Land degradation, food and tenure insecurity are significant problems in the northern highlands of Ethiopia, particularly in the region known as the country’s famine corridor. Addressing these twine issues in the region has become a focal point for both local and international organizations, underscoring the significance of preventive measures. Since 2000, the Government of Ethiopia (GoE) has been implementing sustainable land management and certification programs. This study aims on households involved in these programs, specifically in Dessie Zuria and Kutaber Woredas, South Wello Zone (SWZ). The primary objectives of the research were to assess households’ current food security status, identify factors influencing their food security, and classify coping and survival strategies employed by households during food shortages. Primary and secondary sources have been used to collect both qualitative and quantitative data. Quantitative data were collected from surveyed households and analyzed USING SPSS software version 26, whereas qualitative data were transcribed, grouped, and interpreted in line with the aim of the research. Three food security models, namely the Household Food Balance Model, Months of Adequate Household Food Provisioning, and Household Dietary Diversity Score, were employed to evaluate food security. Consequently, a significant percentage of the surveyed households, amounting to 88.3%, 35.6%, and 93.8%, were found to experience food insecurity according to the respective models. Rainfall shortages and variability, crop pests and diseases, shrinking farm plots, and land degradation are among the identified food security determinants. During dearth periods, households deploy a variety of coping and survival strategies. To mitigate food insecurity stemming from both natural and socio-economic factors, the research suggests several recommendations. These include advocating for tenure policy reforms by the GoE, and the local governments should promote the adoption of efficient land management practices, instituting a land certification system based on cadasters, encouraging family planning, boosting investments in education and literacy, raising awareness and providing training in climate-smart agriculture techniques, educating communities on optimal grain utilization, saving, trade, and storage methods, facilitating opportunities for income generation through off-farm and non-farm activities, and offering support for crop and livestock diversification.