Food security is a basic human right.  In fact, having access to a sufficient amount of nutritious food may be considered the most fundamental of all human rights. According to USAID, Food security means having, at all times, both physical and economic access to sufficient food to meet dietary needs for a productive and healthy life. A family is food secure when its members do not live in hunger or fear of hunger. Food insecurity is often linked to poverty, and it has long-term consequences for families, communities, and countries' ability to thrive and succeed. Long-term malnutrition hampers growth, inhibits cognitive development, and makes people more susceptible to sickness. Due to natural resource limitations and other constraints, the globe will have to become more efficient in meeting this need. Aligning short-term assistance with a long-term development strategy can help countries feed their own people and ensure that they have enough food.

What are the different levels of food security?

The '4 pillars of food security' are four fundamental components that make up the idea of food security.

Availability - Simply put, availability refers to the presence of food in a community. This is inextricably tied to the efficiency with which food is produced. When there is a scarcity of essential resources, such as water for irrigation, or when land used for food production is damaged or degraded, availability can become a problem.

Access - Having enough food in a community is meaningless if people don't have easy access to it. Individuals with true food security have the resources they require to secure a sufficient quantity and quality of nutritious food. A variety of physical, social, and policy-related factors influence food access. Pricing, household closeness to suppliers, and infrastructure all have an impact on our food access.

Utilization - Not all food has the same or sufficient nutritional value. It is critical to have access to high-quality food in order to be food secure. Food must be nutritious and healthy in order to give the energy that people require for their everyday tasks. Individuals must also have the requisite knowledge and skills to correctly 'use' the food that is accessible to them. This includes the tools needed to appropriately select, prepare, and preserve readily available and accessible foods.

Stability - refers to how food access, availability, and consumption have remained generally steady across time. It's critical to strive to keep any threats to this stability to a minimum. Natural disasters, climate change, conflict, and economic reasons such as fluctuating price changes are all threats to food stability.


What criteria are used to assess food security?

There are five regularly used approaches for determining food security:

  1. At the national level, the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) technique for determining calories available per capita
  2. Income and Expenditure Surveys of Households
  3. a person's dietary habits
  4. anthropometry 
  5. measures for measuring food insecurity based on personal experience.

The goal of an emergency food security assessment (EFSA) is to determine the impact of shock on the food security of affected households and communities. An emergency is defined as a situation that causes widespread human, material, economic, or environmental harm, endangering human lives and livelihoods and exceeding the coping capacities of affected communities and/or government. When living conditions in a region/country change, and it is expected that communities will become vulnerable and/or unable to meet their nutritional needs, a food security assessment may be required. Drought, floods, locust infestation, outbreak of conflict/war, influx of refugees, and the HIV/AIDS pandemic are examples of situations where this can occur prior to or during a sudden hazard or when the situation gradually but consistently becomes alarming.

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