To determine how widespread food insecurity is among the population and compare the food security status of households with OVC to the food security status of households without OVC.
This indicator measures the level of household food insecurity within the population, specifically those households with severe hunger. The ratio consists of households with orphaned and vulnerable children versus households that are not taking care of orphans or other vulnerable children but do contain children.
(1) Proportion (%) of households with OVC that are food insecure. Numerator 1: Number of sampled households with OVC that are food insecure. Denominator 1: Number of sampled households with OVC.
(2) Proportion (%) of households with children that are not taking care of OVC. Numerator 2: Number of sampled households with children that are not taking care of OVC and are food insecure. Denominator 2: Number of sampled households with children that are not taking care of OVC.
OVC food insecurity ratio: Ratio of (1) proportion of households with OVC that are food insecure to (2)
proportion of households without OVC, but with other children, that are food insecure.
In a household survey the head of the household is asked a series of questions that characterize households having difficulty meeting their food eeds. These questionnaires begin by assessing mild food insecurity and slowly progress through moderate to severe food insecurity. The questions and the determination of food security status generally follow this format:
Food secure No worries about food security status Worries that food might run out
Food insecure Inability to diversify diet/reliance on low-cost food Adult cut size of serving or skipped meal
Food insecure with moderate hunger Adult cut size of serving or skipped meal repeatedly over the course of a year Adult lost weight Size of childs meal was cut
Food insecure with severe hunger Child forced to skip meal Adult and child forced to go entire days without eating
The progression follows a well-documented pattern. The inability to maintain diversity in diet is generally seen as the first sign of problems, followed by reduction in the size of meals, then skipping meals, and finally, going entire days without eating. This scale recognizes that adults are often forced to forgo food so that children can eat, therefore, it recognizes that when children begin to have a reduction in their meals or are forced to skip meals the problem has reached a new level of severity sacrifices made by the adults are no longer sufficient to buffer the children from waning food stocks. If necessary, the questions that relate to less severe forms of food insecurity can be eliminated from the questionnaires to cut down on the number of questions. This is a decision that must be made by those implementing the survey.
Geographic location: N/A
Pregnancy status: N/A
Time period: N/A
Type of orphan: N/A
Vulnerability status: N/A
The indicator is at the household level, not the individual level as are most other indicators. Thus, it is not the food security status of the orphaned and vulnerable children that is measured but rather the food security status of the household as a whole. This enables a comparison to be made between households (OVC vs. non-OVC with children) but not between orphaned and vulnerable children and other children. The indicator is thus unable to take into account differences in food security status that might exist within the household unit itself. To address this problem, it would be necessary to ask these questions to the orphaned and vulnerable children themselves, but this is only possible when they are old enough to understand and answer the questions put to them. In so doing, it would limit comparisons with orphans in other age groups. There is also the possibility that the head of household could be asked a modified set of questions specifically about the orphan. It is not sure, however, that a head of household would admit to depriving the orphan of adequate amounts of food in order to ensure that the rest of the household did not suffer. Consequently, if there is not a way to measure food allocation patterns within the household, the only alternative is to compare the food security status of households with OVC to that of households without OVC. This comparison could be examined in relation to the nutrition (anthropometric) indicator (core indicator 2) of OVC and non-OVC to check for consistency.
Appropriate statistical methods are used to combine responses to the selected questions in order to create a scaled measure of household food security. When reporting to the public or to policy makers, expert attention should be given to identifying thresholds to demarcate ranges of severity that are meaningful in the local context and to choosing language to name and describe the ranges so that prevalence statistics can be understood and correctly interpreted. As these measures become more reliable and accepted they are likely to be used increasingly for resource prioritization (targeting); thus serious consequences to human welfare could result if their meanings are not clearly understood.