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22.11.2010 - 19.12.2010

Improving the Quality and Impact of Food Security Programming in Emergencies: The role of Food Security and Nutrition Response Analysis

Responses to food insecurity and malnutrition in emergencies have expanded dramatically in the past 5-10 years. The needs assessment process has improved the evidence base for interventions and donors have been willing to fund new alternatives to both general food distribution and targeted feeding programs. However, the analytical process required to make intelligent choices among these new options has not always kept up. This analytical process has come to be called “response analysis” and is about determining the best response to address needs, while having the least possibility of causing damage to markets or livelihoods.

This On-Line Forum discussion is designed to encourage debate on three core themes in the field of response analysis. The objective of the debate is to gain further clarity on some critical questions which determine the role that response analysis can play in improving the quality and impact of food security programming in emergencies.

The On-Line Forum is one of the activities being supported by an ECHO-funded and FAO managed project entitled “Developing a Response Analysis Framework for Food Security Emergencies”. The information exchanged and the debate generated by the Forum will serve to improve and sharpen the draft framework and create a platform for strengthened collaboration in this field.

The discussion is designed around three themes as follows:

Theme A – A general theme which asks some of the “big questions” about response analysis:

  1. How does Response Analysis fit into the Programme Cycle?
  2. What kind of information is required, and when is it required?
  3. Will improved response analysis be enough to improve the quality of programming?

Please access the background paper here. If you are interested in contributing to this discussion stream, please read the paper and respond to one or more of the three questions listed above.

Theme B – This theme is designed to focus attention on the question of why is there not more focus on food and livelihood based routes and approaches to nutrition in emergencies.
This points to weaknesses in response analysis and raises several questions:

  1. Why are food security actors not taking their responsibility for nutrition seriously? What needs to change?  How can the current gaps in response be identified and who should take responsibility for each one?
  2. What are the institutional arrangements needed to ensure that nutrition and food security actors work together both within and between organisations? Are there changes in the architecture that are needed?
  3. This is not the first time that these issues have been raised. There have even been previous discussions on this topic on the FAO on-line forums. So, what do we need to do to ensure that this forum doesn't generate some good ideas – which are repeated two or three years from now in another forum? How can we ensure that the good ideas and any emerging consensus actually get implemented?

Please access the background paper here. If you are interested in contributing to this discussion stream, please read the paper and respond to one or more of the three questions listed above.

Theme C
- Finally, a theme which focuses on the Response Analysis Framework (RAF) which is under development by FAO with ECHO funding.

On-Line Forum participants are asked to address one or more of the following questions:

  1. How would you see the RAF being applied in processes that you are or have been involved with? Do you think it would add value? If so why and if not, why not?
  2. To what extent do food security assessments and analysis normally cover the issues relevant to response analysis (see table 1 above for guidance). Where are the gaps, what are the reasons for the gaps and what can be done to address these?
  3. At what point should response analysis stop and response planning begin? As described in the background paper, does the RAF stray too far into detailed response planning questions, or put another way: in order to reach conclusions on the different criteria in the RAM, is it in fact necessary to know the detailed response planning questions first?
  4. What are the key criteria which should be used to determine the appropriateness and feasibility of response options?

A background paper on the RAF can be acessed by clicking here. Please read the paper and respond directly to one or more of the above questions.

Thank you very much!

Neil Marsland (FAO), Suleiman Mohammed (FAO), Maarten Immink (FAO), Valerie Ceylon (WFP), Nisar Majid, Daniel Maxwell (Tufts University), Charlotte Dufour (FAO), Claire Chastre (EC), Simon Levine (ODI), Sarah Bailey (ODI), Nick Maunder (ECHO)

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