Twenty-ninth Session

Rome, 12 – 16 May 2003


Table of Contents


1. This is the fourth annual progress report on the development of FIVIMS since these reports were requested by the CFS at its 25th session in 1999. Where new events and circumstances have affected the future directions to be taken in FIVIMS work, this is noted in the relevant paragraphs. This report should be read in conjunction with the document “Information note on the Status of FIVIMS at Country Level: CFS:2003/Inf.11”.


2. The Inter-Agency Working Group (IAWG) Secretariat and individual IAWG member organisations continue to provide substantial support to country-level activities, either to assess the current state of national information systems, and/or to assist in strengthening national institutional capacity so that national and international safety net and development programmes can more effectively assist food insecure and vulnerable population groups. Developments since the last progress report are highlighted below.


3. Since the inception of FIVIMS in 1997, FAO has devoted substantial regular programme and trust fund resources to support research on best practices for development of information and mapping systems to help guide improved actions for sustainable development, poverty alleviation and hunger reduction. During the past year this is illustrated by the following:

4. In a continuation to last year's CFS report, UNICEF has supported further implementation of Childinfo with Eastern and Southern Africa and South Asia ahead of other regions in implementation. All other regions with the exception of CEE/CIS have started the roll out process. In total, about 80 countries are at different stages of developing and using Childinfo. Over 40 countries have developed a Childinfo database. Some countries are using customised versions such as Devinfo (India), Infolac (Brasil) and Beninfo (Benin). In many cases, Governments are involved in the process with UN agencies and data collected for ChildInfo is being used for monitoring of MDG and WFFC goal indicators. Childinfo is increasingly being used as a resource in UN Common Country Assessments.

5. The World Bank now chairs the IAWG on FIVIMS, following six months under UNICEF, and chairs the Steering Committee for the FIVIMS External Assessment (refer paragraph 24) and hopes to further strengthen links between the FIVIMS Secretariat, the IAWG-FIVIMS Executive members and FAO as the FIVIMS Secretariat host Organisation.

6. In 2003, the World Bank, as a FIVIMS contribution, will sponsor "Workshop on Global Poverty Mapping: Strategies for Moving Forward. The workshop will discuss the strengths and weaknesses of the current major approaches to poverty mapping at the national level followed by small group discussions on poverty mapping methods, different poverty indicators, various types of applications, and institutional issues. The workshop will produce a coherent strategy document for wide circulation. It is hoped that the workshop will help set priorities among strategies, to set realistic short-term and long-term goals, and to clarify a shared vision of what needs to be achieved and how it will be useful.

7. Vulnerability Analysis and Mapping (VAM), a decentralized WFP technical support unit, continued in 2002 to consolidate the Standard Analytical Framework (SAF) for Food Security Monitoring and Vulnerability Analysis. VAM continues to contribute to FIVIMS in the countries where it is currently working. Building on experience gained from the pilot SAF studies undertaken in 2001, VAM is now expanding to cover other countries.

8. VAM provided the necessary analysis to support the WFP emergency operation in Afghanistan, Western Sahel, Guatemala and 17 other countries. It also played an important role in the coordination of the needs assessment for the food crisis in Southern Africa and supported establishment of the Regional Vulnerability Assessment Committee (RVAC), as well as National Vulnerability Assessment Committees (NVAC) in Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, Swaziland, Zambia and Zimbabwe. RVAC and the NVACs conducted multi-agency and multi-sectoral vulnerability assessments in July-August and November-December 2002. VAM contributed to the establishment of a national FIVIMS in Bangladesh and a similar structure in Angola. In Myanmar the FIVIMS has developed a vulnerability map at township level. In North Korea, VAM and FAO undertook a household food economy study in July 2002, which resulted in improving WFP targeting, from geographic to socio-economic targeting. VAM has provided inputs to the CCA/UNDAF process in Laos, Angola, Uganda, North Korea, Mauritania, Bolivia, Peru and Kenya.

9. In 2002 VAM units supported government capacity building in food security assessments, through provision of training, equipment, conduction of joint-assessments, development of Early Warning Systems (EWS), vulnerability monitoring systems, contingency plans, and disaster management policies and structures. In Sudan the VAM unit helped develop and install within the government an Agro-meteorological Monitoring System, to monitor rainfall and vegetation growth using satellite images. In Indonesia, FIVIMS and VAM work with the government’s Food Security Agency, and have now been requested to support the development of a Food Insecurity Atlas of Indonesia. In Rwanda, Kenya, Burundi and Bangladesh VAM has in 2002 assisted the governments’ in the development of Early Warning systems. In Kenya, VAM is working with the government and FEWSNET on the development of Livelihood Zoning and food security analysis techniques. In Bangladesh VAM has developed a system for mapping of river water level during the monsoon season, which has been adopted by the government.

