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Diversification Patterns and Livelihood Strategies of Rural Households: Characterization and the Role of Non-Farm Activities in Relation to Farm Activities. A Comparative Perspective from Senegal and Kenya

Research Student: Sarah Harriet Alobo Loison

Duration: 2012 - 2015

Supervisor: Magnus Jirström

Assistant supervisor: Agnes Andersson Djurfeldt

Diversification of incomes, assets and activities is a common livelihood strategy among rural households in Sub-Saharan Africa. It is viewed as a way through which farm households can mitigate risk and stabilize their incomes, thereby offering a strong option for spurring growth, overcoming poverty and enhancing food security. There are many studies on diversification at the rural household level with the vast majority examining factors that influence their participation in non-farm activities.

Very few studies examine the linkages between rural activities (farm and nonfarm) using the livelihood approach or distinguish between the nature of diversification activities. In addition, it is not clear the synergy between rural farm and non-farm activities nor what environments characterize such activities. This study aims to fill the gap by providing evidence from a comparative perspective of rural farm households in two SSA countries, Senegal and Kenya, who display strong levels of involvement in non‐farm activities, to identify the patterns, similarities and differences. 

The overall objective of the study is to investigate the linkages between farm activities and non-farm activities, and the dynamic changes, among rural farm households in Kenya and Senegal. Some specific questions include: Are farmers moving away from farming into non-farming activities? What are the linkages between farm and non-farm activities? What are the patterns and determinants of diversification? 

The study employs a mixed methods approach involving both qualitative and quantitative data to answer its objectives. Quantitative data comes from panel rural household surveys conducted in the two countries by two projects RuralStruc (CIRAD/World Bank) in 2008 and 2012 for Senegal, and Afrint (Lund University, Sweden) in 2008 and 2013 for Kenya. The quantitative data is supplemented with qualitative data from additional fieldwork in the 2 African countries. 

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