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Measuring food and nutrition security: what has been your experience?

Dear Forum Members,

This online discussion will focus on the measurement of food and nutrition security, an activity at the core of understanding the magnitude of, and trends in, the problem of food and nutrition insecurity. This important topic was explored 10 years ago at the International Scientific Symposium on Measurement and Assesment of Food Deprivation and Undernutrition (2002). Soon FAO will be holding a follow up event titled: International Scientific Symposium on Food and Nutrition Security Information: from valid measurement to effective decision-making which will be held at FAO Headquarters in Rome from the 17-19th of January, 2012, and will focus on linking information to action. To learn more about this event click here. Your valuable contributions during this online forum will be used to help guide the discussion during this upcoming Symposium.

One of the themes of the upcoming Symposium will focus on recent advances in measuring food and nutrition security. Therefore, we would like to discuss food and nutrition security indicators with you in order to learn from your experience applying such indicators and to better understand which indicators the food and nutrition security community find useful (or not) and why. More specifically, we would like to learn what drives your choice of indicators and how does this choice affect your work. Furthermore, we would like to highlight the successes and challenges of working with these indicators and what you have done to overcome their limitations.

The questions

  • Which food and nutrition security indicators do you most commonly use in your work? Why?
  • How do you use these indicators in your work? (e.g. for targeting, monitoring, evaluation etc.)
  • Do you ever create new or modified indicators for food and nutrition security analysis for your operational purposes? If yes, please describe.
  • What are some of the challenges that you have faced using food and nutrition security indicators? How have you overcome these limitations?

We are very pleased to be holding this forum discussion with you and look forward to hearing your feedback on these questions. A brief word about ourselves: we are both working on issues directly related to food and nutrition security. Jennifer Coates is an Assistant Professor in the Food Policy and Applied Nutrition Program at Tufts Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy (Boston, USA) and Winnie Bell is a Food Security Analyst and Researcher at Food and Agriculture Organization (Rome, Italy). We look forward to our exchange over these coming weeks and hope for a fruitful and dynamic discussion while learning about your experiences and perspectives on food and nutrition security measurement.

Best wishes,
Jennifer Coates and Winnie Bell

Food and Nutrition Security Indicators
In many analyses of food security conditions in developing countries, multiple indicators can be used to reflect the various dimensions of the problem. Examples of indicators used to assess food and nutrition security conditions, include:

  • Food production
  • Income
  • Dietary diversity
  • Total expenditure
  • Food expenditure
  • Share of expenditure on food
  • Quantitative measures of intake in terms of energy, macronutrients and micronutrients
  • Nutritional status measures

This discussion is now closed. Please contact fsn-moderator@fao.org for any further information.