FAO pilots new tool to measure global hunger

Women store away grains in Kenya to serve as cushion during crop failure. Photo by: FAO

The world may soon trace hunger better, as a new metric by the Food and Agriculture Organization undergoes testing in four African countries.

This ”new, faster and more precise way of measuring hunger and food insecurity” is the Voices of the Hungry pilot project that FAO began rolling out this month in Angola, Ethiopia, Malawi and Niger. After testing, FAO plans to expand the project to more than 160,000 participants in 150 countries over the course of five years.

The project takes the form of an annual survey that measures the extent and the severity of hunger among food-insecure people. It charts food access at the individual level and looks into the actual experience of food insecurity, instead of only indicating the caloric intake of respondents. The old method only tracks food availability at the national level.

Under the new metric, survey results will be released within a few days, allowing FAO real-time analysis of data.

Voices of the Hungry

Between 1,000 and 5,000 people per country, depending on the country size, will be tapped to answer the following:

During the last 12 months, was there a time when, because of lack of money or other resources:

  1. You were worried you would run out of food?

  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?

The project is seen to be the first step in the creation of a new FAO-certified standard for food security monitoring.

FAO is currently pooling funds for the project’s likely expansion and is now consulting with potential resource partners. The pilot project is backed by a separate initiative.

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About the author

  • Johanna Morden

    Johanna Morden is a community development worker by training and a global development journalist by profession. As a former Devex staff writer based in Manila, she covered the Asian Development Bank as well as Asia-Pacific's aid community at large. Johanna has written for a variety of international publications, covering social issues, disasters, government, ICT, business, and the law.