Food Security Measurements and Indicators

Professor Rohanie Maharaj Programme Coordinator Food Science and Technology, Department of Chemical Engineering, UWI, St. Augustine FOOD SECURITY MEASUREMENTS AND INDICATORS-Part I



“What we eat starts with the seeds we plant and the food systems we have in place” José Graziano da Silva 2


• Definition of Food Security and Food Insecurity • Global and Regional Statistics • Major Indicators of Food Security • Methods to Measure Food Security/Insecurity • The ECCU Context • ECCU-Opportunities and Investment Priorities


Definition of Food Security and Food Insecurity : Sustainable Food, Agriculture & Human Nutrition A Top Global Priority

Improper Nutrition

High Food Prices

Poverty & Hunger

Extreme Weather Conditions 4


Food Security Food Security exists when all people, at all times, have physical, social and economic access to sufficient, safe and nutritious food which meets their dietary needs and food preferences for an active and healthy life ( World Food Summit, 1996 ). Food Insecurity • “A situation that exists when people lack secure access to sufficient amounts of safe and nutritious food for normal growth and development and an active and healthy life. ” Source: FAO

• Nutrition Security “ A situation that exists when secure access to an appropriately nutritious diet is coupled with a sanitary environment, adequate health services and care in order to ensure a health and active lifestyle for all household members.” Source: FAO


Number of Food Insecure People Worldwide

• In 2019, approx. 2 B people did not have regular access to safe, nutritious and sufficient food. • Close to 750 M – or nearly 1 in 10 people – were exposed to severe levels of food insecurity. • 690 M or 8.9% of the world population are undernourished. • COVID-19 pandemic may add between 83 and 132 M people to the total number of under- nourished in the world in 2020. • In 2019, estimates of malnutrition, 21.3% (144.0 M) of children under 5 years of age were stunted, 6.9% (47.0 M) wasted and 5.6% (38.3 M) overweight. • B-Billion; M-Million

Source: FAO , IFAD, UNICEF, WFP and WHO. 2020. The State of Food Security and Nutrition in the World 2020 . Transforming food systems for affordable healthy diets . Rome, FAO.


Food Insecurity Levels in Latin America & the Caribbean (LAC)

▪ In 2019 in LAC, the prevalence of

Number of undernourished (millions)

undernourishment was 7.4 % , below the world prevalence of 8.9 %. ▪ Approx. 48 M undernourished people in LAC, of which 7.2 M are from the Caribbean. ▪ LAC region has seen a rise in the number of undernourished people increasing by 9 M between 2015 and 2019.

2005 2010 2015 2016 2017 2018 2019 * 48.6 39.6 38.8 42.4 43.5 46.6

2030 ** 66.9




8.4 7.2 7.4 7.3 7.1 7.3



Latin America

40.1 32.4 31.4 35.1 36.3 39.3 40.5


Central America

11.8 12.4 13.4 14.7 14.4 14.7 16.6


South America

28.4 20.0 18.0 20.4 21.9 24.6 24.0 35.7

Source: FAO , IFAD, UNICEF, WFP and WHO. 2020. The State of Food Security and Nutrition in the World 2020 . Transforming food systems for affordable healthy diets . Rome, FAO.


Major Indicators of Food Security


The Four Pillars of Food Security 1. Availability

2. Access Access by individuals to adequate resources for acquiring appropriate foods for a nutritious diet.

The availability of sufficient quantities of food of appropriate quality, supplied through domestic production or imports .

Food Security

3. Utilization Utilization of food through adequate diet, clean water, sanitation and health care to reach a state of nutritional well-being where all physiological needs are met .

4. Stability To be food secure, a population, household or individual must have access to adequate food at all times. They should not risk losing access to food as a consequence of sudden shocks (e.g. COVID-19).


Food Security Indicators

An assessment of Food Security will rely on indicators (are estimates of the extent to which food insecurity exists) which are derived from the four pillars and drawn from data at different levels.





