Statistics
 

Measuring food insecurity for policy guidance and evaluation: Open issues and possible solutions

CFS 40 side event: 9 October 2013, FAO Headquarters

This side event of the 40th Committee on World Food Security, was held to discuss how to improve the monitoring of food insecurity. Discussions focused on the use of:

• Composite indexes to summarize food security indicators included in the suite proposed in The State of Food Insecurity in the World (SOFI) 2013; and,
• Experience-based food insecurity scales, which FAO is piloting through the Voices of the Hungry project and is ready to launch at global, national and sub-national levels.

Developments underway in FAO in both these areas were presented to colleagues from various institutions around the world, including the Rome-based agencies, in order to gather their reactions, insights and constructive criticism. 

Experience-based food insecurity scales
FAO is building upon work that has been undertaken over the past twenty years in the United States and Canada, as well as in Latin America. Experiences of food insecurity are gathered through questions that can be posed to individuals through quick polls. Experience scales allow assessing the severity of food insecurity suffered by the surveyed population directly, rather than indirectly through either food purchases and consumption. FAO is currently developing the Food Insecurity Experience Scale (FIES) and pilot testing it in Angola, Ethiopia, Malawi and the Niger.

Food security composite indexes
FAO is following-up on the suite of food security indicators proposed in SOFI 2013. The idea is to summarize in an index the information conveyed by the multiple indicators of the suite. While considering multiple indicators in the suite of indicators is useful to guide policy making at country level, a summary index is useful to track overall progress over time, establish regional and international comparisons, benchmark progress of countries over time and vis-à-vis their peers, and guide evidence-based policy making.