ANNEX II: Key Food Security Indicators
  • 06 Dec 2023
  • 4 Minutes to read
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ANNEX II: Key Food Security Indicators

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Article summary

These are some of the core indicators used to measure food security on household level. Most FSCs (through joint, harmonised or multi sectoral assessments) will collect data against most of these indicators from phase 2 onwards and they will inform the cluster’s food security analysis and sectoral inputs for the HNO:

  • The Food Consumption Score (FCS) is an indicator of dietary quality and frequency of consumption. It is calculated using the frequency of consumption (number of days) of 8 food groups consumed by a HH over the previous 7 days (which is then weighted according to the relative nutritional value of the consumed food groups). The FCS is used to classify households into three groups: poor, borderline or acceptable food consumption. The FCS is a core corporate indicator for WFP used for measuring progress and effectiveness of a response. See more on FCS here.
  • Household Dietary Diversity Score (HDDS) is a proxy measure of HH food access. It is calculated based on the average number of different food groups consumed by the HH the previous day or night. The FCS and HDDS are highly correlated and can be used interchangeably as a measure of household-level diet diversity and as a validated proxy for energy sufficiency in most contexts (but FCS is preferred as it covers a longer period so it is more representative). See more on HDDS here. 
  • The Reduced Coping Strategy Index (rCSI) measures the short-term strategies HHs use to meet their basic food needs. It is used to better understand the frequency and severity of changes in food consumption behaviours when faced with a shortage of food and measures how many of the previous 7 days a HH have not had sufficient food or money to buy food and have adopted one or more coping strategies. See more in the Indicator Handbook here.  
  • The Livelihood-based Coping Strategy Index (LCSI) is measured to better understand longer-term HH coping capacities. HH livelihood and economic security is determined by income, expenditure and assets. Understanding the behaviours HHs engage in to adapt to recent crises provides insights into the difficulty of their situation, and how likely they are to meet challenges in the future. It measures how many HH members have had to engage in coping strategies (neutral, stress, crisis or emergency coping strategies) due to lack of food or money to buy food over the previous 30 days (the higher the CSI value, the higher the degree of food insecurity). See more here
  • The Food Expenditure Share is an indicator measuring economic vulnerability. It provides an understanding of how much of a HH budget is used for food. A categorical variable is created that equates ranges of the food expenditure share to levels of food insecurity, with the most food insecure spending greater than 75% of their budget on food and food secure spend less than 50%. As an indicator of HH food security (the poorer and more vulnerable a household, the larger the share of household income spent on food), this indicator is especially helpful to understand the impact of food price fluctuations on both the quality and quantity of HH food consumption. It is frequently used, often in combination with other indicators (e.g. FCS), to assess food insecurity and vulnerability to future shocks. 
  • Consolidated Approach for Reporting Indicators of Food Security (CARI): Though not an indicator, CARI is a WFP method used to analyse and report the level of food insecurity within a population, which the FSC Coordinator should be familiar with. Under the CARI approach, each surveyed HH is classified into one of 4 food security categories (food secure, marginally food secure, moderately food insecure and severely food insecure). This classification is based on the HH’s current status of food security (using food consumption indicators) and their coping capacity using indicators measuring economic vulnerability (food expenditure share) and asset depletion (LCSI). For more on CARI see here. If an IPC (or CH) is not available, CARI is used for the sectoral PIN in the FSC chapter of the HNO (see 6.8 and 9.5.2).  
  • Household Hunger Scale (HHS): HHS is an indicator to measure household hunger. HHS is collected by asking three questions on potentially experienced food deprivation at household level over the past 4 weeks/30 days.
  • Household Economy Analysis (HEA) The total food and cash income required to cover the food and non-food items necessary for survival in the short term. It includes (1) the minimum food energy needs; (2) the costs associated for food preparation and consumption; and (3) where applicable, the cost of water for human consumption. 
  • Food Production Losses: Considering main staple food in the area, compared to a normal year, using five years average or longer if food production has been affected by exceptional factors over several of the past 5 years. This indicator can be collected at HH level, which is preferable for the HNO, or be area-based estimates, usually provided by agricultural extension services and possibly triangulated with satellite imagery. Note that these thresholds are not based on international standards, they need to be adjusted to the context. 
  • Productive Assets Losses Productive assets depending on agricultural subsectors: farming (land or access to land, seeds, perennial crops, farming tools and machinery, animal traction, irrigation), livestock (reproductive animals, feed, animal health inputs and equipment), fishing (access to sea, fishing gear and vessels), forestry (tree nurseries, tools and equipment).

For more details, see the online Indicator Handbook (gFSC, 2020) and the general guidance on indicators

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