Risk, Knowledge and Health in Africa: Introduction to the Symposium

African Development Review, 2009

Posted: 21 May 2011

See all articles by Olu Ajakaiye

Olu Ajakaiye

Independent

Christopher B. Barrett

Cornell University - Charles H. Dyson School of Applied Economics & Management

Ravi Kanbur

Cornell University; Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR); IZA Institute of Labor Economics

David E. Sahn

Cornell University

Stephen D. Younger

Tulane University - CEQ Institute

Date Written: April 11, 2009

Abstract

The African natural and policy environment can be quite risky. Particularly in rural areas, weather and pests are a constant threat to livelihood, as are the vagaries of world markets and government policy. Not surprisingly, African households have developed approaches to mitigation of, and adaptation to, these risks. Livelihood diversification, and growing crops with less risky yields, even if the yields are lower on average, is one strategy to reduce risk ex ante, as is reliance on self-provisioning and home production as a source of food. Sharing mechanisms that enable households to transfer risk ex post within and beyond their village is another. But weather and policy shocks to output and incomes are not the only risk. Health shocks are prevalent in tropical Africa where most countries have ecologies that make them vulnerable to not just hunger induced by droughts, but killer infectious diseases. Geography has thus contributed to the widespread prevalence of malaria, schistosomiasis, and other vector borne diseases in much of the continent. More recently, with the spread of HIV/AIDS, sexual activity is accompanied by extreme risk. Poor health, in its various guises, affects well-being and productivity of individuals and households. Health risk thus permeates economic life in Africa, and to date health systems, and provision of services by both government and private institutions, have proven no match for long-standing diseases, let alone emerging health challenges such as HIV/AIDS.

Suggested Citation

Ajakaiye, Olu and Barrett, Christopher B. and Kanbur, Ravi and Sahn, David E. and Younger, Stephen D., Risk, Knowledge and Health in Africa: Introduction to the Symposium (April 11, 2009). African Development Review, 2009. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1846643

Olu Ajakaiye

Independent ( email )

No Address Available

Christopher B. Barrett (Contact Author)

Cornell University - Charles H. Dyson School of Applied Economics & Management ( email )

315 Warren Hall
Ithaca, NY 14853-7801
United States
607-255-4489 (Phone)
607-255-9984 (Fax)

HOME PAGE: http://aem.cornell.edu/faculty_sites/cbb2/

Ravi Kanbur

Cornell University ( email )

301-J Warren Hall
Ithaca, NY 14853
United States
607-255-7966 (Phone)
607-255-9984 (Fax)

HOME PAGE: http://www.kanbur.dyson.cornell.edu

Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR)

London
United Kingdom

IZA Institute of Labor Economics

P.O. Box 7240
Bonn, D-53072
Germany

David E. Sahn

Cornell University ( email )

B16 MVR Hall
Ithaca, NY 14853
United States
607-255-8931 (Phone)
607-255-0178 (Fax)

HOME PAGE: http://courses.cit.cornell.edu/des16

Stephen D. Younger

Tulane University - CEQ Institute ( email )

6823 St Charles Ave
New Orleans, LA 70118
United States

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