10. A major undertaking of VAM in 2002 has been the initiation of a project with UNGIWG, including FAO and WHO, to develop standardised Geographic Information management tools. Once this is completed it will improve the analysis and sharing of food security information globally. The system is about to be installed in VAM units around the world, under the name VAM Spatial Information Environment (VAM-SIE). The standardized but decentralized spatial information management environment will enable WFP Country Offices and Regional Bureaux to access geo-referenced food security databases and cartographic products from a variety of sources. At the same time, SIE tools will assist these offices to organize and share the spatial information they already have, and to provide up to the minute food security analysis to the rest of the community in near-real time.

11. At country level, WHO, as a member of the UN Country Team, continues to contribute to UN thematic approach on food security (especially under UNDAF, CDF and poverty alleviation framework). More specifically WHO technically support the development of food security initiatives, especially related to the most vulnerable population groups. During 2002, financial support from WHO funded the participation of several country representatives in the sixth IAWG-FIVIMS meeting held in Nicaragua, as well as the production of the FIVIMS tools and tips technical booklets to support the development of national FIVIMS. These complemented the FIVIMS Maps and Posters sets produced in the previous reporting period. In addition, WHO supported a number of countries, in particular in Africa, in their efforts to strengthen national food and nutrition plans and policies which incorporate FIVIMS.


12. As reported in this and previous CFS reports, most normative efforts undertaken by IAWG members to develop improved approaches to the identification and characterisation of food insecure and vulnerable populations involve substantial use of pilot work at country level. In some cases, these efforts at methodology development also are accompanied by some investment in the simultaneous development of a national FIVIMS-type organisation (although not necessarily called “FIVIMS”).

13. FIVIMS work at country level involves a series of discrete activities embedded in a longer-term framework that concentrates on the benefits from having better information and mapping systems. This information system needs to be designed with the needs of the end users, the policy makers and resource managers at all levels, clearly in mind. To this end, FIVIMS approaches at country level are increasingly recommending starting with an assessment of the needs of information users, sometimes through a national information user-producer workshop, which serves to build interest and ownership amongst the potential audience of the information system while at the same time ensuring relevance of both the information generated and how and when it is reported. As stated before, the creation of a high quality national information system is a long term investment of time, money and human resources. As there is no one right development path to follow; the information systems relevant to each country’s needs will differ as well. This is illustrated in the remaining paragraphs of this section.

14. Support for the establishment of a pilot FIVIMS project in India has been prepared and is expected to start in 2003. The pilot project will assist in monitoring and analysing food insecurity and vulnerability in two selected states.

15. In Namibia, an FAO mission was fielded to support activities related to information systems and reporting under the project “Support to Food Security and Nutrition Development in Namibia”. This is funded by the Namibian Government. Guidance was provided to Ministry officials and consultants on preparation of information systems to support their national FIVIMS. FIVIMS in Namibia has now published a website with maps, data and other images, which was also delivered on CD-ROM to all food security officers involved in the national FIVIMS initiative.

16. A series of workshops to build Food Security Information Systems capacity in Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia and Kyrgyzstan to carry out and present food security analysis took place in 2002. Training includes data management, food and nutrition security analysis, crop forecasting, the construction of food balances and their use as an analytical tool. In addition, the national household budget survey has been analysed with a view to obtaining the maximum amount of food and nutrition security information and indicators.

17. There is a great opportunity to integrate FIVIMS objectives of food insecure populations within the annual collection of agricultural statistics and the periodic conduct of national censuses of agriculture. The first census of agriculture for The People’s Republic of China conducted in 1997 with financial support from the Government of Italy and technical assistance from FAO. The exploitation of this rich data source to address key national policy issues was the focus of the "November 2001International Workshop on the Analysis of the First Chinese Agricultural Census Results: Establishing a National FIVIMS. The workshop was coordinated by the MOA, NBS and FAO. A number of documents were presented and discussed during the workshop, attended by 53 participants, including 34 from the host country and 18 International Experts. A proceeding with proposal for implementing the recommendations of this workshop has been published.

18. At the request of the Government of Yemen, FAO , under its Technical Co-operation Programme, is implementing a project to support the Establishment of a National Food Insecurity and Vulnerability Information and Mapping Systems in Yemen. The operation of the project commenced in mid -April 2002, and is being implemented in collaboration with the Central Statistics Office and the Department of Statistics of the Ministry of agriculture.

