Twenty-sixth Session

Rome, 18-21 September 2000


Table of Contents


1. Two years ago, FAO reported to the CFS (document CFS:98/4) on the first six months of the FIVIMS programme of inter-agency collaboration in assisting national governments to develop food insecurity and vulnerability information and mapping systems, and synthesising and sharing information at regional and international levels. A year later, at the 25th CFS in 1999, the committee requested that a report on FIVIMS progress be prepared for every session of CFS. This document is the first of these annual progress reports.



2. Since one of the main purposes of promoting development of improved food insecurity and vulnerability information and mapping systems is to improve the design and targeting of interventions directed at reducing food insecurity and vulnerability, the most important place for the development of FIVIMS is at country level. This is where the members and the secretariat of the Inter-Agency Working Group (IAWG) on FIVIMS have devoted most of their effort to date.

(a.) Progress in establishing FIVIMS at Country Level

3. The IAWG Secretariat tracking system has been used to provide the detail for the Information Note on Status of FIVIMS at Country Level (CFS:2000/Inf.9). Table 1 on the following page summarises, by region, information available to the secretariat on FIVIMS and closely related programmes for 120 countries.1 Findings from an analysis of the table are highlighted in the following four paragraphs.

4. Awareness of the need for action to improve the nutritional status of national populations is widespread, at least at official levels. This is demonstrated in Table 1 which shows that 99 of the 120 countries (or 83 percent) have a National Plan of Action on Nutrition (NPANs), the cornerstone of joint WHO/FAO supported in-country follow-up to the 1992 International Conference on Nutrition (ICN).

5. Awareness and participation in the newer FIVIMS initiative has also grown. In 84 countries (70 percent), one or more of the recommended steps for the establishment of national FIVIMS have been taken. 2

Table 1: Summary Status of FIVIMS and related Programmes in 120 Countries

Region and Number of Countries

Steps in Development of FIVIMS

Related Programmes

  Focal Points Ident Vuln Groups Net-work Assess of Info Plan & TAProp One or More Steps NPAN ACC TG WFP VAM

Number of Countries

RAF 45 28 16 10 11 15 34 39 6 12
RLC 33 19 3 8 3 7 23 32 0 10
RAP 25 17 3 9 6 6 18 22 8 8
RNE 17 5 2 2 5 4 9 9 4 4
Total 120 69 24 29 25 32 84 99 18 34

Percentage of Countries

RAF 62 36 22 24 33 76 87 13 27
RLC 58 9 24 9 21 70 97 0 30
RAP 68 12 36 24 24 72 88 32 32
RNE 29 12 12 29 24 53 53 24 24
Total 58 21 24 21 27 70 83 16 28
Definitions: Steps in FIVIMS Development

Focal Points   Country has appointed FIVIMS focal point(s).

Ident Vuln Groups   Country has begun to identify and characterise vulnerable groups.

Network   Country has created a national FIVIMS network and other institutional arrangements.

Assess of Info   Country has assessed adequacy of existing FS information systems.

Plan & TA Prop   Country has produced action plan for FIVIMS or proposal for technical assistance.

One or More Steps   Country has done one or more of recommended steps for establishing FIVIMS.

Definitions: FIVIMS Related Programmes

NPAN   National Plan of Action on Nutrition has been completed as part of ICN follow-up.

ACC TG  ACC Thematic Group has designated FIVIMS as priority.

WFP VAM   WFP VAM (Vulnerability Assessment and Mapping) units active in country.

Source: CFS:2000/Inf.9 "Information Note on the Status of FIVIMS at Country Level"

6. Among the other activities recommended for the establishment or strengthening of national FIVIMS, we have the following results:

7. One of the most important of the FIVIMS-related programmes in Table 1 is the Vulnerability Assessment and Mapping (VAM) programme, used by the WFP to target the use of its food aid resources. It is active in 34 (28 %) of the 120 countries. Other co-operating IAWG partner efforts, focused largely on the analysis of emergency food needs, are: USAID FEWS (Famine Early Warning System) in Africa the RESAL (Réseau de Sécurité Alimentaire) of the European Union, and the Projet Alerte Precoce et Prevision des Productions Agricoles of the Italian Cooperation, in collaboration with CILSS and the WMO. These bilateral programmes collaborate with and produce information products that inspire national efforts. Finally, in 19 countries the ACC Thematic Group on Rural Development and Food Security has designated FIVIMS development as a priority activity.