• Child-care and feeding practices • Food safety & quality • Quality of water • Nutrition education • Health/sanitation • Anthropometry

• Purchasing power

• Population & its distribution • Education levels • Household characteristics • Livelihood systems • Coping strategies

• Domestic production • Food imports • Food stocks

• Household assets • Food distribution • Transport and market access • Food prices


‘‘no perfect single measure that captures all aspects of food insecurity’’

Food Insecurity and Diets • Food insecurity can worsen diet quality and consequently increase the risk of various forms of malnutrition, potentially leading to undernutrition as well as overweight and obesity. • Low-income countries rely more on staple foods and less on fruits and vegetables and animal source foods than high-income countries. • Healthy diets are unaffordable to many people, especially the poor, in every region of the world. • Healthy diets are estimated to be, on average, five times more expensive than diets that meet only dietary energy needs through a starchy staple. Source :


Methods to Measure Food

Security/ Insecurity


Dietary Intake Assessment (DIA)-adequacy of dietary intakes


Anthropometry-childhood nutritional status

Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) method for estimating calories available per capita at the national level

Household Expenditure Survey Method (HESM)

Food Insecurity Experience Scale (FIES)

Global Food Security Index (GFSI)


Dietary Intake Assessment (DIA)

The individual's dietary intake measured through different methods: i) 24-hour recall; ii) food frequency questionnaires; iii) food records kept by individuals or by an observer.

Disadvantages: • Memory recall bias • High intra-subject variability in food and nutrient intakes • Difficult to assess portion sizes • Food composition tables need to be of high quality and culturally appropriate • Uncertainty about human requirements for most nutrients • High cost for inclusion of 24 – hour recalls in national surveys • National data unavailable annually

Advantages: • Measures actual food consumption • Can assess short, medium and long-term food intake • Deals with both dietary quality and quantity • Identifies at risk households and individuals



Defined as the measurement of size, weight, body proportions and ultimately the composition of the human body. Anthropometric indicators commonly used in national surveys are based on weight and height (or length) of infants, young children, youth and adults.

Advantages: • Highly standardized • Evidence-based cut- off points • Inexpensive • Frequently applied in national surveys

Disadvantages: • Indirect approximation to food insecurity, as they measure nutritional status • The interpretation of the relationship between food insecurity and obesity is complex, as there is growing evidence that whereas severe food insecurity leads to wasting, mild to moderate food insecurity may lead to obesity 4 . Individuals in this food insecurity category may rely heavily on cheap high-energy low nutrient density foods.


The FAO Method Estimates calories per capita at the country level using Food Balance Sheets and energy intake variance data derived from household income and expenditure surveys. Countries need the following information to be able to apply this method: i) total calories available in year of interest; ii) number of people living in country in year of interest; iii) coefficient of variation of caloric intake to generate the energy intake distribution curve; iv) cut-off point to estimate the proportion of the population falling under the minimum per capita average caloric requirement.

Advantage: • Inexpensive, • applied worldwide on an annual basis Disadvantage:

• Does not identify at risk households, • Dietary quality not taken into account • High measurement error • Low standardization on data collection methods across countries


Household Expenditure Survey Method (HESM) • This method is based on interviewing respondents in their households. Respondents provide information on the amount of money that they spend on food and other necessities. The following inputs are needed to be able to take full advantage of this method: i) quantity of food bought (or expenditures) and costs associated with different foods consumed within and outside the house; ii) foods received by any household member as either a gift or as payment for work, goods or services; iii) foods grown for consumption by household members. This method estimates calories consumed on average per household member per day, making it essential to have access to culturally appropriate and valid food composition tables. • Advantages: • it allows for the identification of households at risk of food insecurity, thus in addition to mapping from the local to the national level, the determinants and consequence of food insecurity can be examined; • it collects dietary quality data that can be taken into account to understand the dimension of the food insecurity construct; • it can be used to evaluate national food and nutrition, and anti-poverty programs. Disadvantages: • Measures food available but not necessarily consumed during period of interest • Difficult to estimate foods consumed outside the household, fed to animals, exchanged as gifts or payment of work • Difficult to standardize methodology across countries

