Working Paper

Mining, Rural Livelihoods and Food Security: A Disaggregated Analysis of Sub- Saharan Africa

Date Published

Jun 13, 2019


Tim Wegenast, Jule Beck



Wegenast, T. and Beck, J. (2019). Mining, Rural Livelihoods and Food Security: A Disaggregated Analysis of Sub- Saharan Africa. AidData Working Paper #80. Williamsburg, VA: AidData at William & Mary.

Update: A revised version of this paper has been published in World Development.


The potential impacts of extractive industries on local food security are difficult to predict. On the one hand, resource extraction may generate more employment opportunities, provide farmers with better market access and increase fiscal transfers to resource-producing regions. On the other hand, mineral production may contribute to the marginalization of poor smallholders by encouraging land grabs, environmental degradation and structural labor market shifts. Combining geocoded survey data from the Demographic Health Survey and Afrobarometer with novel information on the control rights of gold, diamond and copper mines in Sub-Saharan Africa, this paper is the first attempt to systematically test the effect of mining activities on local populations’ access to food. Results from logistic models using individual mines as level of analysis suggest that the impact of mineral extraction on food security is gender- and ownership-specific. Mining operations decrease food availability among women in a substantial way, while – at the same time – showing no significant or even a positive effect on men’s access to food. Our instrumental variable models further reveal that particularly multinational mining companies are linked to increased food insecurity, while domestic firms are not. Finally, our fixed effects estimates demonstrate that mining is also related to poorer nutritional diversity. Relying on detailed information on children’s food consumption patterns from the Demographic Health Survey, we find that children living in districts hosting multinational mining firms eat a less diverse diet compared to other districts.

Funding: Research support from the German Research Foundation is gratefully acknowledged (WE4850/1-2).

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