19. In Kenya, the EC funded FIVIMS project supported a pilot application of a modified version of the Household Food Economy Approach in two semi-arid districts in association with an FAO TCP. This has generated two district vulnerability profiles and recommendations for a ‘light’ monitoring system for semi-arid areas of Kenya which will be further explored in the following twelve months.

20. Two IFAD-assisted projects have been identified as FIVIMS contributions, the Programme for Participatory Rural Development in Haute Guinée (the Republic of Guinea), and the Marketing and Local Initiatives Support Project in Côte d’Ivoire. Activities consisted of (i) preparatory work to refine the indicator assessment tools and fieldwork plan, (ii) a joint working session bringing together project staff and partners from both countries, (iii) hands-on assessments in the project areas, and (iv) materials production. The first three steps were successfully completed in May 2002, and distribution of training materials was underway by the end of the year. Notable features of the exercise were the degree of co-operation between various agencies and project partners, the high level of enthusiasm among project staff to gain practical experience with a straightforward assessment methodology, and the interest of project management in being able to track anchor indicators of impact more effectively.

21. The preparation and subsequent implementation of the Plan of Action (PA) remains the priority of EC supported FIVIMS activities in Burkina Faso as it has implications on all aspects of a food security information system, from institutional requirements, to the financial, methodological, and operational details. Its completion is high on the agenda of national and international partners as well given that delays paralyse the use of resources set aside by major donors to improve the performance of food security-related information systems. A draft PA was prepared and submitted to the Government in May 2002. The situation has been evolving rapidly and it is expected that the PA will be finalised soon.

22. It is increasingly obvious that FIVIMS work at national and sub-national level must explicitly address institutional factors as they can greatly affect the success of any information system. Further, a national FIVIMS needs to be based upon the expressed needs of information users. This helps ensure the information produced is used by decision-makers to guide action rather than in the development of elaborate reporting systems that reflect what is available rather than what is needed. Designing according to user needs also builds support for the system amongst resource managers, helping to increase the level of resources available. Partnerships at all levels (international, regional, national and sub-national) are critical for long-term success and sustainability.


23. The need for FIVIMS type indicators to be explicitly included in global monitoring and evaluation systems remains high. Work has continued in the fields of indicators and methodologies, the monitoring framework and in final reporting products. major methodologies were discussed at the FIVIMS International Scientific Symposium on Measurement and Assessment of Food Deprivation and Undernutrition (ISS) hosted by FAO; IFAD and DFID are working to enrich key FIVIMS type indicators; while a FNPP supported project is examining how to use FIVIMS to strengthen the PRSP and MDG monitoring and evaluation process. Other activities included establishing overall monitoring framework (KIDS) and documentation of results in SOFI 2002.

24. At the 2002 IAWG-FIVIMS meeting, members called for a stocktake of the achievements of the Initiative to review progress and help develop a strategic vision. In response to this, an External Assessment and Strategic Planning process will be carried out in 2003 which draws upon the FIVIMS experiences over the past six years at country and agency level. The process is in three phases running from January to December 2003. The Assessment Phase involves an analysis of FIVIMS accomplishments and what has limited these, drawing on interviews with IAWG members and some country and regional level consultations. The results of this will feed into the Strategic Planning Phase which will draft a strategic plan for the next five years that addresses the weaknesses and opportunities identified in the first phase. The third phase is the Senior Managers Meeting, which will seek commitment from senior-level managers of IAWG Member organisations to the FIVIMS strategic plan. Further information related to this process can be obtained by contacting the FIVIMS Secretariat ([email protected]).


25. As reported to the 2002 CFS, the FIVIMS International Scientific Symposium on Measurement and Assessment of Food Deprivation and Under-nutrition was held 26-28 June 2002. The main objective was to review the current status of widely used methods for measuring hunger and develop consensus on how to improve methods to monitor hunger and under-nutrition. The symposium aimed at recommending improvements in the methods, and at giving national and international stakeholders an opportunity to present their perspectives. Participants concluded that no individual measure was able to capture all aspects of food insecurity, but rather that a suite of indicators was necessary to cover the different dimensions. The Symposium also endorsed the need to focus on trends rather than absolute numbers. The Arabic, English, French and Spanish language versions of summary proceedings will be available for distribution in March 2003, while the full proceedings, available only in English, will be available by June 2003.

