Measuring the Food Access Dimension of Food Security

Measuring the Food Access Dimension of Food Security

With food security now a top priority for many governments and for the global development community, there is heightened awareness of the need to improve our understanding and measurement of food security.

This paper aims to bring clarity in the assessment of the food access dimension of food security at the household and individual level.

Nine indicators were identified and grouped in three broad categories: experience-based, coping strategies, and dietary diversity. The indicators only capture the quantity and quality components of food access; none of the indicators capture information on safety or cultural acceptability of food access. Household Dietary Diversity (HDDS) and Food Consumption Score (FCS) are often considered indicators of both quantity and quality, but they have not been validated for the latter.

The authors recommend the use of experience-based indicators, HDDS, or FCS to assess household access to energy; experience-based indicators to assess household access to diet quality (defined qualitatively as not having to adopt practices that favor acquiring cheaper, less appealing, and less micronutrient-dense foods); and individual dietary diversity scores for women or children to assess individual access to diet quality, defined as micronutrient adequacy.