Global Forum on Food Security and Nutrition (FSN Forum)


Data collection and analysis tools for food security and nutrition - HLPE e-consultation on the Report’s scope

During its 46th Plenary Session (14-18 October 2019), the Committee on World Food Security (CFS) adopted its four-year Programme of Work (MYPoW 2020-2023), which includes a request to the High-Level Panel of Experts on Food Security and Nutrition (CFS-HLPE) to produce a report on “Data collection and analysis tools” for food security and nutrition, to be presented at the 50th Plenary session of the CFS in October 2022 (to access the MYPoW, please click here).

The report, which will provide recommendations to the CFS workstream “Data collection and analysis tools”, will:

  • Identify the barriers impeding quality data collection, analysis, and use in decision-making;
  • Identify specific high priority gaps in data production and analysis not covered by ongoing initiatives;
  • Highlight the benefits of using data and the opportunity costs of not using data for decisions;
  • Illustrate initiatives that have encouraged evidence-based decisions in agriculture and food security across the public, private, and academic sectors as well as approaches that have not worked;
  • Provide insights into how to ensure data collection and its utilization give voice to the people most affected by policies stemming from that data, including farmers and other food producers.

To implement this CFS request, the HLPE is launching an open e-consultation to seek views and comments on the following scope and building blocks of the report, outlined below. 


Please note that in parallel to this scoping consultation, the HLPE is calling for interested experts to candidate to the Project Team for this report. The call for candidature is open until 28 February 2021. Read more here.

Draft scope of the HLPE Report on “Data collection and analysis tools for food security and nutrition” proposed by the HLPE’s Steering Committee

“Although it is widely recognized that sound decisions are based on good information and data, in many countries, particularly low and lower middle-income countries, the availability of timely and reliable rural, agricultural and food security statistics is largely lacking. Despite all efforts, most of these countries still do not conduct regular household and farm surveys, do not meet the minimum data requirements, lack sustainable data systems, and have insufficient capacity to analyze and use the data at their disposal.

Addressing the gap in quality data is also essential to monitor progress and understand where the world stands in achieving its shared goals - the SDGs. Custodian UN specialized agencies were identified for each SDG indicator to ensure that robust, global statistics were provided to measure progress in achieving the 2030 Agenda. However, the success of the SDGs rests largely upon strengthening data collection and statistical capacity-development at national level, including capacity building that strengthens coordination among national statistical offices.

In recent years, several initiatives[1] have begun to invest in strengthening national data systems through technical assistance, methodological innovation and research, and by supporting national capacity to collect, process, analyze, and use agricultural data. Yet, beyond these first steps, more needs to be done at the global level to support the process of laying the groundwork for informed decision making, setting standards for improved data-driven policies around food security and nutrition, and strengthening effective monitoring, review and follow- up to deliver SDG 2.

Of course, data sources are wide and varied and should be collected and utilized with an eye towards transparency, openness, and consistent with legal standards and relevant human rights principles.” (CFS MYPoW).

In particular, data-driven technology (e.g Internet of things) generates concerns of data privacy and farmer agency, especially when farm-specific production data are transferred to the private sector. Another important concern is the data and digital divide, which may further exacerbate rural inequalities remaining inaccessible to poor and food insecure farmers.

The objectives of this report are to identify challenges and gaps in collecting, analysing and using data in decision-making processes on food security and nutrition. The report will reflect on existing conceptual frameworks underpinning data collection, analysis and use on FSN. The report will also identify successful examples and initiatives for data collection and generation, including those that engage all food systems’ actors (such as workers, farmers and producers) and that contribute to the valorization of indigenous knowledge.

The report will explore how qualitative research methodologies (including case studies, lived experiences, traditional, indigenous and local knowledge) can provide evidence for a deeper understanding of FSN issues and on sustainable agriculture practices. The recommendations will help countries better collect and analyse data to monitor their progress towards SDG2, and other related SDGs. The report will specifically explore what data analysis and tools are needed to  ensure that FSN policies address all the dimensions of food security, including, as identified by the HLPE, agency and sustainability (HLPE, 2020), and what are the specific challenges in measuring these two dimensions and the causalities of failures by achieving the FSN objectives. Particular attention will be devoted to challenges and solutions in empowering farmers, producers and workers in generating, accessing and using data and to data and information systems governance.

