1 An Introduction to the Basic Concepts of Food Security I. THE FOUR DIMENSIONS OF FOOD SECURITY Food security exists when all people, at all times, have physical and economic access to sufficient safe and uides nutritious food that meets their dietary needs and food preferences for an active and healthy life. - 1996 World Food Summit From this definition, four main dimensions of food security can be identified: Food availability addresses the “supply side” of food security and is determined by the level of Physical AVAILABILITY Practical G food production, stock levels and net trade. of food An adequate supply of food at the national or international level does not in itself guarantee Economic and physical household level food security. Concerns about insufficient food access have resulted in a greater ACCESS to food policy focus on incomes, expenditure, markets and prices in achieving food security objectives. Utilization is commonly understood as the way the body makes the most of various nutrients Food UTILIZATION in the food. Sufficient energy and nutrient intake by individuals is the result of good care and feeding practices, food preparation, diversity of the diet and intra-household distribution of food. Food Security Information for Action Combined with good biological utilization of food consumed, this determines the nutritional status of individuals. Even if your food intake is adequate today, you are still considered to be food insecure if you have STABILITY of the other inadequate access to food on a periodic basis, risking a deterioration of your nutritional status. three dimensions over Adverse weather conditions, political instability, or economic factors (unemployment, rising food time prices) may have an impact on your food security status. For food security objectives to be realized, all four dimensions must be fulfilled simultaneously. II. THE DURATION OF FOOD INSECURITY Food security analysts have defined two general types of food insecurity : CHRONIC FOOD INSECURITY TRANSITORY FOOD INSECURITY short-term and temporary. long-term or persistent. is... people are unable to meet their minimum food there is a sudden drop in the ability to produce or occurs requirements over a sustained period of time. access enough food to maintain a good nutritional when... status. extended periods of poverty, lack of assets and short-term shocks and fluctuations in food availability results inadequate access to productive or financial and food access, including year-to-year variations in from... resources. domestic food production, food prices and household incomes. typical long term development measures also used transitory food insecurity is relatively unpredictable can be to address poverty, such as education or access to and can emerge suddenly. This makes planning and overcome productive resources, such as credit. They may also programming more difficult and requires different with... need more direct access to food to enable them to capacities and types of intervention, including early raise their productive capacity. warning capacity and safety net programmes ( see Box 1). is similar to chronic seasonal food security The concept of falls between chronic and transitory food insecurity. It food insecurity as it is usually predictable and follows a sequence of known events. However, as seasonal food insecurity is of limited duration it can also be seen as recurrent, transitory food insecurity. It occurs when there is a cyclical pattern of inadequate availability and access to food. This is associated with seasonal fluctuations in the climate, cropping patterns, work opportunities (labour demand) and disease. The EC - FAO Food Security Programme is funded by the European Union and implemented by FAO 1

2 An Introduction to the Basic Concepts of Food Security severity The of undernourishment indicates, for the What are Safety Nets? Box 1. food deprived, the extent to which dietary energy consumption falls below the pre-determined threshold. Measures to enhance direct access to food are more likely to be beneficial if these are embedded in more uides The Integrated Food Security Phase Classification general social safety net programmes. Safety nets (IPC) include income transfers for those chronically unable to work—because of age or handicaps—and for those The IPC is a classification system for food security temporarily affected by natural disasters or economic crises based on a range of livelihood needs: recession. Practical G Options include: Indicators IPC Phase Classification Generally food secure - Crude Mortality Rate Targeted direct feeding programmes . These include • - Malnutrition prevalence school meals; feeding of expectant and nursing mothers Chronically food insecure - Food Access/ Availability as well as children under five through primary health Acute food and livelihood centres, soup kitchens and special canteens. - Dietary Diversity crisis - Water Access/Availability Food Security Information for Action Food-for-work programmes Food-for-work programmes. • Humanitarian emergency - Coping strategies provide support to households while developing useful - Livelihood Assets Famine / humanitarian infrastructure such as small-scale irrigation, rural roads, catastrophe buildings for rural health centres and schools. See for more information These can be in cash Income-transfer programmes. • or in kind, including food stamps, subsidized rations and IV. VULNERABILITY other targeted measures for poor households. The dynamic nature of food security is implicit when we Zezza, A . 2003. A Conceptual Framework for and Stamoulis, K. talk about people who are vulnerable to experiencing National Agricultural, Rural Development, and Food Security Strategies and Policies. ESA Working Paper No. 03-17, November 2003. food insecurity in the future. Vulnerability is defined in Agricultural and Development Economics Division, FAO, Rome. www. terms of the following three critical dimensions: ae050e00.htm outcome ; 1. vulnerability to an ; 2. from a variety of risk factors III. THE SEVERITY OF FOOD INSECURITY . inability to manage those risks 3. because of an When analyzing food insecurity, it is not enough to Indeed, a person can be vulnerable to hunger even if know the duration of the problem that people are he or she is not actually hungry at a given point in time. experiencing, but also how intense or severe the impact Vulnerability analysis suggests two main intervention of the identified problem is on the overall food security : options and nutrition status. This knowledge will influence the nature, extent and urgency of the assistance needed by to the hazard; degree of exposure 1. Reduce the affected population groups. . cope 2. Increase the ability to Different ‘scales’ or ‘phases’ to ‘grade’ or ‘classify’ By accounting for vulnerability, food security policies and food security have been developed by food security programs broaden their efforts from addressing current analysts using different indicators and cut-off points or constraints to food consumption, to include actions that ‘benchmarks’. Examples include: address future threats to food security. also Measuring the Severity of Undernourishment Box 2. Analyzing the Risk of Becoming Food The measure for hunger compiled by FAO, defined as Insecure undernourishment , refers to the proportion of the whose dietary energy consumption is less population For example, we may be interested in analyzing the risk than a pre-determined threshold. This threshold is of becoming food insecure as a result of a flood. country specific and is measured in terms of the number of kilocalories required to conduct sedentary or light If a household lives outside a flood plain then the activities. The undernourished are also referred to as exposure to flooding is low and therefore the risk of a food deprivation . suffering from flood causing the household to become food insecure is 2

