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Seasonal hunger in Zambia: Smoothing consumption through better planning

Health & Psychology Zambia

Credit: Alex Berger

This project investigates seasonal poverty in rural Zambia, where most households depend on agriculture as their primary source of income. Zambian farmers principally grow maize (Kabwe 2018), which is harvested once per year. 80% of households run out of maize before the next harvest; this period is referred to locally as the “hungry season.” This project intends to explore the underlying causes of seasonal poverty.

We hypothesize that cognitive constraints pose a challenge to households saving sufficiently for the hungry season. To test this, we will conduct a randomized field study in regions of Zambia which suffer the most acute hungry seasons. Households will be assigned to one of two conditions: a group that engages in a planning exercise in which they recall their expenditures in past years and then sets aside bags of maize to finance expenditures for the coming year, and a control group.

For more information, read the CEGA blog post about this project.

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Smoothing Seasonal Hunger through Planning in Zambia

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