With this e-consultation, the HLPE Steering Committee is seeking your feedback. In particular, you are invited to:

  • Share your comments on the objectives and content of this report as outlined above.
  • Share good practices and successful experiences on how to:
  1. Improve quantitative and qualitative data collection and analysis;
  2. Address capacity gaps of local institutions, farmers’, producers’ and workers’ organizations in generating, sharing and analysing good quality data data, as well as in using data to inform decision-making in food systems;
  3. Address capacity gaps at country level to generate and use data in policy-making processes, monitoring and reporting related to SDG2; including with respect to financial resources, human resources, data management, legislation and the enabling environment and FSN governance.
  • Share the most recent references that should be considered in this report.
  • Provide feedback on the following questions, to guide the development of the report:
  1. What data do countries need for more effective decision-making for food security and nutrition and to inform policies for the transformation of food systems?
  2. What are the gaps and barriers in national and international data production and use with respect to FSN? What type of data will be most useful in measuring food security dimensions such as “agency” and “sustainability”?
  3. What are the current national and international processes for the collection, processing, analysis, and use of reliable and accurate agricultural and food security and nutrition statistics? What are the main gaps, challenges and inequalities in existing processes?
  4. What are the policies that countries need to strengthen their capacity to collect, process, analyze and use quality qualitative and quantitative data to achieve the 2030 Agenda goals? What policy areas should countries prioritize to strengthen their data and information systems (education, technology, finance, participation, etc.)?
  5. What are the financing needs and the financial mechanisms and tools that should be established to allow all countries to collect, analyse and use FSN data?
  6. What are the most promising new developments with respect to innovation and information and communication technology, including artificial intelligence, in data collection, analysis and sharing that could be applied to food security and nutrition?
  7. How can agricultural census, rural and household surveys, earth observation and other big data be used to improve food security and nutrition policies and outcomes? How integrated and coordinated are these to provide needed reliable and timely data for food security and nutrition policies and interventions?
  8. What are some of the risks inherent in data-driven technologies for FSN? How can these risks be mitigated? What are some of the issues related to data privacy, access and control that should be carefully considered?
  9. What are the actual capacities of countries in monitoring the achievement of the SDGs, what are the capacity development needs, especially with respect to data for SDG2? What capacity development is necessary to ensure collection, analysis, monitoring and reporting of data on food security and nutrition at national and regional levels? How to ensure data harmonization at all levels?
  10. What are the gaps with respect to data collection and analysis tools for FSN vis-à-vis existing initiatives and programmes?
  11. How can the international community together with governments ensure data and information systems governance for FSN? Which mechanism or organization should ensure good governance of data and information systems? How to regulate and mitigate potential conflicts between public and private ownership of data?

[1] The Global Strategy to Improve Agricultural and Rural Statistics at FAO (GSARS), the World Bank’s Living Standard Measurement Study’s Integrated Surveys on Agriculture (LSMS-ISA), FAO’s AGRISurvey programme and the 50x2030 Initiative to Close Agricultural Data Gaps.


This activity is now closed. Please contact [email protected] for any further information.

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Bridget Holmes


Dear HLPE e-consultation team,

Thank you for organising this open e-consultation on the scope of the CFS HLPE report ‘Data collection and analysis tools for food security and nutrition’.

Please kindly find below comments provided on behalf of Mr. José Rosero Moncayo, Director, Statistics Division (ESS), and Ms. Nancy Aburto, Deputy Director and Responsible Officer, Food and Nutrition Division (ESN), of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), Italy.

The FAO Statistics Division (ESS) and the FAO Food and Nutrition Division (ESN) are embarking on an innovative joint effort to harmonize the processing of dietary data, to increase the dissemination, and improve utilization of food availability, food consumption, and diet quality statistics and indicators. This initiative will bring together, for the first time, data from (a) individual food consumption surveys from the FAO/WHO Global Individual Food consumption data Tool (FAO/WHO GIFT), (b) the diet diversity indicator Minimum Dietary Diversity for Women (MDD-W), (c) Household Consumption and Expenditure Surveys, (d) Supply Utilization Accounts, and (e) Food Balance Sheets; and disseminate them through a common “Food and Diet” domain on FAOSTAT. Some additional innovative aspects of this platform include the establishment of common language and methods for data analysis that create bridges among statisticians, economists and nutritionists interested in these data, as well as the provision of guidance to data users on the interpretation, comparison and use of dietary data and statistics from various sources for guiding evidence-based decisions in agriculture, food security and nutrition.

