Constructing a Database for Food Security Assessments in Southeast Asia

Date01 March 2016
Published date01 March 2016
World Food Policy - Volume 2 Issue 2/Volume 3 Issue 1, Fall 2015/Spring 2016
In September 2015, the United Nations
(UN) decided to adopt the post-2015
development agenda. It consists
of 17 Sustainable Development Goals
(SDGs) as a follow-up to the Millennium
Development Goals which have been
only partly reached. e new goals and
targets aim to stimulate further action
over the coming 15 years in areas of
critical importance for the whole planet
(UN 2015). e second of the 17 SDGs is
directed toward achieving food security
and improved nutrition, among others.
Food security remains a prevailing
problem in many developing countries,
including Southeast Asia. Assessing food
insecurity is oen impaired by the lack
In many Southeast Asian countries, food insecurity remains an important
problem. However, the assessment of food security is oen dicult due to the
lack of adequate data. Studies undertaken by international organizations
are mostly rapid appraisal type of analyses lacking scientic rigor and depth.
Against this background there is a need to establish sound databases, which
allow for more in-depth analyses. Although the collection of data in remote
rural areas of poor countries is challenging, data quality is crucial in order to
advance research on the economics of food security. Own case studies from
Southeast Asia highlight the need to account for multidimensional facets of
food security in data collection. ey highlight the need to dierentiate between
monetary and nonmonetary poverty aspects and to look into diverse livelihood
activities. ey also stress the importance of the time dimension due to price
increases or many other shocks and coping strategies. We suggest incorporating
food security research into long-term panel data projects such as the long-term
panel data project for ailand and Vietnam, which we believe is unique and
valuable also for food security assessments.
Keywords: food security, case studies, database, assessment, Southeast Asia
Ulrike GroteA & Hermann WaibelA
Constructing a Database for Food Security Assessments
in Southeast Asia
A Leibniz University Hannover, Germany
doi: 10.18278/wfp.
Constructing a Database for Food Security Assessments in Southeast Asia
of adequate data. Studies undertaken
by international organizations with a
mandate to solve the food insecurity
problem are mostly rapid appraisal type
of analyses which are not always in-depth
and scientically rigorous. Because of
their aim to provide quick results, these
assessment measures oen focus on
availability and access to food, and give
less emphasis on utilization of food and
long-term stability. Hence, there is a need
for research to better understand the
determinants and drivers of food security
in order to contribute to a long-term
solution of the problem.
Against this background, this
article promotes the notion of establishing
panel databases that allow undertaking
in-depth and causal analyses in food
security. We map out some requirements
for databases that can serve such purposes.
Next to sampling issues, the choice of
regions and the questionnaire design will
be discussed. Also, the use of focus group
discussions has been useful in deriving
some further qualitative insights into
food security.
is article displays the
shortcomings on the use of food security
concepts and measures on the one hand,
and sheds some light on the determinants
of food security of households on the
other hand. Case studies and examples
from selected Southeast Asian countries
are provided.
e article is structured as follows:
following the introduction, the literature
on the status of food security assessments
is reviewed. e dimensions of the food
security concept, its measurement,
and shortcomings as well as some of
its determinants are introduced. e
next section provides case studies from
selected Southeast Asian countries.
Furthermore data requirements for food
security assessment are highlighted. e
last section summarizes and concludes.
Food Security Assessments: A
Literature Review
Dening “food security
The concept of food security
includes manifold denitions
most of which are descriptive.
Maxwell and Frankenberger (1992)
have identied >30 denitions for “food
security” and Hoddinott (1999) claims
that there are ~200 denitions of food
security which are used by dierent
organizations around the world. e
perhaps most accepted and most widely
cited denition of food security has been
phrased at the World Food Summit in
1996 as “a situation when all people,
at all times, have physical, social, and
economic access to sucient, safe, and
nutritious food to meet their dietary
needs and food preferences for an active
and healthy life” (FAO 1996). Food
security has been further specied to
involve four dimensions consisting of
food availability, access, utilization, and
the stability of these conditions (WFP
Food availability refers to the
actual availability of food in physical terms.
It can be either applied at the national
level combining domestic production,
food stocks as well as food imports and
food aid, or it is measured at the regional
or local level (WFP 2009a; 2009b; FAO
2006). Access of a household to food
is the most critical dimension of food
security; accordingly, it is the dimension

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