PhD Study Contributes to Food Security Policy
The important topic of policy implications arising from strategies for the eradication of poverty and food insecurity was central to the theme of the thesis of Dr Richard Kajombo who graduated from UKZN's Pietermaritzburg campus with his PhD in Food Security.
Kajombo completed a BSc in Agricultural Economics at the Bunda College of Agriculture at the University of Malawi and undertook his Masters in Development and Resource Economics at the Norwegian University of Life Sciences (UMB). Having identified what he describes as a number of gaps in the emerging academic field of Food Security, he chose to conduct his PhD in that field, where he felt his background in economics, econometrics and impact assessments would enable him to contribute to the body of knowledge.
His research comprised an investigation of the poverty and food insecurity status of households, scrutinising their underlying causes, viable livelihood options and policy implications in rural areas of KwaZulu-Natal. It also showed the importance of understanding the heterogeneity of households, their interaction with resources and the role of policies in improving households’ welfare.
According to Kajombo, it was the high incidence of household food insecurity, poverty and vulnerability among rural households in KZN that stimulated his interest in this topic.
‘I wanted to provide some options to policy makers to address poverty and food insecurity among resource-poor households,’ said Kajombo.
Key findings of the study indicate that household welfare could be achieved through provisions of combinations of basic services including access to water and agricultural extension, improved household resource endowment, consumption and market policy interventions.
Kajombo believes that these results could provide policy makers with appropriate policy areas for intervention to improve rural livelihoods, welfare and quality of life, contribute to existing literature on household food security and guide policy and programme implementation in South Africa.
He said UKZN and its staff members provided him with an environment conducive to his research.
Co-supervisor Dr Joyce Chitja of the African Centre for Food Security (ACFS) said she encouraged Kajombo to pursue his PhD with UKZN after observing his contributions and dedication to his work with the Malawi Vulnerability Assessment Committee (VAC), a structure that monitors and implements food security and vulnerability programmes in Malawi and all SADC countries.
‘Throughout his studies, Richard was involved in research projects in the ACFS that supported his stay and completion,’ said Chitja. ‘His study formed a key part of the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (DAFF) Food Security Research commissioned to the ACFS and is significant in that strategies for poverty and food insecurity eradication remain a challenge among policy makers in both developed and developing countries, including South Africa,’ she said. ‘His study contributes to the wider policy context in the promotion of rural household food security.’
Having completed his PhD, Kajombo hopes to have more time to spend with his family, particularly his son and daughter.
He says he will continue with as much research as he can. ‘Once a researcher, always a researcher.'
Kajombo thanked his wife, Eunice, for her love, support and patience throughout his PhD research process, and his supervisors, Professor Ayalneh Bogale and Dr Joyce Chitja, as well as Professor Albert Modi, for their academic support. He also thanked members of staff at the ACFS, the congregation at Cornerstone Assembly and everyone who contributed to the success of his work.