AND VULNERABILITY INFORMATION AND MAPPING SYSTEMS
1. In March 1997, FAO convened a Technical Consultation to (i) review existing methodologies and indicators for the assessment of food insecurity and vulnerability and make recommendations for their improvement; and (ii) propose a workplan for the development and establishment of FIVIMS at national and international levels. Specific recommendations were made concerning methodological issues for estimating the number of undernourished people, the use of the Body Mass Index technique in assessing adult nutritional status, and monitoring chronic and structural vulnerability. The Consultation further recommended a series of actions to ensure the smooth development of FIVIMS. These actions were reviewed and generally approved by the Committee on Word Food Security (CFS) at its Twenty-third Session in April 1997. Those to be undertaken in the short term included:
2. This document reports on actions taken since the last session of CFS to implement these recommendations and suggests steps to be taken for the further development of FIVIMS at both national and global levels.
3. During the past year, a number of steps have been taken to implement the short term actions, recommended for the development of FIVIMS. These include:
4. The Inter-Agency Working Group on FIVIMS (IAWG-FIVIMS) has been established and two meetings have been held. The first, hosted by FAO, took place in Rome in December 1997, and the second, hosted by International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), in April 1998. Membership of the IAWG currently includes representatives of 21 agencies and organizations, including bilateral donor agencies. At the December 1997 meeting, the Working Group approved its terms of reference and modus operandi (contained in Annex). It recommended that FAO provide the Permanent Secretariat for the Working Group and that the meetings be hosted by member agencies and organizations on a rotating basis. It also agreed that the development of FIVIMS at country level should be promoted by theThematic Groups belonging to the ACC Network on Rural Development and Food Security, the mechanism established by the ACC to ensure appropriate inter-agency coordination for World Food Summit follow-up at field level. Finally, it established a number of technical sub-groups to develop recommendations on various open issues relating to the further development of FIVIMS.
5. A request was made to member countries to designate national focal points for FIVIMS. The main functions of these focal points are to establish a collaborative mechanism involving all units operating systems that produce or use information and statistics of relevance for FIVIMS, and to serve as liaison between the national FIVIMS and relevant international organisations on general matters related to FIVIMS. By mid April 1998, about 50 countries had nominated their focal points and these have been provided with information and documentation on FIVIMS.
6. The first draft of the Guidelines for National FIVIMS was prepared in October 1997 and reviewed by the IAWG-FIVIMS at its first meeting in December 1997. Based on the comments made by the IAWG a second draft was produced and reviewed again by the Working Group at its meeting in April 1998. In order to reflect the views of the potential users of the Guidelines, experts from 12 countries participated in the review of the second draft and the cumulative comments were used in producing the third draft which is being submitted for consideration by the Committee. To facilitate this review, a questionnaire was prepared by the Secretariat and sent to all experts in advance of the meeting. This review by national experts was seen as replacing the preparation of case studies envisaged earlier in a few selected countries.
7. An international FIVIMS work programme, comprised of the following elements, is proposed.
8. Given that countries vary considerably in terms of food security situation and information systems development, priorities for FIVIMS work will vary substantially from one country to the next. Areas for the development of an international work programme to support in-country FIVIMS activities include:
9. The World Bank, both as part of its cooperation with FAO on agricultural statistics in Africa, and through its Africa Nutrition Databank Initiative (ANDI), will mobilise resources for support to national-level activity. The Japanese government has provided funds for a regional project to develop tools for FIVIMS in Asia. USAID envisages providing support to the development of environmental information and mapping linked to FIVIMS under the on-going Global Terrestrial Observing System (GTOS). As part of the follow-up to the World Food Summit, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and other donors have indicated interest in supporting country-level activities, as well as regional and global activities related to FIVIMS.
10. The concept of global FIVIMS is emerging from the work of the IAWG-FIVIMS and its members. A core activity of the global FIVIMS will be to link relevant data from existing internationally-held databases through a commonly-accessible data dissemination system made available in the public domain on the Internet and on CD-ROM. This system will provide users with data query, access and mapping capabilities for analytical and comparative purposes.
11. Steps that must be taken in order to meet the information availability objective for global FIVIMS are:
12. Another major task that awaits the IAWG subgroup on global FIVIMS is to clarify issues concerning the decentralised management of the global FIVIMS, and to determine the full range of potential users and uses of global FIVIMS. Key questions to be addressed include:
13. It is planned to periodically issue a global FIVIMS report with a selected collection of country-level indicators and data extracted from the system, using CFS guidance and indicators and targets for monitoring of progress towards the WFS objectives.
14. Finally, it should be noted that there are useful multi-country, regional FIVIMS efforts that can and are being undertaken. For example, under the above-mentioned regional project for Asia, there will be a review of existing methodologies, vulnerability indicators, and data bases; production of regional, national, and sub-national maps of critical factors; and testing of an Internet-based dissemination system. Similarly, the World Bank-sponsored Africa Nutrition Database Initiative is in the process of developing procedures for data sharing among international agencies and agreement on an initial set of core indicators that will allow a high quality nutritional database to be created and maintained on a decentralised, networked basis among cooperating agencies. This experience can serve as a pilot project for the development of the global FIVIMS database, since the methodological and inter-agency cooperation issues are quite similar in the two efforts.
