Households in the West African semi-arid tropics (WASAT) face substantial risk - an inevitable consequence of engaging in rainfed agriculture in a drought-prone environment. It has long been hypothesized that these households keep livestock as a buffer stock to insulate their consumption from income fluctuations. This paper tests this hypothesis. Results indicate that livestock transactions play less of a consumption smoothing role than often assumed. Livestock sales compensate for at most thirty percent, and probably closer to fifteen percent of income shortfalls due to village-level shocks alone. We discuss possible explanations for these results and suggest directions for future work.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Economics and Econometrics