The project team would welcome the opportunity to share further on the above initiative which we believe is highly relevant to the CFS HLPE consultation.

Please do not hesitate to contact us for further information if needed.

Your sincerely,

Bridget Holmes


Maria Giulia De Castro

World Farmers’ Organisation

Dear colleagues,

Thank you for organising this open consultation on the scope of the CFS HLPE report on Data collection and analysis tools for food security and nutrition.

Please kindly find attached a contribution from WFO side.

With thanks and best regards,


Dear colleagues, I would like to offer the following comments from NSAG (Animal Production and Genetics Branch) of FAO:

  1. The proposed scope refers to farmers and farms but should be inclusive covering all agricultural sectors and production systems including livestock keepers and pastoralists.
  2. It will be very important to check whether the different food groups are incorporated in data systems adequately and at the right level of granularity. There is a bias towards plant-based foods. It will be further important to see whether the different food groups can be analyzed holistically from production to consumption differentiating nutritional needs by age group and gender.
  3. Sustainable agricultural practices need to be seen by production system not sector. Often agricultural production systems are being described only from crop production perspectives while the majority of farmers integrate crop and livestock production and often even aquatic animals, and trees. We need to arrive at a more systemic and holistic approach.

with kind regards, Beate Scherf

Séverine Jaloustre



Voici ma contribution au questionnaire envoye le 10 fevrier, basee sur mon experience des biostatistiques, de developpement de bases de donnees mais aussi sur mon experience actuelle de directrice adjointe de l'institut franco sud africain des sciences agronomiques, qui aide 3 universites anciennement defavorisees entre autres dans leurs activites d'appui aux communautes defavorisees (soutien de micro-projets portes par des petits agriculteurs entre autres).

Je reste a votre disposition en cas de besoin

Tres cordialement

Severine Jaloustre

George Kent

University of Hawaii (Emeritus)
United States of America


It would be useful to consider alternative futures for food/nutrition data and analysis and on that basis discuss the path going forward.

Some data, such as financial data, are not included in the readily accessible data collections. Some might be accessible only for a high price. In the future, there might be some commodification of global data, meaning some might be made available only for a price. A variety of data management services might be offered, some free, and some for a price. There is a need for debate and control on this. Are there ways to do this so that the benefits clearly outweigh the costs and risks for all who might be affected?

Different users will have their own interests in the raw data and the associated services that might be provided. To illustrate, there is the idea of collecting longitudinal data on individuals, throughout the lifespan. This would make it easier to research the impacts of specific diets on health not only in the short-term but also in the long term. Some people get their health care through the same clinic or hospital for much of their lives, so in that context the creation of these data sets would not be difficult. There are dangers in collecting such data, but there are also potential benefits. The idea deserves discussion.

This work could begin with a survey of existing data sets, comparing them, and searching for minor adjustments that might increase their value. In some cases, this might mean making them more accessible on the Internet, perhaps in a common format.

One possible improvement is suggested by the agenda of the upcoming March 8 event titled “Bringing Children Out from the Shadows: The urgent need to disaggregate and share COVID-19 data for children's well-being” ( It should be disaggregated for many reasons, not just for dealing with the pandemic.

Just as we have Codex Alimentarius to make recommendations relating to food quality, it would be possible to create another global agency that would make recommendations relating to data collection and management on an ongoing basis. The upgrading of the system should be viewed as an endless process. It could be overseen by the new UN Nutrition agency

George Kent

On the sidelines of the 47th plenary of the CFS, the Global Partnership for Sustainable Development Data together with the Indonesian Government and Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation co-hosted a side event on Data for Food Security and Nutrition: Taking forward the CFS data workstream.