15. Two key sets of estimates should come out of FIVIMS development work in every country: the number of undernourished persons, whose food intake is inadequate, and the different estimates pertaining to the broader concept of undernutrition. The latter refers to persons exhibiting symptoms of poor nutritional status caused by a poor state of general health, by specific disease or infection, or by a problem with micronutrients, usually but not always occurring in individuals that have also had inadequate food intake over a period of time.
16. FAO has published the methodology it used to derive the number of undernourished people by country (for 90 plus countries), in the Sixth World Food Survey. It has also stated that there is much that can be done to improve these estimates. FAO is prepared to collaborate with concerned agencies and governments in undertaking this task, subject to the availability of additional resources to support this work.
17. In the related area of data on undernutrition, there is also need to assemble and reconcile data from specialised surveys on nutritional status (as measured by child and adult anthropometry) and on food intake. Often, very valuable sub-national data sets may be used to adjust or update national survey figures. The Food and Nutrition Division in FAO works closely with similar units in The International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI), The World Health Organization (WHO), the United Nations Childrens Fund (UNICEF), the World Bank, and other organizations to address this problem. Again, additional resources will have to be identified to move forward with this work.
18. FAO has made available to all member countries the methodology and resulting estimates for the numbers of undernourished based on inadequate calorie intake. Countries are invited to review this methodology and the derived estimates, and to advise on their acceptance or on alternative methodologies and numbers that they consider more appropriate to the national situation, so that a national benchmark figure can be established and used as a reference for future evaluations. A continuous dialogue between the concerned units in FAO and their counterparts in other agencies and in members countries, will contribute to refining the methodologies and the resulting estimates.
19. At the first meeting of the IAWG-FIVIMS there was substantial discussion of some of the conceptual, methodological, and political issues that surround the generation and applied programmatic use of improved information on food security and nutrition. Among these are the following:
20. The advice and guidance of the scientific community in addressing the above-mentioned open issues will be sought as time and resources permit.
21. It is clear from the above discussion that consideration must be given to enhancing the capacity of the IAWG-FIVIMS Secretariat in the areas of communications, training, and provision of clearinghouse services. In the communications area, some type of periodic Internet newsletter to international partners and relevant partner organizations in member countries would seem warranted. In training, the key will be coordination and facilitation of sensitization and training workshops. In the area of clearinghouse services, in addition to continued work on the Technical Compendium, which will be the outlet for technical notes and methodological guidelines that have been reviewed by the IAWG, a working paper series would be useful, involving Internet dissemination of interesting contributions, in the original language, on work in progress or results obtained by national FIVIMS. The Secretariat will also need to keep abreast of requests for assistance in initiating national FIVIMS activities, and ensure that appropriate support is mobilised.
22. FAO has budgeted over US$ 3 million for the 1998-99 biennium to support FIVIMS, including the costs of the IAWG Secretariat. All partners in the IAWG, as well as major bilateral donors, are collaborating in various ways to ensure that central communications and clearinghouse functions of the IAWG Secretariat are carried out effectively.
23. At this session, the Committee is expected to review and give its approval to the draft Terms of Reference for the IAWG-FIVIMS (see Annex ) and to the Guidelines for National FIVIMS (document CFS:98/5). It is also requested to give its views on the proposed work programme described above.
1. The IAWG-FIVIMS has been established pursuant to Objectives 2.2, and 7.2 of the World Food Summit Plan of Action and subsequent decisions taken by the Committee on World Food Security (CFS) at its Twenty-third Session (April 1997). The CFS welcomed the proposed constitution of an inter-agency mechanism to provide oversight to the process of developing FIVIMS, and generally approved the establishment of the IAWG at the technical level. In granting this approval, the CFS stressed the need for the process of developing FIVIMS to be country-driven, and for governments and their respective societies and stakeholders to be intimately involved in the development of FIVIMS. It agreed to review progress in the development of FIVIMS at its Twenty-fourth Session in 1998. The duration of the IAWG-FIVIMS mandate will be determined by the CFS.
2. Membership of IAWG-FIVIMS is by invitation of the Permanent Secretariat to international and regional agencies and organizations, governmental and non-governmental, which have significant activities in any aspect of food insecurity and vulnerability information and mapping. National institutions which are active in this field at the international level may also be invited.
3. All relevant agencies and organizations may request membership by writing to the Permanent Secretariat. Any additional questions regarding membership will be decided upon by IAWG-FIVIMS.
4. The IAWG-FIVIMS will have a Permanent Secretariat, based in FAO Headquarters, to carry out the following tasks:
5. The objective of IAWG-FIVIMS is to achieve collaboration and cooperation among all member agencies and organizations in assisting national governments to develop food insecurity and vulnerability information and mapping systems, and synthesizing and sharing information at regional and international levels. The IAWG-FIVIMS will in particular: