Re: Topic 2 - What are the information gaps and related capacity gaps?

Dr. Vedasto Rutachokozibwa FAO, United Republic of Tanzania
09/25/2012 - 09:17

My contribution to this topic is on gaps related to data capturing, data analysis and communication of information on food and nutrition security.


Data capturing gaps: This constitutes a) weak data management processes in the collection, keeping/storage and access at national and sub-national levels; b) lack of standardized tools and instruments for collecting quantitative data (volume/weight), in particular but also in qualitative data. In other instances, formalities to access data and information (the so called official data) are too bureaucratic and cumbersome, making it difficult to access data timely. These circumstances lead to incomplete datasets to support rigorous data capturing and analysis. Furthermore, methodologies for capturing data and analysis for urban food and nutrition security situations are not well developed and known by many analysts.


In addition, even for those captured data, there is often failure and/or delays to systematically transfer them from source to higher levels; and associated with data aggregation at each higher level (may be due to high transportation costs or other logistical problems), create gaps in data availability for analysis at the time when required. Consequently, there is loss of useful details required for a detailed geographic understanding. This may affect making appropriate intervention decisions where needed. Improved technologies such GPS, PDAs SMSs as well as training in their use, would improve data collection and reduce delays.


There is need for 1) developing standardized data collection tools and instruments for data collection; 2) support countries, institutions to develop protocols for sharing data and information; and 3) provide additional technical and financial support to facilitate the collection and transfer of data from sources for analysis.


Data Analysis gaps: In some instances, data are collected and reported raw with no analytical value addition to support decision making for planning and development. In addition, there is tendency for using a narrow analytical framework focusing on, for example, a few indicators such as food availability, and even so, focusing on key staples and ignoring significant other source such as indigenous foods and minor crops, livestock and fisheries products, issues of food access (including income sources, consumer price indices, and purchasing power), utilization-nutrition (key actions or intervention on nutrition), and stability (livelihood systems). Furthermore, addressing vulnerability to food insecurity and malnutrition requires an integrated multi-sectoral approach, which most analysts do not often consider; or sometimes they are forced to ignore it in order to service their institutional mandates, demand and/ or results. There is need for strengthening multi-sectoral institutional analysis capacities in terms of skill development and provision of analytical tools such as those from the Integrated Food Security Phase Classification (IPC).


Information communication gaps: The purpose of generating food and nutrition security reports is for meeting the needs of decision makers to respond appropriately. Often, reports generated provide exceedingly detailed descriptions and normative/academic related information and fail to provide relevant conclusions to inform decision making. There is need for developing communication and presentation skills to facilitate production of audience-tailor information.


Overall, there is need for establishing standard guidelines and protocols to collect, process, analyze, interpret, write and communicate demand-driven food and nutrition security information/reports.