Resource allocation decisions in malaria-prone farming households in Kagera region of Tanzania

Type Journal Article
Title Resource allocation decisions in malaria-prone farming households in Kagera region of Tanzania
Publication (Day/Month/Year) 2011
URL Allocation Decision in Malaria prone hhs in Tanzania.pdf
In Kagera region of Tanzania, malaria is endemic due to its geographic location, acute household poverty and absence of proper infrastructure, basic amenities, and formal insurance and credit markets. These limitations force farming households to adapt to various ex ante and ex post strategies to deal with crop failure, income uncertainty or illness of family members. Against this background, this paper uses Kagera Health Development Survey (KHDS) data of 910 randomly selected households interviewed annually during 1991-94 to test one central hypothesis that households adapt ex ante to malaria risk and frequent disasters like earthquakes, famines, crop failure, pest attack and AIDS epidemic by partly shifting from crops with high risks, high returns to those having lower returns but demanding less marketed inputs and less labor engagement. The argument in favor of ex ante adjustment in cropping pattern, choice of activity and expenditure on health and ex post purchase involves an intimate understanding of microeconomic processes. Ex post households sell livestock and property, run down various liquid assets, and rely on remittance income, besides incurring expenditure on malaria cure and control. A priori arguments behind this hypothesis, which provide additional questions for deeper probing, are: first, attack of malaria reduces quantum of family labor supply, second, occasional but persistent fever due to malaria often degenerate ‘standard’ labor into non-standard one, third, the two above-stated effects reduce total family income – whether generated inside through family enterprises, or earned through market participation; and fourth, expenditure incurred on cure and treatment of malaria tends to further reduce family income, curtailing household resources for potential investment in agriculture and non-agriculture activities; fifth, households are forced to run down their past savings, rely on remittance income and even engage in casual labor activities. To what extent the above-stated direct and indirect risk burden of malaria will fall on the cropping pattern, income earning sources, asset holding, and investment in agricultural inputs and health would depend on the household’s dependence on farming activities and its access to various hedging instruments at both intra, inter and extra – (i.e., community and government) household levels as well as those available in the market place. A preliminary understanding of the basic micro-economic process is attempted in this paper through development of a static microeconomic model of a household followed by empirical testing of the underlying hypotheses using the rich KHDS data

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