The discussions touched on the central role of multi-stakeholder partnerships, the importance of national context and inclusion of local people, the increasing need for data sharing and integration, and the tension between the value of open data and potential risks to privacy and data protection.

We hope that the discussion offers a useful contribution to the HLPE as it works toward actionable recommendations for improving the data needed for food systems transformation.

Here we share our key takeaways from the event:

  1. Multi-stakeholder partnerships are central in catalyzing and supporting data-driven decision-making towards the goal of zero hunger. Gallup’s Andrew Rzepa reflected that ensuring that everyone is counted is a massive undertaking and no organization will be able to do it alone. A recent survey by the United Nations and the World Bank showed that a majority of National Statistical Offices have developed partnerships to address interruptions to routine data collection caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. They have established partnerships to access new data sources (69%), to implement new methods for data collection (68%) and to access and use new technology (56%).  Governments are recognising the need for robust national data ecosystems and have been partnering across sectors.

  2. Agricultural data systems must take into account national contexts and capacities. The global community needs to place more attention on improving the production, analysis, and use of food and agricultural data, to support collective action in this area.

    Indonesia offers an interesting example here, with their success in adopting a Single Data Policy for joining up data across agencies. Dr. I Ketut Kariyasa reflected on how this approach has enabled the Ministry of Agriculture to integrate different data sources, establish standards for comparability and produce timely and accurate data that are fed into their ‘Agriculture War Room’. This serves as a control center for decision-making and monitoring on agricultural policies and food security. He stressed that investing in strong nationally-owned data systems that engage local knowledge is essential in supporting greater efficiency and more effective targeting of policies and programs.

  3. Data sharing and integration is becoming more important than ever. FAO’s Pietro Gennari emphasized that an analytical approach to sustainable food systems means bringing together data on many different aspects from different sources. Innovation in the area of geo-localisation can be a powerful instrument for linking data across different sources to provide new insights such as by overlaying health, food and environment data sources to understand food systems interactions in a particular region or community. Yet this also has implications for data protection.

  4. Data collection and use at the local level must be inclusive and not extractive; ensuring that the views, experiences and rights of the most vulnerable are considered and included.

    Action Aid’s Sesheeni Joud Selvaratnam reflected that many civil society organisations are aiming to empower communities through the process of data collection, analysis and use. These approaches and those led by government and international organizations need to close the feedback loop, so that communities can use data in their daily decisions around planting, harvesting, and feeding their families. In particular, small-holder farmers and women should participate in the development of protocols on data collection and use to ensure that the insights generated meet their needs.

  5. There are deep running tensions between the value of open data and potential risks to privacy and concerns around data ownership. FAO’s Pietro Gennari acknowledged this tension and reflected on the longstanding principles governing statistics that ensure confidentiality as well as the many technical tools for anonymization and legal parameters that are in place to prevent data misuse. 

    Another important dimension here is debates about bias and equity in the use of digital technologies. Speakers underlined the importance of triangulation and ground-truthing data from new digital tools and methods against more robust surveys and census data. The pandemic has shown us the value of these new methods to get data for immediate decision-making. However, it has also highlighted that we can’t do away with these more robust sources to help us understand and adjust for shortcomings in the data.

We are grateful to speakers who participated in the discussion: Pietro Gennari, Chief Statistician of the FAO, Dr. Martin Cole, Chairperson of the High-Level Panel of Experts (HLPE) Steering Committee, Professor José María Sumpsi Viñas, Member of the HLPE Steering Committee, Sesheeni Joud Selvaratnam, International Programme and Policy Lead at ActionAid, Dr. I Ketut Kariyasa, Director (ad interim), Centre for Data and Information Systems, Indonesian Ministry of Agriculture, Andrew Rzepa, Partner, Gallup. 

Please visit our blog for more information about this discussion and its key takeaways.

Benone Pasarin

Agricultural University Iassi

It is known that Man is an open information system, with self-regulation, self-reproduction and anti-entropic evolution, which processes exogenous and endogenous information. In fact, food is a major epigenetic factor, carrying information taken from the environment, which interacts with our own genetic information, a condition absolutely necessary for the proper functioning of this biological entity.

