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Advancing a new index for measuring household vulnerability to food insecurity


  • Ibok, Otu W.
  • Osbahr, Henny
  • Srinivasan, Chittur


This paper develops a Vulnerability to Food Insecurity Index (VFII). Currently, there is no standard indicator of vulnerability analysis in food security research, and this paper responds to this challenge. The primary objective in this paper is to demonstrate how to develop a potential indicator and establish its validity through comparison with other traditional food security indicators, such as per capita calorie consumption (PCC), food consumption score (FCS) and the coping strategy index (CPI). Structurally, Vulnerability to Food Insecurity Index is a multidimensional index of the probability of covariate shock occurring (exposure), the accumulative experience of food insecurity (sensitivity) and coping ability of households (adaptive capacity). The paper applies the index to households in southern Nigeria, using the World Bank’s generalised household panel dataset. The results show 61% of households in the study to be highly vulnerable to food insecurity, 12% mildly vulnerable and 27% not vulnerable. Traditional and single indicators, such as FCS and PCC are not good indicators of vulnerability to food insecurity whereas CPI is a better indicator of vulnerability to food insecurity compared to FCS and PCC. The VFII developed in this paper includes components of FCS, PCC, and CPI and regarding ranking, the VFII was found to be reliable. Most importantly, the analysis using the VFII reveals how dietary diversity or calorie consumption indicators can exclude some households who are vulnerable to food insecurity. The paper concluded that accurately target long-term support to vulnerable households, policymakers who seek to address the underlying causes of food insecurity cannot rely on single indicators, and for this type of goal, the VFII makes a useful contribution.

Suggested Citation

  • Ibok, Otu W. & Osbahr, Henny & Srinivasan, Chittur, 2019. "Advancing a new index for measuring household vulnerability to food insecurity," Food Policy, Elsevier, vol. 84(C), pages 10-20.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:jfpoli:v:84:y:2019:i:c:p:10-20
    DOI: 10.1016/j.foodpol.2019.01.011

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Christiaensen, Luc J.M. & Boisvert, Richard N., 2000. "On Measuring Household Food Vulnerability: Case Evidence from Northern Mali," Working Papers 127676, Cornell University, Department of Applied Economics and Management.
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    Cited by:

    1. Tadesse, Getaw & Abate, Gashaw T. & Zewdie, Tadiwos, 2020. "Biases in self-reported food insecurity measurement: A list experiment approach," Food Policy, Elsevier, vol. 92(C).


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