Food security indicators: how to measure and communicate results

Food security indicators: how to measure and communicate results

The purpose of this paper is to assess how to measure food security and how to communicate results of activities that have improved food security as a goal. There are many challenges in measuring and communicating food security results. Food security is a multidimensional concept that involves a whole range of different factors such as social inequalities and environmentally sustainable food systems. In the definition of food security, access to food is the core component. Food security consists of the four pillars; availability, physical and economic access, utilization and stability. To find appropriate indicators to measure food security have been difficult. Chronic undernourishment has been the main indicator comprising estimates based on average availability of calories per person at national level. Attribution is another challenge; the degree to which improvements in the food security situation can be attributed to the outcome and results of particular policies, programs and actions. There is broad agreement that the main cause of chronic undernourishment in the world today is poverty and that protracted conflicts are contributing towards more hunger. As 60 per cent of the chronic undernourished people live in conflict affected areas, focus has now been put on the link between food security and peacebuilding. In this regard, measuring processes and not only results, is a new challenge. The SDGs provide an opportunity for new and better food security indicators. The SDG2 on zero hunger, sets out to measure agricultural area under sustainable production, and FAO is currently working on finding appropriate sustainability indicators. Regarding food security and socio-economic groups, the UN Inter Agency Expert Group is on the task of how to go about disaggregating data according to sex, age, urban, rural and vulnerable groups. This means that both the access by different socio-economic groups and the stability pillars of the food security definition could be better covered, if appropriate indicators are developed through the SDG process.

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