(b.) Assistance to Countries in Strengthening National Food Security Information Systems and Related Nutritional Action Programmes

8. IAWG members have sponsored a number of country-level activities either to diagnose the current state of national information systems and/or to assist in the development of operational strategies on how those systems can more effectively assist food insecure and vulnerable population groups:

9. In addition, the work of two regional networks, APNFN in Asia and Red SISVAN in Latin America,3 has been very important in raising awareness of FIVIMS objectives and implementation of recommended information system standards.

10. National Plans of Action for Nutrition (as part of ICN Follow-up): FIVIMS can contribute significantly to meeting the information requirements of National Plans of Action for Nutrition (NPANs), developed as follow-up to the International Conference on Nutrition of 1992. As of June 2000, there were a total of 116 countries with NPANs, 65 officially adopted by the respective governments, and 51 in "draft form" (not formally approved, but often in use).

11. FAO and WHO have often joined their efforts to assist countries in the development and implementation of NPANs. These action plans focus on the identification and formulation of sustainable and empowerment-based solutions for the improvement of nutritional wellbeing. The FAO/WHO programme has two sets of activities: (a) development of guidelines and (b) regional workshops for the sharing of experiences and methods. A number of guidelines, based on lessons learned from successful nutrition interventions in countries around the world, are nearing completion. The topics covered will focus on basic issues involved in getting better nutritional results through community level empowerment.

12. Effective implementation of NPANs requires a substantial amount of information on the food and nutrition situation in a country. Thus, while improved information can not substitute for appropriate resources and the political will to act, it is a necessary ingredient in the process.

13. The second major activity, usually jointly sponsored by FAO and WHO are regional ICN follow-up workshops, which provide opportunities for reporting on progress in improving nutritional status and food security and for exploring new strategies to improve implementation of NPANs. Since the WFS in 1996, the development and implementation of NPANs is being carried out as an integral part of the follow-up to the WFS, given the Summit's broad base and strengthened focus on ensuring food security. Two such workshops were held in Asia in 1999, 37 countries from Asia and the Pacific region participated. Central and Eastern European countries have expressed a renewed interest in Plans of Action on food security and nutrition, and a first workshop was held in Slovenia in June 2000. Two joint ICN and WFS follow-up workshops are also foreseen later this year for Africa, one for Francophone countries and the other for Anglophone countries, where FIVIMS will be presented as an implementation component.

(c.) Providing additional Sensitisation, and Technical Training and Guidance to National FIVIMS Efforts

14. Specific FIVIMS technical assistance projects and project design activities have been launched in quite a number of countries in the past year. However, since that portion of the programme is still only reaching a minority of countries, the IAWG has decided to use a three part approach to reach the majority of developing countries. The three parts of the programme involve:


(a.) Development of a Global Food Security Database

15. There is general acceptance that a global FIVIMS database, containing a wide variety of national-level summary indicators and internet links to more detailed sub-national data, is a desirable inter-agency product of the FIVIMS initiative. Concepts involved in such a distributed global database project were proposed in CFS:98/4 and were then addressed by a specialised IAWG sub-group. Two areas of work have followed: (a) the development of the Key Indicators Database System (KIDS); and (b) support to a more limited collaborative inter-agency effort, the African Nutrition Database Initiative (ANDI).

16. KIDS, being developed by FAO/WAICENT and other IAWG partners, will be the approach used to develop the global database. It will provide an internationally comparable database of key indicators that can improve the ability of governments, civil society, international donors, and others to understand the causes of food insecurity and vulnerability, and prepare strategies and programmes to deal with these problems.

17. KIDS will be Internet-based but its architecture also will be distributed on CD-ROM (for areas with weak or no Internet connection). Countries or regional organisations will be able to set up their own version of KIDS if desired. These systems will be able to feed the Global KIDS, or act as a subset node within the KIDS network. KIDS will provide multi-language support, allowing each country to adapt the system for local usefulness. Guidance will soon be distributed on categories of indicators recommended for use.

18. ANDI: Various IAWG members (FAO, the World Bank, UNESCO, and UNICEF) have provided support to ANDI, which was developed in parallel to FIVIMS, with initial financial support from the Government of Italy and the World Bank. ANDI is made up of 26 or so indicators that are monitored annually, for countries in Sub-Saharan Africa only. Since mid-1999 this inter-agency database effort has been available on the internet at the address FAO is funding the updating of this database for the year 2000; the World Bank will assume these modest maintenance costs in 2001. KIDS will draw on lessons learned from this ANDI experience as it broadens coverage to include more agency partners, more indicator categories, and extends coverage to all developing countries.