• Expensive and logistically difficult • Data usually not available annually


Food Insecurity Experience Scale (FIES) • The FIES is experience-based measures of household or individual food insecurity. Consists of 8 questions on self-reported food-related behaviors and experiences associated with increasing difficulties in accessing food due to resource constraints. • During the last 12 months, was there a time when, due to lack of money or other resources: 1.You were worried you would not have enough food to eat? 2.You were unable to eat healthy and nutritious food? 3.You ate only a few kinds of foods? 4.You had to skip a meal? 5.You ate less than you thought you should?

6.Your household ran out of food? 7.You were hungry but did not eat? 8.You went without eating for a whole day?

Sources : Ballard et al. 2013; Hendriks 2015


Global Food Security Index (GFSI)

• The Global Food Security Index (GFSI) is a complex index developed by the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU). • The index is a dynamic quantitative and qualitative benchmarking model constructed from 59 unique indicators that measure the drivers of food security across both developing and developed countries. • It includes direct factors related to food security, such as food supply, the share of food in total individual spending, level of poverty or nutritional policies, but also extends and covers indirect factors such as availability of financial services, corruption, political steadiness, etc. • GFSI indicators are measured at the national level and not at the household level, assessing the average status in each country and extends to over 113 countries (EIU, 2018).


The ECCU Context



Country Merchandise Trade Units

2019 2020

ECCU Total Exports ECCU Total Imports

EC$M 765.46 637.27 EC$M 8,306.97 6,417.38


Food & Live Animals

1,624.31 1,387.22

1 Beverages and Tobaco 331.08 237.23 2 Crude Materials, Inedible Except Fuels 182.5 141.51 3 Mineral Fuels & Related Materials 1,168.2 815.82 4 Animal & Vegetable Oils, Fats &Waxes 30.53 30.39 5 Chemicals & Related Products 640.58 585.98 6 Manufactured Goods 1,364.03 1,002.74 7 Machinery & Transport Equipment 1,819.39 1,431.1 8 Miscellaneous Manufactured Articles 1,091.49 778.49 9 Commodities & Transactions not classified elsewhere in SITC 54.87 6.91

ECCU Country-Population

2020 15,500



Source :

GDP per capita and share of agriculture in GDP

Agriculture has played a central role in the ECCU economies. In countries such as Dominica , St. Vincent & the Grenadines, and Grenada agriculture is still an important sector in the economy. It contributes between 17 % and 7 % of GDP but has a significantly larger share of employment. Economic growth is the most powerful instrument for reducing poverty and undernutrition, and for improving the quality of life in developing countries.


Source :

OECS Snapshot

Climate Change/ Natural Disasters

High Energy Costs

• Reliance on Imported Foods • Improve contribution of Agriculture to GDP • High levels of unemployment for young workers • Aging Farming Population & Inadequate farming systems • Prevalence of nutrition and public health related diseases • Climate Change and Natural Disasters • COVID 19 Pandemic • Data for defining and monitoring of food security appears to be inadequate

Problematic Water Supply

Growing Demand for Food

Injection of Capital Funds

Scarce Foreign Reserves


Food & Nutrition Security

• Food availability is increasingly derived from imports : food import dependence, loss of foreign exchange and increased consumption of processed calorie dense foods leading to non-communicable diseases (NCDs) and places a burden on the fragile health care systems. • Accessibility High levels of income inequality and unemployment result in a high proportion (> than 20%) of the population living below the national poverty line despite the income classification. • Food utilization is of course affected by capacity to purchase, food choices and food preparation. High priced quality food is out of reach of the poor and unemployed. Food choices of these groups often favour of inferior products (imported processed canned meats and fried foods) that contribute to the high levels of obesity and NCDs observed in the region. • Stability Caribbean region’s risk due to the high occurrence of tropical storms, floods, droughts and earthquakes and now COVID-19 and volcanic activity.

