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Topic: Measurement / Assessment

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Rapid Appraisal methods for the assessments, design, and evaluation of food security programs

Project managers in charge of implementing activities that address food security problems need tools to (1) identify the populations that are food insecure, (2) design interventions that address the causes of food insecurity, and (3) evaluate the impact of their interventions on the food security status of project beneficiaries. This guide illustrates how Rapid Appraisal (RA) methods can provide useful insights to the research and design of food security interventions, as well as their limitations. The degree of precision required, the characteristics of the population being investigated, the ability of fieldworkers, all of these and other aspects determine whether RA methods are appropriate in any given case. The first section of this paper presents general considerations on the advantages and disadvantages of RA methods over survey-based methods. The second section presents a set of RA tools that were tested in the field to fulfill the objectives stated above. The tools developed include community mapping, household food security ranking, conceptual mapping of food sources, seasonal food security time lines, and evaluation of intervention’s impact on food security. Each instrument is presented in a similar sequence: first, a brief introduction presents the instrument and its relevance to the study of food security; second, the tool is described in terms of its specific objectives, format, methods, and products expected. Third, examples from fieldwork experimentations are provided to illustrate its use. Additional information and key references on the procedure are added in appendixes to the

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Food Security in Southern Africa-Assessing the use of ENSO information

By Glantz, Betsill and Crandall, Environmental and Societal Impacts Group (ESIG). Information about El Niño-Southern Oscillation (ENSO) events potentially has much to offer in alleviating the impact of drought and improving food security in drought-prone countries. Advanced warning of ENSO and "teleconnected" drought could allow for flexible agricultural production practices, strategic management of grain and water reserves, minimal budgetary impacts, and effective management of donor relief. This study reviews the actual as well as potential use of ENSO information during the 1991-92 drought in Southern Africa. Using the case-scenario method, this study assesses the use of ENSO information during the drought situation and then considers how the national, regional and international responses to the drought might have been different had ENSO information been widely available to decision makers in March 1991. A set of possible responses is identified based on information obtained from open-ended questionnaires and interviews that, in theory, could have been taken with earlier information. Political, social, and economic constraints to the actual use of this information are also identified, which enables us to distinguish between the theoretical and actual value of ENSO information in this particular drought situation. In the final chapter, we note that many lessons were learned from the 1991/92 drought in Southern Africa which have enhanced the potential utility of ENSO information for food security in the region. Nevertheless, potential users still face obstacles in their ability to use ENSO information in decision making. These include questions about the reliability of forecasts, delays in the timing of forecasts, a lack of understanding of what the forecasts mean, as well as concerns about the utility of regional-scale forecasts for local level decision making.