(b.) Asia Regional FIVIMS

19. With trust fund support from the Government of Japan, FAO is implementing a regional FIVIMS project for Asia with objectives of (a) providing an overall assessment of food insecurity and vulnerability in Asia, and (b) serving as a primary input to the overall FIVIMS initiative. The project has compiled information related to FIVIMS and is assisting in the development of methodologies for the identification of vulnerable groups and areas, and the production of food insecurity and vulnerability maps for Asia.

20. The Asia KIDS web-based system will allow users to dynamically explore, query and present FIVIMS related information, to rapidly disseminate and share it with stakeholders via the Internet, as well as to assist in identifying factors leading to food insecurity and vulnerability. The Asia KIDS prototype will be demonstrated at the FAO Regional Conference for Asia and the Pacific to be held in Japan in August 2000 and participant reactions will assist further development of the system. The trust fund project has also contributed to the development of KIMS (Key Indicator Mapping System) through the provision of relevant data sets for Asia, technical advice on some of the modules developed, and financial support to the production of KIMS User Manual.

(c.) Development of other FIVIMS Software Products

21. Another of the FAO contributions is Key Indicators Mapping System (KIMS), to respond to the mapping dimension in FIVIMS. KIMS is designed to be a "map viewer", used for data-sharing and information retrieval. If the boundaries of any level of geographic unit have been mapped in a standard GIS format, KIMS can display data as maps, tables and graphs. It is an easy-to-use complement to more complex and expensive GIS systems. KIMS will be distributed free of charge to partners at national and international level. Its main purpose is to encourage greater use of mapping at all levels in the fight against food insecurity. KIMS training will be an important part of both regional sensitisation workshops and national FIVIMS "start-up" projects.

22. The final beta or test version of KIMS was released in April 2000. The testing phase is based on feedback from more than 1,000 beta testers, selected from 180 countries. The FAO Representatives in each country provided the KIMS programme and documentation to the FIVIMS national focal points and other key national partners. An electronic e-mail list was developed to keep users periodically updated on progress with software development.

(d.) Work on Improvement of the Estimates of the Number of Undernourished

23. Since the last meeting of the CFS, FAO has revised and up-dated the estimates of the prevalence of undernourished up to the period 1995-97 for inclusion in The State of Food Insecurity in the World, 1999 (SOFI 1999). A new method for estimating the inequality in the distribution parameter for countries not having the appropriate household survey data has been developed. As a consequence, all the previously used parameter values for each country have been revised. In addition estimates of the undernourished have been prepared for the first time for the Industrialised Countries and the Countries in Transition.

24. A further up-dating through the period 1996-98 is being undertaken in connection with SOFI 2000 expected to be released October. In this edition emphasis is being placed on the "Depth of Undernourishment", i.e. the food deficit per person of the undernourished population.

(e.) Selection of Core Indicators for Global FIVIMS

25. The IAWG-FIVIMS has repeatedly stressed that, since the main purpose of a national FIVIMS is to meet information needs of users within the country, selection of indicators to be monitored should be essentially a matter for each country to decide. To aid countries in making their selection, the IAWG has developed a menu of indicators from which to choose. These are organised in subject matter modules, based on the various structural factors that cause food insecurity and vulnerability, as presented in the flowchart contained in the Guidelines for National FIVIMS (CFS:98/5). This modular structure for organising data on relevant indicators will also be used in constructing the Key Indicators Database System (KIDS).

26. Nevertheless, it is recognised that a small set of core indicators need to be established as common to all national FIVIMS to facilitate cross-country comparisons when monitoring progress at global level. For this purpose, the IAWG will further refine a list of core indicators that will come primarily from two sources: (a) the set of outcome indicators established under the United National Development Assistance Framework (UNDAF) for use in preparing Common Country Assessments (CCA), supplemented by (b) selected additional indicators from the IAWG modular menu of indicators, mentioned above. This is further discussed in Section V. of CFS:00/05.


27. Inter-Agency co-operation on FIVIMS has continued to grow as reflected in (a) the participation of agencies in meetings and technical sub-groups of the IAWG; (b) the funding of FIVIMS start-up activities by different donors; and (c) the interest that has been expressed by other donors to participate in the programme.

