 11 % of food consumed by studied house- Data obtained from key informants and field observa- holds (Kajembe et al. 2000). Although small in amount, tions were carefully organized and analyzed to supple- wild foods also contributed well to household resilience ment the quantitative results. to food insecurity (Table 5) as some wild foods have better nutritional contents than cultivated foods. In this Analytical framework regard, semi-participant field observations and key in- Most variables and latent indicators of resilience are formant interviews showed that most households adopted from Alinovi et al. (2008). Few variables such as (mainly the indigenous) did not miss either wild or wild foods, aspiration, and cultural bond were included semi-wild food in their daily meals mainly during sum- based on the local context. Amount of wild foods ob- mer (rainy season) of Ethiopia. This finding is similar tained by households from different sources forms the with a previous study in southern Ethiopia where the base of the study. Wild foods’ contribution to resilience daily meals of most people comprised an element of is measured through IFA indicator. IFA is a variable con- wild food (both WEPs and WEAs) during certain pe- structed as a composite index of seven variables includ- riods of the survey year (Dechassa and Guinand 2000). ing wild foods. It is assumed that wild foods are used as, Another previous study indicates that wild foods often both observed variable constituting the IFA and, latent have higher contents of important minerals and vita- mins than cultivated plant foods (Milton 1999). In similar interpretation, wild foods in our study area had consider- Table 2 Amount of food available from wild and domesticated/ cultivated sources able importance in household resilience to food insecurity. At least three reasons can be mentioned for collection Food Source Amount produced (kg) and hunting of small amount of wild foods. First, data Total % of Total Mean Std. Min. Max. were collected on purely wild sources of food (i.e. the Cultivated food* 692277 95.26 3147 2368 0.06 13115 semi-wild foods were not considered). Had semi-wild Wild foods 34453 4.74 157 169 0.00 685 foods been considered, the contribution of wild foods Total 726730 100.00 3303 2280 0.06 14610 would have been much higher than what was found Net available food 377725 51.98 409 293 0.06 1959 from purely wild sources. Second, perhaps most house- NB: meat of 1 antelope on average = 25kilogram; 1bird holds did not report hunting wild animals due to fear of on average = 0.5kilogram legal prohibitions. This idea goes in line with a previous 1 kg fish = 10fish; 1 ‘medeb’ cattle meat on average = 10 kg includes own produce, grain purchased and grain borrowed study which states that most often in a given survey the Guyu and Muluneh Forest Ecosystems (2015) 2:34 Page 7 of 12 Fig. 2 Analytical framework (Adapted and modified from Alinovi et al. 2008) amount of wild foods are under-reported perhaps due The analysis of the resilience-vulnerability continuum to hunting forest or bush meat is illegal (Bharucha shows that 60 % of households in both ethno-culture and Pretty 2010). Third, presently hunting and gather- groups were vulnerable to food insecurity. This finding ing are perceived as traditionalism and inferiority so is higher than the level of food insecurity in Ethiopia that many households might have reserved themselves where on average about 44 % of households were food from fully reporting the amount of wild foods they insecure (Haan et al. 2006). It is almost the same as the obtained. By implication if these reasons were re- results in BGR. Food insecurity status in BGR as a moved, the actual amount of wild foods reported by whole where the study area is located and in Bullen dis- the households would have been considerably higher trict located in BGR was 58.1 % (Benishangul-gumuz than what they reported during the survey and their Region [BGR] 2004) and 58 % (Guyu 2014) respectively. contribution to alleviating nutritional inadequacies One parallel data used to analyze food insecurity in and enhancing resilience too. Belo-jiganfoy district based on measure of kcal revealed that 71.8 % of households were food insecure Household food insecurity and resilience statuses (Guyu2015; Ferede and Muluneh 2015). This study also The study showed that large proportion of households indicated that food insecurity was more severe in the was less resilient to seasonal food insecurity (Table 3). green famine belt than in the drought-prone and high On the resilience-vulnerability continuum, 60 %, 19.1 %, population density areas of the country. For example, 17.2 % and 3.7 % of households were vulnerable, moder- while 60 - 71 % of households were food insecure in ately resilient, resilient and highly resilient respectively. Belo-jiganfoy district, about 21.09 % (Messay 2013) and This shows that only 40 % of households were resilient 42.3 % (Tsegay 2009) of households were food insecure to food insecurity at different levels. Ethno-culture in the central Ethiopia (Nonno district, Shewa) and in distribution by resilience category showed that more northern Ethiopia (Tigray region), the former being high households in the indigenous (65.3 %) than