Livelihood Strategies of Rural Women with Emphasis on Income Diversification and Demographic Adjustment in Central Ethiopia: The Case of Olonkomoi1, Oromia Region
This article explores some of the livelihood strategies of rural women with emphasis on an income diversification and demographic adjustment in Olonkomi locality in the context of rapid population growth. The data used in the study came from selected 150 households’ socio-economic and demographic survey, group discussions, and interview and other secondary sources. Results indicated that the population of Olonkomi and its locality was growing at a rate of about 2.4 percent per annum, which leads to limited access to the scarce land and other resources. As a result, many rural people in general and women in particular have adopted diversified livelihood strategies that could enable them partly cope with livelihood problems. Therefore, women have involved in casual and unregulated labor of income generating activities such as processing and selling local beverages, selling fire wood, making hand crafts, petty trading etc., although their impact on livelihood improvement was minimal due to poor access to credit from financial institutions, lack of skill and training, and scarce labor supplies in case of femaleheaded households. Observation of women, especially female-headed households who diversified their household income sources as a survival strategy were more notable. Fertility showed a declining trend though the change was small. The change emanated from the fact that considering adjustment of family size as a strategy to mitigate livelihood tragedy, about 27% of the rural women respondents began to limit the number of children they could bear in their reproductive age span of 15-49. Landless young people, especially females, used to move away from home to look for employment opportunities. However, migration could not bring significant change on the livelihood condition of thepeople. The small amount of remittance that the households received from migrants was an indicator of the situation that it could not make difference in the livelihood situation. Some of the rural households used to send grains to support some of the out-migrants. Despite the observed little improvements in rural livelihood situation, as a survival strategy and means of improving livelihood, the rural communities in general and female-headed households in particular engaged in various non-farm and off-farm activities, migrated to the closest towns and city and made demographic adjustment by limiting the number of new born children. The new strategies (non-farm activities and demographic adjustment) can bear fruits and improve rural livelihood situations provided the local and regional governments in collaboration with local communities and other stake holders manage to improve rural households’ access to land, physical and social infrastructure as well as provision of microfinance institutions.
Key words: demographic adjustment, income diversification, livelihood
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