28. During the course of the past year three developments have taken place which also provide illustration of the aspects of growing inter-agency collaboration around better information systems for food security:


29. In the past year and a half the small FIVIMS Secretariat at FAO was engaged in the following six areas of activity:


30. The great potential of FIVIMS is that it is a multi-agency programme that can be conducted collaboratively with countries. The reform process within the UN and Bretton Woods systems is beginning to give agency personnel more incentive to collaborate in information system work. The logical appeal of FIVIMS is strong, especially in an era of shrinking development assistance budgets. The following paragraphs highlight proposed work priorities for the coming year (mid-2000 to mid-2001) as presented in work plans approved by the IAWG4 meeting. Guidance from the CFS on these is sought.


31. This will remain the top priority in the FIVIMS programme. The following are priorities for assisting national programmes in the coming year:

32. In the FIVIMS pilot start-up and institutional strengthening work that will be conducted in more than a dozen countries in the coming year, IAWG will promote the expanded use of very focused, sub-national GIS mapping. IAWG will provide copies of the new KIMS software and training in its use at both national and sub-regional levels. Further, specific efforts will be made to ensure compatibility with other GIS software programmes being used by other international and national agencies.

33. In addition, the Inter-Agency working group has begun to explore options for encouraging different member organisations, in addition to FAO, to work together to share their technical knowledge in terms of additional technical guidelines, on topics such as the following:


34. In terms of the development of a distributed, inter-agency reference database on food insecurity and vulnerability, development work will focus on the following priority activities:

35. KIMS Open Source Development: By January 2001, the newest version of KIMS will be distributed using "open source development" agreements. This means that the software "source code" will be made available to anyone for use and further refinement. The only conditions for the user are: (a) that all new developments must be sent back to FAO for evaluation and possible use, and (b) none of the source code may be used as part of any system that is sold for profit. This approach should improve the KIMS mapping tool, thanks to modifications made by developers world-wide.

36. During 2001-2002 the Asia FIVIMS project will test and assess the usefulness of the Asia-KIDS for both national and sub-national level vulnerability analysis in selected countries in Asia, and examine its applicability to other regions (e.g., Africa, Latin America) in support of the overall FIVIMS initiative.

37. Methodology of estimation of the number of undernourished: Subject to the availability of funds, it is proposed to organise an International Scientific Conference on the Measurement and Assessment of Food Deprivation and Undernutrition in 2001. The purpose of the conference would be to engage leading scientists and practitioners in a systematic examination of the strengths and weakness of different approaches, and thereby propose improvements in the methodologies currently in use.


38. The biggest challenge continues to be raising the priority accorded to FIVIMS in agencies other than FAO. This takes continuing work at both the political leadership and technical levels within member agencies. Having the chair of the IAWG at UNDP should help substantially, as well as should the integration of FIVIMS into CCA/UNDAF activities at country level.


39. The IAWG FIVIMS Secretariat, despite some contributions from UNDP and WFP, has been primarily funded by FAO in its first year and a half. An important grant from the European Union, to become operational in July 2000, will provide a significant boost to its institutional capacity. In addition, the Secretariat, by the end of 2000, will prepare an assessment of what can be accomplished, in terms of meeting national requests for FIVIMS assistance, and what it would cost. This analysis will be then addressed to both IAWG members and potential donors.


40. The committee is invited to comment on (a) progress achieved by the FIVIMS initiative to date; (b) the IAWG's work priorities as expressed in Section IV of this report; (c) the level of FIVIMS assistance to countries it would like to see IAWG members provide; and (d) approaches for resource mobilisation to provide that level of support.


1  The 120 countries are the 98 developing countries, for which FAO has produced estimates of the number of undernourished persons reported in the 1999 State of Food Insecurity in the World, plus 22 additional developing countries (mostly small island states with populations under one million) for which we have information relevant to FIVIMS. An additional 20 or so countries in transition in Eastern Europe and Central Asia will be added to the tracking system in the future.

2  The recommended principles for establishing or strengthening national FIVIMS, approved by the 24th Session of CFS in 1998, are contained in CFS:98/5, Guidelines for National FIVIMS: Background and Principles.

3  APNFN is the Asia Pacific Network on Food and Nutrition and Red SISVAN is "Red de Cooperation Tecnica en Sistemas de Vigilancia Alimentaria y Nutricional ".