those in the population density area and the later being drought-prone non-indigenous (40.2 %) were vulnerable or less resilient area. In this regard, the traditional focus on drought- to food insecurity. In contrast, the majority of house- prone and high-density areas of Ethiopia by overlooking holds in the non-indigenous (62.5 %) were highly resili- famines masked by green environmental conditions in the ent to food insecurity than those in the indigenous western half of the country may not bring long-lasting group (37.5 %). This implies that perhaps the number of solutions for household food insecurity. This implies that resilience-enhancing variables (other than wild foods) researchers and policy makers must equally focus on the was much higher for the non-indigenous than for indi- green famine belt if all-encompassing and sustainable so- genous households. lutions to food insecurity problems are to be brought. Guyu and Muluneh Forest Ecosystems (2015) 2:34 Page 8 of 12 Table 3 Household resilience status by resilience category and ethno-culture group Ethno-culture Within ethno-culture/ Household Resilience Status Total (%) Group resilience category Vulnerable Moderately-res. Resilient Highly-resilient (RI < 0.10, %) (0.10 ≤ RI < 0.25, %) (0.25 ≤ RI < 0.50, %) (RI ≥ 0.50, %) Indigenous Within-ethn 65.3 18.2 14.0 2.5 100 Within-resil 59.8 52.4 44.7 37.5 55 Total 35.9 10.0 7.7 1.4 55 Non-indigenous Within-ethn 53.5 20.2 21.2 5.1 100 Within-resil 40.2 47.6 55.3 62.5 45 Total 24.1 9.1 9.5 2.3 45 Total Within-ethn 60.0 19.1 17.3 3.6 100 Within-resil 100.0 100.0 100.0 100.0 100 Total 60.0 19.1 17.2 3.7 100 Contribution of wild foods to household resilience to wild foods was shared by the factors generated in the food insecurity via IFA factor solution indicating their moderate contribution The IFA index was estimated as average score of the to IFA. The factor loading of 0.467 as captured by three factors generated through factor analysis (Table 4). Factor2 showed that wild foods had significantly contrib- The three factors together explained about 68 % of the uted to IFA. This goes in line with a previous finding by total variance in IFA. The following simple empirical Dechasa and Guinand (2000) in southern Ethiopia model was used to estimate IFA: where wild food constituted daily meals for the ma- jority of households. IFA ¼ 0:3644 Factor1 þ 0:1617 Factor2 The result of correlation analysis showed that there þ 0:1534 Factor3 was direct and significant association between wild foods and IFA (r = 0.174) (Table 5). This shows that a The results of factor analysis indicated that the con- unit increase in wild foods increased the IFA score by tribution of wild foods to IFA was large enough 0.174. In fact all variables except DDS were signifi- (Table 5). The proportion of variance accounted for cantly correlated with IFA. The relatively lower coefficient in wild foods by the rest of the variables (as indicated (r) was perhaps due to the fact that data collected for this by initial communality = 0.170) and by the factors in paper was based on purely wild foods intentionally ignor- the factor solution (communality after extraction = 0.226) ing the semi-wild ones. were acceptable. Accordingly, 17 % of the variance in wild foods was shared by the rest of the variables. This shows Type of wild foods and their contribution to household that wild foods were associated with the rest of the vari- resilience ables in the process of detecting the structure towards es- The study identified eight major types of wild foods con- timating the IFA index. Similarly, 22.6 % of the variance in sumed in the study area (Table 6). This may help to Table 4 Results of factor analysis: Factors in the factor solution and the statistics Statistics Factors in the Factor Solution Results Factor1 Factor2 Factor3 Initial Eigenvalues Total 2.55 1.13 1.07 Variance (%) 36.44 16.17 15.34 Cum. (%) 36.44 52.60 67.94 Extraction Sums of squared Loadings Total 2.20 0.68 0.56 Variance (%) 31.41 9.71 7.94 Cum. (%) 31.41 41.11 49.05 Rotation Sums of squared Loadings Total 1.63 1.17 0.63 Variance (%) 23.29 16.76 9.01 Cum. (%) 23.29 40.04 49.05 Extraction Method: Principal Axis Factoring Guyu and Muluneh Forest Ecosystems (2015) 2:34 Page 9 of 12 Table 5 Communalities, factor loadings and correlation coefficients (r) with IFA Indicators of IFA Communalities Factors & Loads Correlation (r) Initial Extraction 1 2 3 WEFs (quintal/hh/year/) 0.170 0.226 −0.055 0.467 −0.070 0.174 HFIAS scores 0.535 0.952 −0.880 0.343 0.245 −0.457 Kilocalorie/ADE/day 0.486 0.573 0.741 −0.035 0.150 0.743 Income/ADE/year 0.324 0.424 0.405 −0.339 0.381 0.402 CSI Score 0.363 0.733 −0.181 0.836 −0.047 0.287 Saving (birr/ADE/year) 0.229 0.498 0.324 −0.151 0.609 0.581 DDS (No. meal/hh/day) 0.049 0.027 −0.040 −0.002 0.158 0.051 Extraction Method: Principal Axis Factoring Significantly correlated emphasize, when formulating policy and strategies for A previous study indicated that in some African coun- intervention, on relevant ones that were frequently con- tries significant portion of protein is obtained from wild sumed. In the sub Sahara Africa, for example, in South meat. For example, in Cameroon more than 98 % of ani- Africa, wild vegetables have important contributions