26. IFAD has initiated a series of assessments of key indicators in cooperation with the Italian Institute for Food and Nutrition Research (INRAN) and other partners. Specific activities were designed to:

27. In a complementary activity, IFAD and INRAN have now begun distribution of the training video entitled Benchmark Assessment of a Series of Impact Indicators. The video illustrates how to plan and implement a benchmark assessment of selected impact indicators in the context of rural development projects. The indicators covered are directly linked to the MDGs including: prevalence of malnutrition <5s (underweight, chronic & acute) access to safe water supply, access to adequate sanitation, and female literacy. The video is designed as a practical guide to help non-specialists become familiar with the basic concepts involved in benchmark assessments, and to provide step-by-step examples from the assessment carried out in Guinea. The first major distribution took place at an implementation workshop for 50 IFAD-assisted projects in West and Central Africa (October 2002) involving project managers, government representatives and other partners from countries throughout the region. Plans are underway to produce similar training videos in other regional/cultural/linguistic contexts. Copies of the training video (in the original French version or English translation) are available on request, and supporting materials can be accessed at

28. The UK Bilateral Development Programme, DFID, continues to provide assistance to the strengthening of FIVIMS indicator work and the incorporation of livelihoods concepts into FIVIMS methods at country level. FIVIMS features as a high priority in "Eliminating Hunger", its position paper on food security. DFID has also recently become a member of the Inter Agency Working Group on FIVIMS and is also providing substantial financial support to the FIVIMS External Assessment and Strategic Planning Process currently underway (refer to paragraph 24).

29. Use of FIVIMS for strengthening PRSP and MDG monitoring and evaluation (funding by FAO-Netherlands Partnership Programme, FNPP): The implementation of this project at country level started in mid-2001 with pilot work being carried out in Bangladesh and Kenya. Work in 2002 has focused on the provision of guidance and technical and capacity-building support to the Common Country Assessment (CCA) and UN Development Assistance Framework (UNDAF) processes conducted by UN Country Teams. FIVIMS also supports the UN Country Teams in the preparation of MDG Reports, that monitor MDGs at national level annually. In addition, the project has extended support to the Poverty Monitoring Units, scheduled to monitor the World Bank-sponsored Poverty Reduction Strategy Papers(PRSP) process.

30. This relatively small pilot project represents an important future direction for country-level, normative FIVIMS work, in terms of FIVIMS integration into the broader CCA/UNDAF, MDGs and PRSP processes. In short, the project works through the strengthening of operational national networks that bring together poverty, food security, nutrition and health experts, from government, UN, donors and NGOs, who meet on a regular basis, discuss pertinent issues, share information, agree on core data sets to jointly monitor and evaluate relief and development interventions.

31. As reported at the previous CFS, a common inter-agency database has been set up in UN DESA (Department of Economic and Social Affairs). KIMS1/KIDS2 has also been proposed as a package to support the monitoring of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), both in their stand-alone and portable versions. This is being discussed between FAO, UNDP, DESA and UNICEF staff.

32. A further edition of The State of Food Insecurity in the World (SOFI 2002) was published that made use of improved estimations of the number of undernourished in addition to special focus chapters. Preparations are underway for the 2003 edition which will deal with the relationship between trade and food security in addition to standard sections on the number of undernourished.


33. KIDS systems currently running in FAO’s Asia regional office cover South Asia, Thailand and the Philippines. In other applications KIDS has been customised to disseminate livestock information and the WHO global body mass index database which will shortly be available to the public. The current release of KIDS supports the majority of the KIMS data dissemination functionality and adds dynamic reports and hierarchical indicators. Development is advanced on localisation procedures and providing services for data gathering, online update and interfaces to external databases.

34. Version 1.1 of the KIMS map-viewer software, based on requested enhancements and user suggestions was released in March of 2002. The updates have improved performance and stability, increased compatibility with wider range of computer platforms and added more advanced functions. KIMS is currently being prepared for full release as an Open Source project and development continues on release 2.0.

35. Maps are key elements in an effective FIVIMS, being valuable tools for targeting food insecure and vulnerable populations and providing clear and synthetic messages to decision-makers. However access to accurate, appropriate and up to date spatial data has until now been a major constraint. The GeoNetwork activity of FAO, led by the Environment and Natural Resources Service (SDRN), aims to promote standardised access to spatial data. In addition to the developing catalogue interface to the map and metadata repository at, the FIVIMS website currently uses GeoNetwork as a customised search interface to an inventory of national level poverty maps. WFP has been actively collaborating on GeoNetwork and has recently launched its own web site. These activities are now being expanded to formulate GeoNetwork as a potential common information access/management platform for the IAWG-FIVIMS.