3 An Introduction to the Basic Concepts of Food Security deprivation that relate to human capabilities including low (unless their crops are in the valley!). consumption and food security, health, education, rights, voice, security, dignity and decent work.” However, if they live on the flood plain, but they have the - Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) ability to cope with the hazard, for example by being very uides mobile, and being able to move their animals and/or food crops to safety, then the risk may still be low. It is argued that a strategy for attacking poverty in conjunction with policies to ensure food security offers the best hope of swiftly reducing mass poverty and V. HUNGER, MALNUTRITION AND POVERTY hunger. However, recent studies show that economic growth alone will not take care of the problem of food Practical G It is important to understand how these three concepts security. What is needed is a combination of: are related to food insecurity. - income growth; supported by Hunger is usually understood as an uncomfortable or - direct nutrition interventions; and painful sensation caused by insufficient food energy - investment in health, water and education. consumption. Scientifically, hunger is referred to as food deprivation. FIND OUT MORE: Food Security Information for Action E-learning Simply put, all hungry people are food insecure, but not all food insecure people are hungry, as there are other These guidelines are taken from the e-learning course “Food causes of food insecurity, including those due to poor Security Concepts and Frameworks” available at: intake of micro-nutrients. results from deficiencies, excesses or Malnutrition Further Reading imbalances in the consumption of macro- and/or micro- Devereux, S. 2006 Distinguishing between chronic and nutrients. Malnutrition may be an outcome of food transitory food insecurity in emergency needs assessments. insecurity, or it may relate to non-food factors , such as: SENAC. WFP. Rome. - inadequate care practices for children, - insufficient health services; and Dilley M. Coming to terms with and Boudreau T.E. vulnerability: a critique of the food security definition. Food - an unhealthy environment. Policy, Volume 26, Number 3, June 2001 , pp. 229-247(19) is undoubtedly a cause of hunger, lack poverty While . 2003. Focus on Food Insecurity and Vulnerability – A FAO of adequate and proper nutrition itself is an underlying review of the UN System Common Country Assessments cause of poverty. and World Bank Poverty Reduction Strategy Papers. FIVIMS Secretariat and Wageningen University and Research Centre: A current and widely used definition of poverty is: . 1981. Poverty and Famines: An Essay on Sen, A.K “Poverty encompasses different dimensions of Entitlements and Deprivation. Oxford. Clarendon Press. Zezza, A Stamoulis, K. and . 2003. A Conceptual Framework Figure 1: Food insecurity, malnutrition and poverty are for National Agricultural, Rural Development, and Food Security deeply interrelated phenomena Strategies and Policies. ESA Working Paper No. 03-17, November 2003. Agricultural and Development Economics Poverty Division, FAO, Rome. asp?url_file=/docrep/007/ae050e/ae050e00.htm WFP .2005. Emergency Food Security Assessment Handbook. section1.pdf Food insecurity, hunger and Low productivity This document is available online at: malnutrition For more resources see: © FAO 2008 Published by the EC - FAO Food Security Programme Poor physical and cognitive website: development e-mail: [email protected] 3

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