to mal protein consumed came from bush meat (Muchaal household food security mainly among the poor in rural and Ngandjui 1999). In contrast, our study showed that areas (Mavengahama et al. 2013). This seems true in our wild meat was very small (7.7 % of the total amount of study area where 52.4 % of the total amount of wild wild foods) although large proportion (46.4 %) of house- foods came from wild vegetables. The amount of wild holds reported their dependence on it. Another previous vegetables was about 5 times higher than the second and study indicated that 41 % of surveyed plants in Debub third large contributors: wild fruits and roots, each Omo Zone belonged to vegetables (Teklehaymanot and constituting 11.6 % and 10.6 % respectively. This goes Mirutse 2010). This was less than our finding (i.e. in line with a previous study conducted in semi-arid 52.4 %) showing that dependence on wild vegetables was part of Ethiopia where WEPs were found to play sig- high in the western than the southern Ethiopia. The nificant role in household food security (Debela et al. study showed that larger proportion of households in 2011). The fact that wild vegetables were easily ob- the indigenous ethno-culture group reported their de- tainable and palatable as well as they have good taste pendence on wild foods than the non-indigenous ones and are also important sources of vitamins (Kajembe (Table 6). Honey was reported only by indigenous group et al. 2000) implies that they had contributed to because, as field observation showed, almost all non- households’ nutritional security. Wild fruits and roots indigenous households that reported honey production were reported by 55.9 % and 49.9 % of households. depended on traditional beehives rather than depending They were followed by the amount obtained from on wild source. A previous study indicated that the wild meat (7.7 %), mushrooms (5.9 %), fish (5.6 %), range of animal species eaten by man includes birds and bamboo shoots (3.6 %), and honey (2.8 %). These their eggs, insects, rodents, fish, and larger mammals were reported by 46.4 %, 60.5 %, 48.2 %, 29.5 % and and the nutritional content of wild meat is comparable 25 % of households respectively. to domestic meat (Kajembe et al. 2000). By implication, Table 6 Amount of wild foods by type and % of households depended on them Types of wild Amount (kg) % of total Households reported their dependence on wild foods (of 100 %) % of households foods amount (%) depended on WEF Indigenous (%) Non-indigenous (%) (N = 220, %) Mushroom 2095.25 5.9 75.9 24.1 60.5 Roots 3595.95 10.4 89.9 10.1 49.5 Vegetables 18043.50 52.4 73.8 26.2 64.1 Fruits 3982.30 11.6 79.7 20.3 55.9 Bamboo shoot 1235.30 3.6 98.5 1.5 29.5 Meat 2647.70 7.7 80.4 19.6 46.4 Fish 1915.00 5.6 76.4 23.6 48.2 Honey 968.00 2.8 100.0 0.0 25.0 Total 34453.10 100 55.0 45.0 100.0 Guyu and Muluneh Forest Ecosystems (2015) 2:34 Page 10 of 12 although the amount of wild foods was much smaller previous studies. A previous study conducted in Lebanon than food from domesticated sources, their role in com- showed that wild foods were perceived to cure most dis- bating nutritional insecurity was high in our study area. eases of human beings (Batal et al. 2007). Another study showed that blue-green algae were used as a source of Local perception on human health and wild foods Nexus both food and medicine in Chad and China (FAO 2008). There was a strong believe, mainly by the indigenous Similarly, another study showed that many chronic dis- people, that wild foods have better capacity to maintain eases affecting humans in modern technologic societies good health conditions for those who depend on them. were related to declining and altering trends in traditional They attributed the recent increased incidence and fre- diets including wild foods (Milton 1999). Therefore, we quency of sickness of their family members to the short- can generalize that local people’sperceptionof wildfoods age of wild foods. Regarding this, a key informant in in the study area corresponds with the perception of many Soge village stated the following: “The cause of my sick- people around the world who depend on forest for food. ness is the shortage of wild foods, especially meat. However, scientific investigation of the curative ability of Formerly, wild animals were easily obtained in our back the wild foods is still awaiting further research. yard, killed easily, and eaten. Today, one must walk 3 to 4 h to see an antelope because the land is deforested,” Perceived factors determining Household’s dependence (Mr. Mesha, April 2013). This is similar with the find- on wild foods ings of a previous study on collectors in Botswana who Households were asked about their perception about often travelled 100 km in order to obtain caterpillars for factors that determined the level of their dependence food (Illgner and Nel 2000). on wild foods (Table 7). The factors were proposed Mesha was an elderly man (belongs to Gumuz ethni- after field observations and key interviews were con- city, one of the indigenous ethno-culture groups) in his ducted with some villagers and office workers of the 60s who had been persistently sick due to what is locally district. The large proportion (38.6 %) of households