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FAO and Indigenous peoples measure food insecurity

Indigenous peoples from Latin American and FAO experts discuss together hot to measure food insecurity in their communities

26/05/2015 - 

Representatives from different indigenous peoples (Aymara, Embera–Wounaan, Guaraní, Kichwa, K’iche, Macushi, Miskita, Náhuatl, Zapoteco) from Latin America shared during two days their knowledge about food security with FAO statisticians to develop new methods that could measure food insecurity in indigenous communities.

Indigenous Peoples, Food Security and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)

“17 objectives have already been defined in the Sustainable Development Goals. Along with eradicating hunger, additional targets for nutrition, biodiversity, water and equality are now listed, proving that the SDGs are more challenging than the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs),” said Myrna Cunningham Cain, a renowned indigenous Miskita leader from Nicaragua and former chair of the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues.

Debates on how future models of food production will satiate a world of 9000 million people by 2050, marks the urgency for collecting more disaggregated data that can give visibility to the specificities of particular groups.

"The Post-2015 Development Agenda is an opportunity for more disaggregated data on indigenous peoples, for us to be included" pointed out by Dalí Angel, a young Zapoteca woman from Mexico. “The challenge is to ensure universality of data but also recognizing the existence of differences and discrimination,” she added.

The need for adequate indicators

Indigenous peoples have drafted a list of indicators mainly related to their culture and ways of life, as well as to their insecure access to lands, territories and natural resources, which is the first obstacle to their food security.

These areas are especially important for indigenous peoples, as solutions for eradicating food insecurity may come from indigenous food systems for their high nutritional value based on varieties of wild crops and their ability to adapt to the environment.

“We know that when a culture or a language is lost, the food system is weakened. We know that when relations to resource tenure or access to natural systems deteriorate, that system weakens. We believe that when the base of crops and indigenous foods is lost, the system will eventually disappear. We must find solutions together,” stated Marcela Villarreal, Director of the FAO Office for Partnerships, Advocacy and Capacity Development during the opening remarks.

Voices of the Hungry

FAO statistics division engaged in a dialogue with the indigenous representatives that could bring solutions when measuring food insecurity in their communities.

The Food Insecurity Experience Scale (FIES) methodology and the Voices of the Hungry project were discussed for two days in order to seek ways of measuring the prevalence of undernourishment in indigenous remote areas.

“It is an experience-based measurement with eight questions that are topical to each indigenous community. The methodology is an easy-to-use tool for indigenous leaders to collect data from their own communities,” said Carlo Cafiero, Senior Statistician from FAO’s project on Voices of the Hungry.

Now certified in the methodology, the 14 indigenous participants will bring back practical skills to their communities, carrying out pilot surveys and collecting their own data for FAO to analyse and give back to them the findings.

“This will also support the collection of disaggregated data for national statistical services, and encourage them to work jointly with indigenous peoples for elaborating sound development policies,” said Professor Ana Maria Segall Correa, a keynote speaker for the workshop coming from UNICAMP Brazil.

“This is a good step forward, because it is a easily adaptable tool. Indigenous communities in Panama, Paraguay, Nicaragua and many others will be able to translate this methodology into their native languages and start the process to support indigenous peoples in the Latin America and Caribbean region,” said Faustina Sosima, a Guaraní leader from the Women network of Biodiversity in Latin America and the Caribbean, who participated in the training.

The way forward

FAO experts will support these indigenous communities in collecting their food insecurity data, which will allow them to compare results across their communities. The results are important for informing the final negotiations of the National Statistical Services in defining the indicators for the SDG goals.

FAO is organizing a similar training for the end of 2015 with indigenous representatives in Asia.


Related Links:

Voices of the Hungry Project – FIES Methodology

Proposal of indicators by the Indigenous Peoples major group

Related Documents:

FAO policy on indigenous and tribal peoples

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