Topic 3 – How to make the FSIN work for you?

03.09.2012 - 06.10.2012

Innovative multi-stakeholder food security information networks, such as the Technical Secretariat for Food Security and Nutrition (SETSAN) in Mozambique, the Institutional capacity development program on Food Security Information for Action in South Sudan (SIFSIA) and the Kenya Food Security Steering Group (KFSSG), have demonstrated how community food security information capacities can be mobilized and employed by governments to serve crisis prevention, response and food security policy. The 2009 FAO-WFP joint thematic evaluation on Information Systems for Food Security concluded that such multi-stakeholder networks are a successful and lower cost approach to more sustainable food security information capacity and institution building.

The community of practice that FSIN intends to construct will be built on national and regional level networks and platforms. FSIN will support national and regional level networks where they exist, or facilitate their establishment, where needed.

Through its website FSIN will bring together information from different global food and nutrition security information systems and initiatives. It will also provide links to national and regional level food and nutrition security information networks and platforms. Besides, the website will be a venue for discussion on relevant issues and sharing of best practices. Regular email newsletters will keep members informed of developments.

We would like you to respond in particular to the following questions:

  • Do you already belong to a food and nutrition security information network at country/regional levels? Which one(s)?
  • How do you think FSIN can best support existing food and nutrition security information networks at country and regional level?
  • Where they don’t exist yet, how can FSIN best facilitate the creation of national and regional level networks?
  • How can the FSIN website, and other communication means, support national and regional level networks? How should it coordinate with existing global initiatives?

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09/09/2012 - 11:53

Posted on behalf of: John Omiti, Kenya Institute of Public Policy Research, Kenya

This is an excellent and opportune moment to have such a network. There are many lessons from the 2008 and 2010 world food crises that we need to learn and draw lessons for various actors interested in (i) assisting policy makers to make timely and orderly responses to evolving food scarcities in different locations of the world depending on the circumstances (local and regional), (ii) safeguard the vulnerable members of our societies to access quality food in difficult situations, (iii) minimizing opportunistic behaviour by market intermediaries in times that portend crisis.

Will expect both  big and small players  (governments, traders, etc) to provide accurate and timely information to make the net work functional and relevant.


Ms. Caroline Kilembe Government, United Republic of Tanzania
09/08/2012 - 20:04

1.Do you support the overall thrust of the FSIN Initiative, and its priority areas of work? Do you agree with the strong focus on capacity development?
Yes I strongly support this initiative. Prioritizing the most vulnerable countries will enhance the world to attain its objective of ensuring sustainable food and (nutrition) security to everyone. Focus on capacity development will ensure a pool of expertise that in turn will have a wide but focused scope of addressing food insecurity in their countries/regional and the world at large.
2. Are you interested and ready to work together with other stakeholders to improve coordination and cooperation between various information systems and initiatives?
3. How can FSIN ensure a bottom up approach for building this global community of practice?
By ensuring that countries are having a standard format of reporting FSIN initiatives at country level and thus countries will be learning from each other and improve information gaps that they may be having.

Ms. Thida Chaw Hlaing Ministry of Agriculture and Irrigation, Myanmar
09/08/2012 - 16:42

Great welcome to FSIN. I have strong support and impression to FSIN that will bring all related issues of Global Food and Nutrition Security with multi-sectoral approaches. My advice to overall thrust of the FSIN Initiative is to be flexible as the way of approaches will differ based on the situation of the country. Some country suits with “Bottom-Up” but some works with “Top-Down” approaches. The most important thing is Coordination Mechanism should be strong enough to advice in the decision-making process, fill the gaps and support national and regional information systems for Food and Nutrition Security. Second is building up education programme about “What is Food and Nutrition Security and how important it is?” for Top-Down levels. I wish all the BEST to FSIN to help the people to stop hunger in the world. Thank you.

See the attachment: FSIN.pdf
Mr. David Obong'o FAO, Kenya
09/07/2012 - 13:52

I very much support this great initiative as this would go a long way in improving household food and nutrition security by providing the necessary information required to strengthen the timeliness and efficiency of emergency and development initiatives. The increasing complexity of emergency situations, and particularly in the Greater Horn of Africa, coupled with increased attention to effective use of resources for interventions makes the use of information and data necessary to ensure decision makers are well informed in planning appropriate responses.

Capacity development is crucial for the generation of accurate, timely and relevant data for food security and nutriion information. This would also ensure that we all speak one coherent language when making comparisons of results within and across countries/regions. Human and technological capacities need constant development to ensure we keep abreast with the complex and ever changing environment in which we live.

As a member of the regional Food Security and Nutrition Working Group (FSNWG) of the East and Central African region, I must point out the crucial role stakeholders play in food security and nutrition information systems. Different organizations bring on board key organizational strengths and resources, creating synergies which augment coordination and information systems.

To ensure a bottom up approach, I would suggest that extensive country-level stakeholder consultations are done as a guarantee that all views are taken into consideration. As there is no one-jacket-fits-all situation, contexual complexities must be considered in order to develop efficient and affective food and nutrition security information systems.

Mr. Duncan Samikwa SADC, Botswana
09/07/2012 - 11:35

I am pleased that we now have this forum to share our work and ideas. Thank you.

Mr. Thijs Wissink FAO, Thailand
09/07/2012 - 08:21

Dear participants,

Our online stakeholder consultation on the global Food Security Information Network (FSIN) starts off with four contributions coming from South Africa, USA, Sudan and Tanzania.
Of course we hope to receive many more contributions, so don’t hesitate to post your comments on the first week’s topic: Do you support the idea of a Food Security Information Network (FSIN)? What are your expectations? Participants working for governments, regional organizations and other country and regional level organizations are particularly encouraged to react. FSIN is being set up primarily for you, so we want to make sure it tailors your needs and expectations.
For the first week of this online stakeholder consultation, we would like you to respond in particular to the following questions:

• Do you support the overall thrust of the FSIN Initiative, and its priority areas of work? Do you agree with the strong focus on capacity development?