known as berd-beshta, literally means sickness due to perceived reduced source as a reason for their low level cold weather condition. Mesha and his older son, of dependence on wild foods. This was followed by it Tesfaye Mesha, visited many health centers and hos- was not our culture (20 %), hunting and gathering are pitals for treatment. But, Mesha had not recovered legally banned (19.5 %), wild foods have currently van- from his sickness. The researchers tried to understand ished (17.8 %) and crop produced is enough (12.3 %). the reasons based on the way the father and his son The overall observation of these finding indicated that perceived it. Both believed that lack of wild meat households had the desire to continue to gather and caused the sickness explaining that formerly one did hunt wild foods but the amount they obtained was very not miss at least a dried wild meat in kitchen. The low due to the above reasons. reasons for decreased consumption of wild meat, ac- The study also revealed that there were differences cording them, were two. First, wild animals had been between the ethno-culture groups about the perceived forced to migrate far into remote areas due to in- factors. As indicated in Table 7, 4.1 % of households in creased deforestation. Second, hunting the available the indigenous group as compared to 8.2 % of them in mammals had been banned legally although people the non-indigenous group reported that crop produced had continued to practice it in a hidden manner. The was enough so that they were less dependent on wild perceived medicinal values of wild foods reported in foods. Overall, lesser proportion of the indigenous our study area go in line with the findings of many (11.2 %) than the non-indigenous (34.1 %) ethno- Table 7 Perceived factors determining dependence on wild foods by ethno-culture group Reasons for Low level of Dependence Ethno-culture Group Total on wild foods (N = 220) Indigenous Non-indigenous No. % No. % No. % Crop Produce is enough 9 4.1 18 8.2 27 12.3 Reduced Source of wild foods 31 14.1 54 24.5 85 38.6 Hunting & gathering are legally banned 14 6.4 29 13.2 43 19.5 Wild foods have currently vanished 12 5.5 26 11.8 38 17.8 It is not our culture 2 0.9 42 19.1 44 20.0 Total frequency (Responded yes) 68 11.2 169 34.1 237 21.5 Grand total frequency (yes + no) 605 55.0 495 45.0 1100 100.0 Guyu and Muluneh Forest Ecosystems (2015) 2:34 Page 11 of 12 culture groups reported one or more of the five reasons Competing interests The authors declare that they have no competing interests. for their low level of dependence on wild foods. This implies that perhaps indigenous households were en- Authors’ contributions gaged in gathering and hunting all times of wild foods The corresponding author conceived the study and supervised data collection, performed statistical analysis, and drafted the manuscript. while the non-indigenous often practice these activities Both authors critically read and revised the draft manuscript and following food insecurity shocks. approved the final version. Acknowledgements Conclusion We, the authors, thank all the individuals and institutions that contributed This paper examined the contribution of wild foods to the preparation of this paper. Specifically, we extend our thanks to the to household resilience to food insecurity in the green evaluation committee of Addis Ababa University, department of GeES, for examining and criticizing the paper at the very beginning in its proposal famine belt of Ethiopia taking Belo-jiganfoy district as stage which really contributed much to the quality of the paper. We a case study area. Although the amount gathered and extend our thanks to the participants of workshop organized by OSSREA hunted was very small, the high level of factor load- who commented the paper when presented for contributing to the policy dialogue held on 2, July 2015 in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. Moreover, we ing and significant correlation show that wild foods thank our colleagues, who edited and improved the language errors. had considerably contributed to household resilience Finally, had it not been for the contribution of the editors of the Forest to food insecurity. The fact that more than half of Ecosystems and the three reviewers, this paper would not have been in its present state of quality. These individuals have really contributed a lot of the wild foods were obtained from wild vegetables valuable inputs to the paper through the review processes carried out in implies that they were more abundant than other two rounds. Thank you all! types during the survey year. The study also revealed Received: 14 July 2015 Accepted: 17 December 2015 that while the contribution of wild foods to human health is significant, the declining dependence on them had caused some health problems which cannot References Agea JG, KImondo JM, Okia CA (2011) Contribution of Wild Edible Food Plants to be cured through modern medical treatments, which Overall Household Diet in Bunyoro-Kitara Kingdom, Uganda. 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"Forest Ecosystems" – Springer Journals
Published: Dec 1, 2015
Keywords: Ecology; Ecosystems; Forestry
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