36. Over the past three years the IAWG has come to realise that one of the best options for promoting FIVIMS is at the regional level. The regional approach will be increasingly pursued in FIVIMS work to capitalise upon regional commonalties, networks and organisations.

37. The Japan-funded Asia FIVIMS project continues to work with national institutions in Cambodia, Philippines, Sri Lanka and Thailand as part of their national level focus on FIVIMS. This technical assistance aims at building national institutional and technical capacity on FIVIMS. In each country a National FIVIMS Steering Committee and a Technical Subcommittee/Task Force were established which consisted of representatives and experts from line-ministries and agencies. A series of FIVIMS workshops and consultations were conducted in accordance with the Letters of Agreement initiated by the project to support their FIVIMS capacity building activities. Each country is now preparing country specific FIVIMS guidelines, or a Manual of Operations, with active involvement of the Technical Subcommittee and the FIVIMS Focal Point that contains a set of suggested indicators, data requirement and sharing mechanism, methodological details of vulnerability analysis, among others. In addition, collaboration with the FNPP project has permitted the Asia FIVIMS project to pave the way for providing similar technical assistance to Bangladesh, which is expected to start as early as March 2003.

38. In order to rapidly disseminate FIVIMS related information for Asia, the web-based, dynamic FIVIMS Data Mapper/Viewer (, or Asia KIDS, was launched by the Asia FIVIMS project in 2002 that was developed jointly with the FAO IS/T Projects and Governance Service. Currently the modules for Regional, Philippine and Thai FIVIMS applications can be browsed by using any browser and in any environment and provides quantitative and qualitative FIVIMS information for Asia through the interactive maps, images, tables, charts and metadata. The Asia KIDS can be scalable to global, national and subnational level applications.

39. The Regional Expert Consultation of the Asia-Pacific Network for Food and Nutrition held in Bangkok in November 2002 focused on FIVIMS in the Asia-Pacific region. The meeting was organised to discuss progress since the previous review in 2000 and to develop a shared vision of FIVIMS in Asia and the Pacific that incorporated experiences from the Asia FIVIMS project, the FNPP project supporting the implementation of FIVIMS into the PRSP and CCA/UNDAF processes and the pilot implementation of FIVIMS at country level funded by the EC. Twelve countries were represented (Bangladesh, Cambodia, China, Fiji, India, Indonesia, Nepal, the Philippines, Samoa, Sri Lanka, Thailand and Viet Nam) and reported on the status of FIVIMS and related initiatives in their respective countries. A final session worked to develop practical recommendations on how to mainstream FIVIMS within national development efforts and opportunities to raise the profile of the FIVIMS focal point. The concrete actions and recommendations that resulted from this participatory approach are seen as realistic and achievable given adequate support.

40. Following intensification of the food crisis in southern Africa, a number of countries in the region, including Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, Swaziland, Zambia and Zimbabwe have intensified their food insecurity and vulnerability assessment activities through multi-sectoral National Vulnerability Assessment Committees (NVACs), which have received technical support from the Regional Vulnerability Assessment Committee formed several years ago under the SADC Food Agriculture and Natural Resource (FANR) sector.

41. In Sahelian West Africa, the FIVIMS Secretariat has recognised the growing potential to draw valuable lessons from the activities carried out by partner agencies in the region, including initiatives led by various members of the IAWG-FIVIMS. Such an exercise would not only enable the Secretariat to identify opportunities for future collaboration, but also allow regional links and partnerships to be strengthened. One such example is the Household Food Economy approach that has been applied in numerous Sahelian countries. The Secretariat plans to further examine these experiences as part of its broader reflection on best practices.

42. Central America and the Caribbean: The sixth IAWG FIVIMS meeting was held in Nicaragua in June, 2002. This involved participation from IAWG member representatives and national FIVIMS focal points meeting with representatives from national SISVAN (Food and Nutrition Monitoring Network) systems (an organisation that pre-dates FIVIMS by many years). A key issue to be explored is how the FIVIMS initiative can support countries in their efforts to reduce poverty and malnutrition on a sustainable basis.

43. In the Pacific Islands Region, a regional proposal has been formulated that aims to strengthen both country level and regional capacities to monitor poverty reduction, food security and sustainable development, and to formulate appropriate strategies and policies, making more effective use of improved information. The formulation of this proposal followed a national information user-producer workshop held in Samoa in late 2002. First indications are that this proposal is likely to receive support from several technical cooperation agencies in the Pacific Islands Region. The first step will be to complete assessments in various countries of existing information systems and networks, leading to the formulation of national and regional information strategies and work plans, which will also identify where international assistance is needed.


1 Key Indicator Mapping System

2 Key Indicator Database System