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Food security in mountains

A current analysis of hunger in mountainous areas

·         Between 2012 and 2017, rural mountain peoples in developing countries became more vulnerable to food insecurity. In 2012, roughly 300 million rural mountain people in developing countries were vulnerable to food insecurity. By 2017, after only five years, this number steeply increased to roughly 340 million.

·         More than ninety percent of the world’s mountain dwellers live in developing countries, including 634 million people living in rural areas where a vast majority live below the poverty line and more than 1 in 2 face the threat of food insecurity.

·       These alarming statistics give voice to the plight of mountain peoples. They send a clear message to policy-makers on the importance of including mountains in their development agendas that should focus on alleviating the harsh living conditions of mountain communities and reducing the outmigration from mountain areas.


The FAO 2015 Mountain Vulnerability Model

The model estimates the availability of calories in rural mountain regions, considering the production rate of agricultural areas as an average of the yields of six main mountain crops (beans, cassava, maize, potatoes, rice and wheat). It also includes information on food quality by estimating the availability of proteins from beef meat, cow milk, sheep meat, sheep milk, goat meat, goat milk, pig meat, chicken meat and eggs. People having access to less than 1 370 kcal and 14 g of animal protein per day are considered to be at risk of food insecurity as those thresholds are taken as survival requirements in the event that other foods are not available. 


Household surveys: another tool to measure hunger

Household surveys allow for a more integrated assessment of vulnerability to food insecurity as they encompass a wide range of factors like water quality, sanitation facilities and road networks, in addition to crop and livestock availability. Thanks to the information on the vital statistics of the sample, it is possible to estimate the vulnerability to food insecurity by gender, age, education and much more. Household surveys allow also the precise localization of vulnerability hot spots, which, in turn, can facilitate the targeting of policy interventions.

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