Studying the role of food information, as a major epigenetic factor, it was concluded that staple foods are, in fact, not only nutritional complexes but also parts of the environment, carriers of information. Through processing, the food matrix undergoes informational changes, the deeper the more advanced the processing technique. The strong anthropization of food and the environment, as well as its effects prove that man has failed, as a rational being, to discover the laws of harmonizing its existence and activity with the environment, nature, causing self-imbalances and serious ecological transformations.

In the case of standardized, processed and composite foods, the nutritional profiles are completely modified and different from the traditional profiles of whole natural foods.

The anthropogenic nutritional profiles of highly processed, standardized and "modern" foods provide human metabolism (unchanged for millions of years) with lesser known and harder to assess information, pseudo-nutrients, additives, contaminants with which it is not accustomed, producing imbalances. strong metabolic stress (metabolic stress), which is the trigger for the alarming pathological picture encountered today at the individual level and, naturally, in non-public health.

Therefore, I also consider that a food database, with reference to ingredients and their percentages of inclusion in the food is very useful for the whole food sector, both for the consumer and for the producer.


2. ¿Cuáles son las brechas y barreras en la producción y el uso de datos nacionales e internacionales con respecto a la SAN? ¿Qué tipo de datos serán más útiles para medir dimensiones de seguridad alimentaria como “arbitrio” y “sostenibilidad”?

Respuesta 2: Respecto a la primera interrogante (¿Cuáles son las brechas y barreras…?), sin duda alguna tiene que ver con la elaboración de informes estadísticos oficiales adecuados, consistentes y oportunos para la mayoría de los países, pero en particular en América Latina y El Caribe (ALC) toda vez que en muchos países no existe una oficina nacional de estadística independiente. Además, cuando estas oficinas existen tienen que operar con fuertes limitaciones técnicas, muchas veces con limitaciones de infraestructura debido a su pequeño tamaño, poca experiencia estadística, con escasos recursos de financiamiento e inestabilidad laboral del personal que ellas trabajan. A estos problemas se suma que en la mayoría de los países ALC la generación de datos estadísticos ha estado dirigida hacia la producción de información económica más que a estadísticas sociales, alimentarias-nutricionales y, en mayor medida, ambientales.

Por otro lado, considerando lo jurídico-legal como una dimensión del “arbitrio” con fines de seguridad alimentaria, según el Comité de Derechos Económicos, Sociales y Culturales (CESCR), el derecho a la alimentación no debe interpretarse simplemente como el conjunto de calorías, proteínas y otros nutrientes específicos necesarios para estar protegido contra el hambre y la desnutrición …sino que más bien comprende: “... el derecho a tener acceso de manera regular, permanente, directamente o mediante su adquisición en el comercio, a una alimentación cuantitativa y cualitativamente adecuada y suficiente, que corresponda a las tradiciones culturales de la población a la que pertenece la persona que la consume, y garantice una vida síquica y física individual y colectiva libre de temores, satisfactoria y digna.” Ver el siguiente vinculo: 

3. ¿Cuáles son los procesos nacionales e internacionales actuales para la recopilación, procesamiento, análisis y uso de estadísticas agrícolas y de seguridad alimentaria y nutrición confiables y precisas? ¿Cuáles son las principales brechas, desafíos y desigualdades en los procesos existentes?

Respuesta 3: Con base en el curso de autoaprendizaje sobre “La Agenda 2030 y las oportunidades para las sociedades rurales”, me permito transcribir una Idea-Fuerza que puede ser parte de la respuesta a la primera parte de esta pregunta; en el sentido que es perentorio “…abordar los desafíos emergentes y existentes que enfrentan los sistemas estadísticos nacionales en el Caribe, y en muchos otros países, lo cual requerirá un nuevo paradigma de fortalecimiento de la capacidad estadística, incorporando tecnología e incluyendo los datos necesarios para el desarrollo sostenible. Para que esto suceda, será necesaria una acción legislativa. En la actualidad, la mayoría de los enfoques modernos e innovadores para la recopilación, el procesamiento y la difusión de datos estadísticos se verán impedidos por las características propias de cada país en cuanto al registro de la información estadística; por lo tanto, es prioritario establecer protocolos estándar de intercambio de datos a nivel nacional en cada país para promover la eficiencia en la recopilación y el procesamiento de datos, y para garantizar la puntualidad de la producción de estadísticas oficiales, en particular la relacionada con la seguridad alimentaria y nutricional.

