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SDG monitoring

The FIES in the context of the Sustainable Development Agenda  

In March 2016, the UN Statistical Commission endorsed the proposal made by the Inter Agency and Expert Group on SDG indicators (IAEG-SDG) to use the Prevalence of moderate or severe food insecurity in the population, based on the Food Insecurity Experience Scale (FIES) as an indicator for Target 2.1 of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. The SDG monitoring framework was officially adopted by the UN General Assembly on July 6, 2017. FIES-based indicators will serve to track global, regional and national changes in food insecurity, providing information for international and national-level policy making.  

Interpreting FIES-based indicators

Two FIES-based indicators can be used for national and global monitoring purposes. Note that the first indicator is an estimate of the sum of the moderately food insecure and the severely food insecure segments of the population.

FImod+sev The proportion of the population experiencing moderate to severe food insecurity
FIsev The proportion of the population experiencing severe food insecurity

People experiencing moderate levels of food insecurity will typically eat low quality diets and might have been forced, at times during the year, to also reduce the quantity of food they would normally eat, while those experiencing severe levels would have gone for entire days without eating, due to lack of money or other resources to obtain food. We expect the prevalence of severe food insecurity to be highly correlated, across countries, with the Prevalence of Undernourishment.

For the second time, The State of Food Security and Nutrition in the World 2018 publishes an indicator of severe food insecurity, based on the FIES. This measure approximates FAO’s traditional indicator of hunger, the Prevalence of Undernourishment, as both indicators reflect the extent of severe food deprivation; however, they are based on different sources of data and methodologies. The FIES estimates are more up-to-date, with the latest observed estimates available for 2017, while the PoU is derived from data typically available only after a delay of several years.

Given that few countries to date have collected FIES data in national surveys at this point in time, FAO has produced provisional baseline country estimates for more than 140 countries using data commissioned to be collected through the Gallup® World Poll. As the UN Statistical Commission determined that, when sources other than official national statistics are used for SDG monitoring, they will be reviewed and agreed by national statistical authorities and presented in a transparent manner (UNSC48/101/l), FAO conducted a consultation to request approval from national statistics offices to publish the estimates for their country. Only national estimates for those countries that gave their approval prior to publication are presented in this report. 

While several countries have used experience-based food security scales to monitor their national food security over recent decades, the development of a global version of such a tool marks the beginning of a new era. The FIES is being adopted by an increasing number of countries, as they recognize its numerous advantages: simplicity, reliability, and the ability to produce results that speak to people and can effect change. The ideal source of FIES data is well established, regularly administered national surveys. This map shows countries in different stages of adopting the FIES, with the goal of being able to report on SDG indicator 2.1.2 as well as use their results to inform national food security policy.