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Measuring food security using household expenditure surveys:


  • Smith, Lisa C.
  • Subandoro, Ali


Food is one of the most basic needs for human survival. Access to it is a basic human right. Moreover, the pursuit of the Millennium Development Goal to cut hunger requires a sound understanding of the related food security issues. For these reasons, accurate measurement of the food security status of populations—or their ability to gain access to sufficient high-quality food to enable them to live an active, healthy life—is imperative to all international development efforts. It is necessary for effectively targeting food-insecure populations, researching and planning appropriate interventions, and monitoring progress. As past efforts have shown, accurately estimating the amount of food people eat is costly in terms of time and money, and such measurements have thus been carried out mostly in small populations. Where measurement has been extended to large populations, such as entire countries, it has been necessary to rely on less accurate, indirect techniques based on the availability of food at the national level. This technical guide presents a new avenue for measuring food security, for both small and large populations, based on the data collected as part of household expenditure surveys on the quantities of food acquired by households. It shows how these data can be used to measure a variety of food security indicators, including the prevalence of food energy deficiency and indicators of dietary quality and economic vulnerability to food insecurity. In keeping with the approach of IFPRI's Food Security in Practice series for practitioners, the manual guides readers step by step through the process of assessing the food security status of a population. It begins by offering guidance on choosing an appropriate strategy for calculating quantities of foods acquired by households, given time constraints, financial constraints, and the nature of the population's diet. The guide then leads the practitioner through the steps of collecting the data, processing and cleaning the data, and calculating the indicators. It concludes by illustrating how to conduct some basic food security analyses. I hope that this guide will assist practitioners in increasing the accuracy of the measurement of food insecurity for a greater number of populations, including those at the country level. Greater accuracy at the country level will provide the necessary foundations for overcoming food insecurity globally

Suggested Citation

  • Smith, Lisa C. & Subandoro, Ali, 2007. "Measuring food security using household expenditure surveys:," Food security in practice technical guide series 3, International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI).
  • Handle: RePEc:fpr:fsprac:3

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    Cited by:

    1. Emiliano Magrini & Mauro Vigani, 2016. "Technology adoption and the multiple dimensions of food security: the case of maize in Tanzania," Food Security: The Science, Sociology and Economics of Food Production and Access to Food, Springer;The International Society for Plant Pathology, vol. 8(4), pages 707-726, August.
    2. Joachim De Weerdt & Kathleen Beegle & Jed Friedman & John Gibson, 2016. "The Challenge of Measuring Hunger through Survey," Economic Development and Cultural Change, University of Chicago Press, vol. 64(4), pages 727-758.
    3. Muhammad Masood Azeem & Amin W. Mugera & Steven Schilizzi & Kadambot H. M. Siddique, 2017. "An Assessment of Vulnerability to Poverty in Punjab, Pakistan: Subjective Choices of Poverty Indicators," Social Indicators Research: An International and Interdisciplinary Journal for Quality-of-Life Measurement, Springer, vol. 134(1), pages 117-152, October.
    4. Anríquez, Gustavo & Daidone, Silvio & Mane, Erdgin, 2013. "Rising food prices and undernourishment: A cross-country inquiry," Food Policy, Elsevier, vol. 38(C), pages 190-202.
    5. Anjani Kumar & Ganesh Thapa & Ashok K. Mishra & P. K. Joshi, 2020. "Assessing food and nutrition security in Nepal: evidence from diet diversity and food expenditure patterns," Food Security: The Science, Sociology and Economics of Food Production and Access to Food, Springer;The International Society for Plant Pathology, vol. 12(2), pages 327-354, April.
    6. Adeeba Ishaq & Mahmood Khalid & Eatzaz Ahmad, 2018. "Food Insecurity in Pakistan: A RegionWise Analysis of Trends," PIDE-Working Papers 2018:157, Pakistan Institute of Development Economics.
    7. Harttgen, Kenneth & Klasen, Stephan & Rischke, Ramona, 2016. "Analyzing nutritional impacts of price and income related shocks in Malawi: Simulating household entitlements to food," Food Policy, Elsevier, vol. 60(C), pages 31-43.
    8. Badrun Nessa Ahmed & Hermann Waibel, 2019. "The role of homestead fish ponds for household nutrition security in Bangladesh," Food Security: The Science, Sociology and Economics of Food Production and Access to Food, Springer;The International Society for Plant Pathology, vol. 11(4), pages 835-854, August.
    9. Rudolf, Robert, 2019. "The impact of maize price shocks on household food security: Panel evidence from Tanzania," Food Policy, Elsevier, vol. 85(C), pages 40-54.
    10. Osundahunsi O.F. & Abu T. F.A. & Enujiugha V. N., 2016. "Effects of Food Safety and Food Security on the Economic Transformation of Nigeria," Journal of Agriculture and Crops, Academic Research Publishing Group, vol. 2(7), pages 62-82, 07-2016.
    11. Rashid, Dewan Arif & Smith, Lisa C. & Rahman, Tauhidur, 2011. "Determinants of Dietary Quality: Evidence from Bangladesh," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 39(12), pages 2221-2231.
    12. Cockx, Lara & Colen, Liesbeth & De Weerdt, Joachim, 2018. "From corn to popcorn? Urbanization and dietary change: Evidence from rural-urban migrants in Tanzania," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 110(C), pages 140-159.
    13. Ayala Wineman, 2016. "Multidimensional Household Food Security Measurement in Rural Zambia," Agrekon, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 55(3), pages 278-301, July.
    14. Ogundari, Kolawole, 2013. "Determinants of food-poverty states and the demand for dietary diversity in Nigeria," 2013 Fourth International Conference, September 22-25, 2013, Hammamet, Tunisia 161302, African Association of Agricultural Economists (AAAE).
    15. 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.
    16. Larochelle, Catherine & Alwang, Jeffrey Roger, 2014. "Impacts of Improved Bean Varieties on Food Security in Rwanda," 2014 Annual Meeting, July 27-29, 2014, Minneapolis, Minnesota 170567, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association.
    17. Jean Joël Ambagna & Sandrine Dury & Marie Claude Dop, 2019. "Estimating trends in prevalence of undernourishment: advantages of using HCES over the FAO approach in a case study from Cameroon," Food Security: The Science, Sociology and Economics of Food Production and Access to Food, Springer;The International Society for Plant Pathology, vol. 11(1), pages 93-107, February.
    18. Hameed, Abdul & Padda, Ihtsham ul Haq & Salam, Abdul, 2020. "Estimating the Socio-Economic Factors of Food Insecurity in Pakistan:A Regional Level Analysis," MPRA Paper 102290, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    19. Mariana Romo-Aviles & Luis Ortiz-Hernández, 2018. "Energy and nutrient supply according to food insecurity severity among Mexican households," Food Security: The Science, Sociology and Economics of Food Production and Access to Food, Springer;The International Society for Plant Pathology, vol. 10(5), pages 1163-1172, October.
    20. World Bank, 2015. "Republic of Moldova Food Security Assessment," World Bank Other Operational Studies 21900, The World Bank.
    21. Haysom, Gareth & Tawodzera, Godfrey, 2018. "“Measurement drives diagnosis and response”: Gaps in transferring food security assessment to the urban scale," Food Policy, Elsevier, vol. 74(C), pages 117-125.


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