FAO’s initiative to promote innovation in collecting reliable statistical data on agriculture and food security in relation to the SDGs

A cooperation with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation

27/03/2017 - 

Last November, FAO signed a USD 10.5 million grant agreement with the Gates Foundation aimed at strengthening countries’ capacity to collect agriculture and food security data, and monitor the investment-process-outcome cycle leading to the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

For the purpose of promoting agriculture and food security development, the SDGs provide an ambitious and multidimensional plan of action, requiring governments to deliver more effective policies and programmes cutting across sectors and responding to economic, social and environmental challenges.

In order to design and implement new programmes, governments and the global community will require more data on who is affected, how they are affected, and who is being left behind; how resources from partners, including national governments, multilateral agencies and civil society, are being allocated; and the progress made to attain specific outcomes and impacts.

As the custodian of almost 10 percent of the total 230 SDG indicators related to agriculture and food security development, FAO supports the establishment of international methodologies, the building of technical capacity, and the sharing of good practices in data collection and indicator compilation, analysis and dissemination across the member states.

A number of countries have already begun requesting FAO’s support to produce specific SDG indicators and strengthen their national statistical systems. In addition, other multilateral organizations have requested FAO’s support to allocate their own resources for development and the SDGs, in particular SDG 2: ‘End hunger, achieve food security and improved nutrition and promote sustainable agriculture’.

To this effect, the Gates Foundation aims to support agricultural statistical innovation at FAO through recourse to more relevant available information, leading to better agriculture and food security policy decisions at the local, national and global level to improve the lives of the rural poor and smallholder farmers.

In response to the growing demand for reliable SDG-related agriculture and food security data and statistics, this agreement covers a number of interlinked components, such as the development of an innovative survey toolkit called the Agricultural Integrated Survey (AGRIS) to help countries establish an integrated and cost-effective programme of agricultural surveys; and improving the establishment of the Food Insecurity Experience Scale (FIES) as a global standard of reference to measure the ability to access food by households or individuals. Each component emphasizes the importance of building effective partnerships across complementary projects, donors and implementing partners to ensure the sustainability of investments.

As a consequence, this initiative will promote better coordination among the currently disconnected efforts made by the global community in the field of statistics, and ultimately strengthen countries’ capacities to monitor and collect SDG-related agriculture and food security data and statistics. Providing reliable and timely evidence of investments, processes and outcomes is of the utmost importance to guide political commitments, inform decisions, enhance coordination, improve transparency and overall accountability in the agricultural and rural development arena.