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(Item 7 of the Agenda)

55. The document APCAS/98/6 “Food Insecurity and Vulnerability Information and Mapping System (FIVIMS)” was presented to the Commission by the Director, Statistics Division, FAO, Rome. The Commission was informed of the World Food Summit (WFS) Plan of Action which stated that governments would:

“develop and periodically up-date, where necessary, a national Food Insecurity and Vulnerability Information and Mapping System (FIVIMS) indicating areas and populations, including at the local level, affected by or at risk of hunger and malnutrition, and elements contributing to food insecurity, making maximum use of existing data and information systems in order to avoid duplication of efforts”.
56. The Plan of Action also called on FAO to play a catalytic role, within the UN family, for the further elaboration and definition of the System and for its development in a coordinated manner.

57. Among the initial actions undertaken by FAO were: (i) the establishment of an interagency mechanism, at the technical level, to oversee the development of FIVIMS internationally and to ensure the necessary collaboration and coordination of all FIVIMS related efforts; (ii) the designation of country focal points for all matters related to FIVIMS; and (iii) the preparation of guidelines for national FIVIMS.

58. The Commission was given an overview of the considerations made so far regarding the development of FIVIMS which included: (i) the problems to be addressed in developing national FIVIMS; (ii) the current state of national information systems related to FIVIMS; (iii) the goals, purposes and objectives at the national level; (iv) the expected benefits and main users of national FIVIMS; and (v) the tasks ahead at the international level.

59. The Commission was informed that food insecurity was a complex phenomenon attributable to a range of factors that, over time, varied in importance across regions, countries and social groups. Policies aimed at promoting food security, if they were to be effective, required accurate and timely information on the incidence, nature and causes of food insecurity and vulnerability. It was reported that most countries had established statistical services and information systems that generate and analyse such information. These national systems were, however, constrained by a number of related factors such as lack of political commitment and institutional, technical and financial constraints.

60. The Commission was informed of the categories of possible national information systems related to FIVIMS. These were: agricultural information systems; health information systems; land, water and climatic information systems; early warning systems; household food security and nutrition information systems; market information systems; and vulnerability assessment and mapping systems. However, although a number of national information systems had already been established around the world or were in the process of being developed, they varied widely in the following aspects: the number of systems established, their content, how well they are integrated, their geographic coverage, the indicators and analytical techniques used, the quality and reliability of the information produced, and their institutional sustainability.

61. The Commission was further informed that there could be no single formula for strengthening national food insecurity and vulnerability information systems. Each case must be considered individually to determine its unique set of objectives, particular constraints and specific needs.

62. The Commission noted that the FIVIMS work programme at the international level included the provision of support to countries in the following areas: (i) national workshops to stimulate awareness of, and interest in FIVIMS; (ii) inventory of national information systems with specific relevance for FIVIMS; (iii) regional and sub-regional training and the sharing of national experiences in the development and use of FIVIMS-related information systems; (iv) methodological guidelines on specific technical issues of particular interest to countries experiencing different food security situations; and (v) design and implementation of pilot FIVIMS activities.

63. The Commission was pleased to learn that, in supporting countries, FAO would place emphasis on strengthening the existing information systems rather than creating new ones.

64. The Commission recommended that the selection of indicators for FIVIMS at the country level should be guided by the specific causes of food insecurity and vulnerability (e.g. caused by market instability or crop failure) in the respective countries/regions. The Commission also emphasized the need to formulate a minimum set of indicators for FIVIMS at the global level.

65. At the Working Session organised on FIVIMS the delegates present were given illustrations of the kind of data/indicators (including the respective sources) that would be required for FIVIMS and the related statistical issues. Particular emphasis was placed on the methodology for estimating the number of undernourished and the use of data from food balance sheets as well as household income/expenditure surveys.

66. The delegates welcomed the plans of the Statistics Division, FAO to promote the use of data from existing household income/expenditure surveys for estimating the prevalence of undernutrition. The promotion would be done through the organisation of regional/sub-regional seminars/workshops.

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