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Food Security Assessments in Emergencies : A Livelihoods Approach

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Michael D. McDonald's picture
Michael D. McDonald
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Joined: 2010-11-01

 

 

Food security, or rather insecurity, is at the heart of food crises and food-related emergencies. It is an underlying cause of malnutrition and mortality (see Figure 1 overleaf), and a significant factor in longer- term livelihood security. Food insecurity may cause irreparable damage to livelihoods, thereby reducing self-sufficiency. It is therefore part of the process leading to malnutrition, morbidity and mortality. In addition, the state of being food insecure directly contr ibutes to destitution and damaged livelihoods in the long term. In other words, if there is acute food insecurity, there is a nutritional risk.

 

Depending on their mandates and the aims of their assessment, different agencies have developed different approaches to assessing food security in emergencies. However, the theory behind each approach is based on the same underlying concept. This concept incorporates issues of availability and access to food, and acknowledges that, in an emergency, people may adopt a variety of coping strategies in response to food insecurity.The concept also includes issues around vulnerability, and sees famine as a process, comprising distinct stages (MSF- H, 1997). Methodologies are also similar, and largely depend on secondary information sources and rapid-assessment techniques, such as interviews, focus groups and proportional piling (MSF-H, 1997; UNHCR/WFP/ENN, 2000; on these terms, see the Annex, page 32).

 

For More Information:

 

http://www.odihpn.org/documents/networkpaper036.pdf