United Nations System
Report of the Meeting of the Working Group on Household Food Security
Sunday 11 April, 1999, UNHCHR, Geneva
Milla McLachlan introduced the session. There were three topics from last year that needed to be taken forward:
Three main themes to be discussed in the current session were:
Locating Food Security at the National and Regional Levels
Hartwig de Haen (FAO) presented FIVIMS (Food Insecurity Vulnerability Information and Mapping Systems), described how it will help countries to answer 1) who are the food insecure, 2) where are they located, and 3) why are they food insecure in the first place. Steps and situations where FIVIMS can be implemented, multi-donor support to FIVIMS, and interagency cooperation in reinforcing country applications were also discussed using an Ecuador case study provided by WFP as an example.
Targeting of projects at the community level
John Hoddinott (IFPRI) reported on a collaborative study with IFAD on how existing data can be used to target rural poverty projects. Using existing data from Cote dIvoire, the initiative identified correlates of per capita income at the community level. Simple questionnaires were designed to collect new information on these correlates, and administered to the 600 communities in the IFAD project region. IFAD resources could engage only 200 communities, and the problem was to identify the 200 poorest using a simple method. It took 6 weeks to cover the 600 villages. The cost of the initial exercise was $75,000 or $0.5 per beneficiary, less than 1% of the project costs. One would expect these costs to substantially decline as the exercise becomes more routine.
Targeting Food aid in emergencies within Communities
Arnold Timmers (UNHCR) presentation highlighted the importance and difficulties of targeting food aid in emergency situations and within communities. A qualitative rapid appraisal method was used to target food aid. This approach offers a way of finding out how poor, middle and better off households in refugee situations are living, also making use of information using peoples own definitions of poor and non poor households. The challenge is to target food aid without discriminating in a disrupted social structure.
Targeting in the context of an economic crisis- Indonesia
Martin Bloems (HKI) presentation focussed on the nutritional problems in Indonesia following the current economic and financial crisis. Data collected by HKI found that there has been an increase in childhood wasting, childhood anaemia, vitamin A deficiency, and maternal anaemia and a decreased intake of animal-source foods. These problems were particularly severe for the urban areas.
Agency information sharing
Written Agency Reports were received from FAO, WHO, UNICEF, the World Bank and IFPRI.
More capacity building on the use of indicators during all phases of program and project design and implementation is needed at the country level and the community level. There should be a bottom up approach to assure sustainability. This would allow for the use of qualitative and quantitative indicators, would increase community participation in these programs, and is consistent with a rights-based approach.
Objectives need to be known and made clear from the beginning. The right instrument for the specified objective needs to be selected.
A livelihood security approach may be more inclusive than a narrower focus on food security and nutrition security only. Nutritional status indicators are used, e.g. by CARE International, to track livelihood security.
Economic crises have affected nutrition. How can a country provide a safety net to maintain nutritional gains and ensure sustainability of all that has been achieved ? The depletion of savings was presented as an indicator of vulnerability in conditions of economic crisis.
A brief presentation was made on a proposed research project on the development and introduction of new sweet potato cultivars in rural Mozambique, under the auspices of the Mozambique Ministry of Health. IFPRI, HKI, World Vision and local partners are involved.
Proposed areas for work of the Household Food Security Working Group in 1999-2000:
It was suggested that the linkages between macro changes, including trade and economic and sectoral reforms, and efforts to address household food security at local level should be highlighted. One possibility may be to hold a symposium on this with international financial institutions including the World Bank, the IMF and WTO. The Working Group should explore this option in consultation with the Working Group on Nutrition, Human Rights and Ethics.
Case studies of innovative programs which demonstrate the practical application of a rights based approach to nutrition and food security, should be prepared by agencies for discussion at future meetings.