• Are you interested and ready to work together with other stakeholders to improve coordination and cooperation between various information systems and initiatives?

• How can FSIN ensure a bottom up approach for building this global community of practice?

• What needs to be done to mobilize additional partners and resources? Which public/private donors should be approached in particular?

Please read the full topic and related background material on the website, also available in French and Spanish; contributions in any of these languages are welcome. On the website you will also be able to find the Brochure and Concept Note of FSIN, with more detailed information on the proposed set-up of FSIN.

Thijs Wissink, Facilitator

Dr. Vedasto Rutachokozibwa FAO, United Republic of Tanzania
09/06/2012 - 12:34

I strongly support the initiative on the food security information network. In order to attain the goal for achieving adequate food (and nutrition) security for all, at all times as spelt out in the 1996 World Food Summit, decision makers need to be provided with timely, accurate and consistent evidence-based information and recommendation for appropriate responses/ interventions. Decisions made to address food (and nutrition) security issues at the national (and sub-national) level, have strong influence at both regional and international levels on many accounts including the welfare of the populations. Therefore, there is need for providing information that will meet the needs (demand driven) for a wide range of decision making. Nevertheless, addressing the food (and nutrition) security needs require, many players through a multi-sectoral approach but many information systems are fragment and uncoordinated. Furthermore, with reduced global resources, there is need for information providers teaming-up to make the best use of the resources available for producing consistent and standard information; and I think that this network is a milestone for improving coordination and cooperation among different information systems and initiatives.
As we build and strengthen the network, we should consider capacity development at all levels as a catalyst and cornerstone. In order to walk the “right to food” talk as a basic human entitlement, there is need for collective accountability including food governance among information providers, and users and decisions makers. Information providers require their capacities developed (training, facilities and other support) to enable them produce demand-driven and evidence-based information using standard procedures or in the Integrated Phase classification (IPC) language a “Common Currency”. Advocacy including sensitization and awareness creation for decision makers (high level, in particular) will likely influence their political will and commitment for positive responses, such as allocation of adequate resources for the management of information systems and making policy changes such as trade restrictions. The public and the private sector capacity development would inform them of their roles as key players in the food and nutrition security arena. All these efforts will likely facilitate linking information to action.
To make this to happen, investments in strengthening harmonized national (and sub-national) food (and nutrition) security information systems will be key as will likely increase local commitment and ownership. The spillover of stronger national information systems will make better regional and international coordination. However, most national and in particular, the food and nutrition insecure vulnerable countries do not have sufficient resource and at times, adequate skills to establish and or invest in improving information systems. Therefore, this facility (food security information network ) is anticipated to be the global focal point for resource mobilization, setting standards for information management, as well as, promoting sustainable capacity development.
My last contribution is that, taking into consideration the ongoing global movement for scaling-up nutrition (SUN), which includes integrating agriculture, food security and nutrition and other policy and changes, this initiative should aim staying above the curve by renaming current food security information network (FSIN) to “food and nutrition security information network (FNSIN)”.

Dr. Elijah Mukhala FAO, Sudan
09/05/2012 - 13:30

Dear colleagues, the idea of a food security information network is very much welcome infact its long overdue considering that institutions have been involved in food security information for many years. Considering that there have been a few meetings and workshops already held on FSIN, I am hoping the issues that I may bring up have been already discussed. My expections with regard to FSIN is that there will be a thrust towards standard methods of data collection for food security analysis. I expect that FSIN will take the lead in capacity building in food security analysis so that food security can be analysed in totality. We all know that the conceptutal framework of food security has four pillar, to what extent is the data we are collecting within the 4 pillars to allow us to do a comprehensive food security analysis? We need to cover all the four pillars in the conceptual framework. With the standardization of methodologies that I expect from FSIN, it will make data exchange across countries much easier as data can be used cross boarders for food security. The right direction has already been started with the Integrated Phase classification (IPC) where a single food security map is produced for the entire IGAD region. I expect that this may be a reality even in other RECs around Africa. I also expect that FSIN will assist countries in establishing food security databases that can be shared with other countries or indeed at Global level to undertake a global food security analysis. I also expect that FSIN will take the lead in bringing together all the major players in food security so that we are able to share datasets for food security, here i have in mind FAO, WFP, FEWSNet etc

Roy Stacy USAID, United States of America
09/05/2012 - 10:35

I am very pleased to comment on this very welcome initiative. For too long at-risk countries have relied on international sources of food security information, sources often poorly linked to local problems or to national decision making processes. For almost two decades, donors have invested in information systems for international agencies to build their capacities for humanitarian and emergency response. A poor but perhaps necessary choice of priorities.
Over the same time period, very little was invested by donors, or the at-risk countries themselves, to build local information capacities for more preferable outcomes, food crisis anticipation, prevention and management.
The FSIN initiative aims to change this and to give much greater priority to country and regional capacity building and the effective linking of those new capacities to local policy making. The promise of greater sustainability is made through the encouragement of a community of practice, food security information professionals inside governments as well as non-state actors outside, all interfacing through local and region wide networks. It is a novel idea and worthy of support given the emphasis on standards and professionalism. I am looking forward to seeing the comments of others involved in the consultation.

Roy Stacy

Mr. Tinashe Chavhunduka University of Pretoria, South Africa
09/04/2012 - 07:09

Since the advent of globalisation all nations live in a global village now and it is imperative that information be shared and help in world capacity development to feed the hungry. I therefore think it is a noble idea to have such a network to help empower regions with information.