En relación con la segunda interrogante planteada en esta pregunta 3, es pertinente resaltar que las dos razones principales dadas por los países, en particular los ALC, para la no producción de datos que permitan medir los indicadores de los ODS, incluidos los de Seguridad Alimentaria y Nutrición, se relacionan con: la ausencia de una necesidad previa de los datos y la falta de una metodología acordada para calcular los indicadores.

4. ¿Cuáles son las políticas que los países necesitan para fortalecer su capacidad de recopilar, procesar, analizar y utilizar datos cualitativos y cuantitativos de calidad para lograr los objetivos de la Agenda 2030? ¿Qué áreas de política deberían priorizar los países para fortalecer sus sistemas de datos e información (educación, tecnología, finanzas, participación, etc.)?

Respuesta 4: Es importante destacar que la Agenda 2030 es dinámica y evolutiva, por lo que es evaluada permanente a lo largo de los años, ya que la disponibilidad de datos es la base del monitoreo y la evaluación de la implementación de los ODS, y si bien éste es un proceso que recién comienza, muchos países de la región todavía no cuentan con indicadores apropiados y carecen de las capacidades y de la infraestructura estadística necesaria para crearlos. En tal sentido, una de las acciones políticas que los gobiernos deben impulsar para fortalecer dicha Agenda es involucrarse más con El Grupo Interinstitucional y de Expertos de los ODS, que es un grupo de trabajo de la Comisión de Estadística de las Naciones Unidas, a través del cual la FAO ha sido designada como una agencia "depositaria", cuya misión es recopilar datos de fuentes nacionales y proporcionar el modelo para el informe anual sobre el progreso de los ODS;   actualizar la documentación sobre los indicadores, trabajar en un mayor desarrollo metodológico y contribuir en la capacitación estadística.

Además, la Agenda 2030 establece una estrategia de seguimiento global que permite a los países comunicar sus resultados e incluye los aportes de los actores a nivel sub nacional y nacional, además de su incorporación a escala regional y global. Estos esfuerzos se traducen en los Informes (o Exámenes) Voluntarios Nacionales que se visibilizan en el Foro Político de Alto Nivel (FPAN), que es una instancia intergubernamental en la que los líderes de los países se reúnen anualmente para identificar los logros, retos y recomendaciones de cada país frente a la consecución de los ODS, además de fomentar las acciones destinadas a acelerar la aplicación de la Agenda 2030.

La importancia de estos Informes Nacionales Voluntarios radica en que facilita el intercambio de experiencias, éxitos, desafíos y las lecciones aprendidas; además de fortalecer las políticas e instituciones de gobiernos y movilizar el apoyo de múltiples partes interesadas, a través de alianzas para la implementación de los ODS. En esta Idea-Fuerza está implícita la respuesta a la segunda parte de la pregunta 4.




George Kent

University of Hawaii (Emeritus)
United States of America

Comments on the Draft scope of the HLPE Report on “Data collection and analysis tools for food security and nutrition”

UN Nutrition ( will serve as a new UN inter-agency for developing more integrated efforts to end malnutrition in all its forms. HLPE’s work on data collection and analysis should be done in consultation with UNN. HLPE should support action not only at the global and national levels but also at sub-national levels.

The goals could be grand and ambitious like the Sustainable Development Goals or modest goals such as ensuring that children regularly get school meals they are supposed to get. Data systems could be developed to support steady incremental steering toward the achievement of well-articulated goals. In this approach, the monitoring of what is happening currently could be linked directly to quick changes in the remedial action, making mid-course corrections on the path to the goal. To illustrate, I am looking at ways in which wasting and stunting in young children could be driven down with monthly adjustments to their diets and other relevant factors such as sanitation. This could involve several different levels of governance working together, using a shared data system devoted to the challenge of reducing wasting and stunting. The data could be updated frequently, guiding incremental adjustments to steer the process toward achievement of the goal.

George Kent