Global Forum on Food Security and Nutrition (FSN Forum)

World Food Programme Nutrition Division

The document seems to be quite theoretical, and it feels it misses a bit the linkage between the need the data is trying to address; and what is required to achieve that. There is a practical implementation component that could be reinforced throughout the document to make it as useful as possible. 

Please find list of more detailed comments: 

1. Conceptual framework and analytical matrix 

  • Data is not defined within the document. Agreeing on what data is important to define challenges in collecting, analysing, and using it for decision-making. 
  • It would be helpful to explain why better data is needed and frame the magnitude of the challenge. 
  • Differentiating between different types of data might also be useful. Different data present different challenges, opportunities and uses. Additionally, the report seems to be focusing on surveys and quantitative data collection. Recognising the important of qualitative and ethnographic data collection might be important, particularly when trying to measure very complex processes and outcomes. This might be particularly relevant when measuring the added dimension of “agency”.
  • Systems should not be limited to agri-food and health systems. Other systems such as social protection or education systems might be key to achieve food and nutrition security. 
  • This matrix proposed broadly follows traditional MEL systems, though simplifies what is a very complex system. It might be helpful to better detail: 
  1. How and by who data is used for decision-making
  2. The processes through which decision-making and realities on the ground feed back into defining priorities and the data collection and analysis process.
  3. Data interpretation plays an important role in the decision-making cycle  
  4. How does one decides on priorities? 
  • The report does a good job at detailing constraints to generate data in food security and nutrition. However, in addition to addressing constraints, it might be more practical to help decision-makers generate evidence/make use of evidence within existing constraints.  
  • The evidence priorities should be guided by what a policy/programme/initiative is aiming to achieve and how it intends to do so. As a result, it might be helpful to frame the first step of the matrix in terms of research questions and hypothesis to be tested or validated rather than in terms of “evidence priorities”. 
  • In the matrix, the cross-cutting FSN dimensions should be integrated within each of the core dimensions rather than being a category on their own. They should be guiding what to look at in the different categories of the conceptual framework. For example, “access for those with low consumption” should have research questions declined under macro, system, personal and individual levels. 

2.    Additional dimensions of agency and sustainability.

  • Definitions of “agency” and “sustainability“ are needed. Without clear definitions, harmonizing measurement and data collection will be difficult. The report needs to be clear on what we are measuring, why and how. 
  • Concept of “agency” requires more granular data. For example, data at the household level can hide nuances at the individual level too. It is important to discuss the lack of data representative at sub-national levels but at the level of other relevant levels/groups to reflect different vulnerabilities such as livelihoods, urban vs. rural, refugee camps, people with disability etc. 

3. The V0-draft reviews existing FSN data collection and analysis tools, initiatives and trends.

  • Generally, it might be useful to also highlight or point to long standing sources of data that are collected on a regular basis and can be used to inform food and nutrition security policies and programming. 
  1. Sources of data malnutrition and health data (e.g. DHS stat, JME etc.)
  2. Sources on food expenditure and consumption data (e.g. LSMS)
  3. Price data coming from CPI 
  • Additional existing initiatives that can be added add (note some of them are still at early stages)
  1. Prices and cost: Food prices for Nutrition at TUFTs, FNG Stat at WFP 
  2. Environmental data: GLEAM at FAO 
  3. FCT: Periodic Table of Foods Initiatives 
  4. Bringing data sources together and visualising different dimensions: Hunger Map Lives at WFP
  5. Costing tools: SEEMS at the University of Washington 
  • Source of data or initiatives looking at other than quantitative data should be added. 
  • The following challenges to evidence use could be considered: 
  1. Generating data at the right level/ need for sub-national and individual data: data often does not have the right level of disaggregation (e.g. livelihood vs. administrative zones) and data at the sub-national level is often missing or incomplete which hides some of the nuances within specific countries and context. There is a need for more granular individual data to reflect different vulnerabilities (e.g. adolescent girls vs. 50 year old man). 
  2. Regularity of data: Recognising the cyclical or changing nature of FSN requires data that is collected more frequently. For example, seasonality matters in many contexts and cuts over different levels within the framework.  
  3. Data documentation and data collection tools need to be available. Otherwise, this can create risks in how the data is being used.  
  4. Timeliness is not limited to the data collection and analysis stage. Discussion, review, publication, graphics can delay access to this information. 

4.    Capacity constraints 

  • More attention could be given to the issue of consolidating existing data or making different data talk to each other rather than generating new data. For example, the work on nutrition information systems and efforts to consolidate existing monitoring data for decision-making. This also links with the importance of developing coding systems to link different sources and types of data. Touching upon innovations around this would be useful. 
  • More emphasis should be given to strengthening national capacity to collect timely, quality, and relevant data. Fragmentation of the data collection landscape within government agencies should be also discussed. In many countries agricultural, food and nutrition data are not collected by national statistics offices but by different ministries. 

5.    Emerging technologies 

  • Additional possible uses of new technologies:
  1. Calculate environmental impact of policy/programmes/initiatives
  2. Understand trade-offs between different policy options 
  • Risks of new technologies are very high-level and not disaggregated across users and actors/players. It would be helpful to provide a framework to understand risks for different groups. For example, are risks for small-holder farmers the same as for retailers? A framework to weigh trade-off in terms of risks that can materialize could be helpful. 
  • Important to highlight those new technologies might exacerbate some of the capacity constraints already existing and outlined in the report. 
  • The section on governance is somehow short compared to the rest of the report but is an essential aspect, particularly as we improve coordination, harmonization and sharing of information. 

Some additional comments on specific sections of the document are provided below: 

  • On page 4, reference is made to Figure II in (UNICEF, 1990, Figure II). This has been updated and thus might consider updating the reference and associated thinking (if changes are considered large enough)
  • In 1.1 Within the food and nutrition system; there is a continuous flow of data within existing information systems. It could be beneficial to reinforce data collection includes linking it with existing data points and/or collecting data for a specific purpose. 
  • In 1.1; it might be worthwhile to reinforce that data should only be collected if it is going to be used; and thus, contributes to answering the main hypothesis developed. 
  • Under 2. P18 I would add this the absence of a common agreement on a FSN framework within stakeholders also influences priority setting as not all stakeholders might be aligned within their policies/strategies but also understanding on how to measure FSN and its drivers. This can influence outcomes of initiatives, and uptake as there are different lenses used by different stakeholders. 
  • Under 2. P18, suggest adding under timelines that pending on context; gaps within the framework might be large and not always possible to fill (as data collection cannot address all and/or its unfeasible to do so). There might also be contexts where it is impossible to fill the gap due to external factors (as expressed in box on conflict)
  • Under 2. P18, we would also add underutilization that it needs to address a concrete need, and utilization is linked to an identification of users before undertaken the exercise. This needs to be considered.