Caribbean Prevalence of Under & Over-Nutrition: 1991-2015







% of population






1 Caribbean Prevalence of Undernourishment (%) Caribbean Prevalence of Overnourishment %


Cost of Nutritious Food

Priorities to reduce the cost of nutritious foods and ensure affordability of healthy diets • Reorientation of agricultural priorities towards more nutrition-sensitive food and agricultural production. • Policy decisions and investments to raise productivity and encourage diversification in food production • Eliminate policies that penalize food and agricultural production (through direct or indirect taxation). • Reduce taxation of nutritious foods. • Investment in irrigation infrastructure • Investment in R&D

What is driving the cost of nutritious food? • Low productivity • Insufficient diversification to nutritious foods • Pre-harvest and post-harvest losses • Quality and efficiency of the road and transportation network • Lack of food and agricultural policies • Trade policies affect the cost and affordability of healthy diets • Globalization has increased levels of food sold through supermarkets: “supermarket revolution”.


ECCU-Opportunities and Investment Priorities


ECCU-Opportunities and Investment Priorities

• Polices related to food security and poverty reduction • Synergies between agriculture and food security to prevent malnutrition and the rise of obesity • Investment in transformation of the agri-food sector by creating incentives and an enabling environment for business • Clustering of smallholders has proven successful in achieving economies of scale to enable growers to purchase cheaper production inputs and increase their bargaining power when selling produce • Investing in scientific research . A strong domestic research capability is essential to identify and adapt promising technologies to local conditions. • Strengthening public health capacity for early detection, traceability and quarantine services to prevent the entry, establishment, and spread of pests and diseases in plants and livestock.


ECCU-Opportunities and investment priorities • Environmental sustainability and enhanced climate change resilience through integrated water resource management, development of climate smart agriculture, including the development of crop varieties better adapted to the expected effects of climate change. • Investment opportunities to strengthen trade and value chain linkages e.g. Invest in air, maritime transport infrastructure, ports; stimulate intra- regional cooperation on trade and value chains. • Design and Support Implementation in the development of National Food Safety strategies, Quality Assurance programmes, strengthen Good Handling and Hygiene Practices (GHP), the implementation of Good Manufacturing Practices (GMP) and HACCP in selected food industries.


Impact of Disasters on Food Security in the ECCU • Threatens to undermine the gains made in recent years in the prevention and control of diet-related NCDs.

• Temporary lockdowns have resulted in panic-buying and stockpiling and created a sense of food insecurity at the country level. • Significant dietary shifts away from fresh produce towards non-perishable, energy-dense, nutrient-poor, processed foods high in fats, salt, and sugars, leading to overweight and obesity. • The loss of nutritious meals by children who benefit from national school meals programmes is another casualty of the COVID-19 pandemic. • These threats further exacerbated by droughts, and an anticipated above-average hurricane season, and other disasters like the imminent volcanic eruption. 29

Impact of COVID- 19 Pandemic

Increasing Resilience of Food Production Systems Resilience is defined as the ability to cope with or adapt to stress, or as the capacity to persist in the face of change (Burton, 2012); (a) reducing vulnerability through sustainable agriculture; (b) developing guidelines, enforcing laws and regulations; (c) strengthening early warning, vulnerability information and forecasting systems; (d) establishing collaborative partnerships and institutional arrangements; and (e) adopting quantitative risk and impact assessment procedures.


Increase Food Production and Diversification Policy and

Reduction in Food production taxes

programmes for access to healthy foods

ECCU and Food Security

Food Security

Investment in Infrastructure, Intra-regional trade and R&D

Financial and Physical Access

Income Support

31 The CARICOM Action Committee on Food and Nutrition Security (CACFNS )

Closing Comments

…..Can we - Grow what we eat & eat what we grow? …..Can we – Reduce our food import bill by 25% in 5 years? …..Can we – Export much more Unique Value Propositions?

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Breadfruit Chips


Value-Added Products

World Famous Grenada Nutmeg

Julie Mangoes originated in the C’bbean



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