Food Security Essay

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Executive summary Increasingly, policy-makers and programme implementers have been seeking measurement techniques for food insecurity and hunger that are simple to use and easy to analyse. The present paper reviews experiences to date on qualitative measures and discusses the potential for expanded use of these methods, particularly in developing countries. Until recently, concepts of food insecurity and hunger in many countries have been linked to clinical signs of malnutrition. There has been a clear need to provide sensitive indicators of food insufficiency and hunger that are poverty-driven and not limited to clinical definitions. Rigorous research in the 1990s led to the development of methodologically sophisticated and empirically grounded measurement scales for food insecurity and hunger. A food security module was administered in April 1995, as part of a nationally representative sample of 45 000 American households. The 18 -question module provided a means of measuring both the prevalence of food security and the severity of hunger in the United States. Validation of the food security scale found that food insecurity is significantly negatively correlated with income and household food expenditures. The qualitative food security scale also correlated significantly with the more traditional measures, such as energy intake per capita. Many countries have moved in the direction of exploring the development and use of qualitative food security measures. These measures are well grounded in science and, once the developmental work for the methods is completed, are quick to administer and analyse. The information from these methods also provides a concept of food security that is well understood by policy-makers. A major advantage is that qualitative measures incorporate as essential elements the perceptions of food insecurity and hunger by the people most

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