Alternative food-security indicators: revisiting the frequency and severity of 'coping strategies' uri icon

abstract

  • Recent research on the multi-factorial nature of food security has provided a wealth of analytical insight, but measurement problems remain a major challenge, not only for research, but particularly for targeting, program management, monitoring and evaluation. Building on an approach suggested in a 1996 article, this paper constructs a series of alternative food-security indicators based on the frequency and severity of consumption-related coping strategies. These alternative indicators are then compared with more standard measures, including a consumption benchmark, a poverty benchmark and a nutritional benchmark using data from the 1997 Accra Urban Food and Nutrition Study. Against these more traditional indicators, the coping strategy indicators are best at ruling out cases-that is, minimizing the risk of classifying a food-insecure household as food-secure. They also help to identify sources of vulnerability and the trade-offs made with other basic needs to acquire sufficient food. The measures outlined here are much less time-consuming and less expensive in terms of data collection and analysis, and therefore perhaps offer a pragmatic alternative to food and livelihood program managers. However, the comparative analysis of conventional benchmarks with the coping strategies indicator reveals some shortcomings with the benchmark indicators as well-a sign that perhaps the indicators of food security proposed here are both alternative and complementary measures. (C) 1999 Elsevier Science Ltd. All rights reserved.

publication date

  • 1999
  • 1999