Effectively assessing household food security status
This blog by the ICCO Cooperation is about the Household Food Insecurity Access Scale (HFIAS), a standardized, robust and cost-efficient tool to measure the occurrence and severity of food insecurity, and recommendations to make its data more reliable. Measurement tools are key to draw lessons and generate reliable evidence on what policies and programs work best to improve food and nutrition security. According to ICCO Cooperation, the HFIAS tool strikes a good balance between practical field-level applicability and reliability of the ensuing data. HFIAS is a questionnaire that relates to various domains of the food insecurity experience. It is validated as a reliable tool to assess food insecurity prevalence and detect changes over time. However, an issue of HFIAS is that it over-reports the occurrence and severity of food insecurity. Furthermore, the categorization system of HFIAS is sensitive and measurement errors can be yielded. Therefore, ICCO Cooperation comes with a two-step recommendation to improve HFIAS. The first step is to reduce measurement errors. This should be done by contextualizing HFIAS to the local situation to reduce social sensitivity, timing the survey in the lean season to not miss food shortages people experience, and train and pilot with enumerators to help collect better data. The second step is to calculate the prevalence scores differently to reduce sensitivity to small variation in input. The importance of questions can be reduced by applying a new categorization scheme. ICCO Cooperation beliefs that increased coordination and harmonization on the use of standardized metrics will facilitate sharing of results and lessons learned as well as the establishment of benchmarks.