Data on food access are mainly collected at the household level and refer to food consumption in terms of dietary energy (calories), quality and diversity, and monetary value. Perception or experience-based measures of food deprivation and coping strategies (changes in food eating patterns and steps to alleviate food shortage), at household level or at the individual level, are also used.
Quantities of food consumed/acquired over a certain period of time in the household by sex of the head of household. Based on this minimum set of data, a variety of measures can be constructed, such as the Dietary Energy Consumption/Acquisition (DEC), the share of calories from protein/carbohydrates/fats, the contribution of each acquisition source to the total calories (if sources are collected), dietary energy unit values (if household expenditures or prices are collected). The dietary energy consumption/acquisition should be adjusted for the sex and age composition of the household (i.e. use of adult equivalents).
Frequency of consumption for specific food groups over a certain period of time by sex of the head of household. According to the type of data collected and recall period, information can be used to construct measures of food quality and diversity such as the Food Consumption Score (see WFP, 2009a), the Household Dietary Diversity Score (see FAO, 2011a) or both, as prescribed in the existing guidelines.
Insufficient food supply and intake; insufficient food quality; and anxiety about food as reported by households, by sex of the head of household. These data can be used to construct perception or experience-based measures of food deprivation such as the Household Hunger Scale and the Escala Latinoamericana y Caribeña de Seguridad Alimentaria.
Data on seasonality of food shortages (months in which food shortage occurred); reported changes in eating patterns (i.e. skipping meals, eating less expensive and less nutritious food; cutting the size of meals); and reported steps taken to alleviate food shortage (i.e. use of savings; taking loans; selling land; getting help from relatives etc.), by sex of the head of household. Such data should also be collected in relation to major shocks, including natural disasters.
When possible, experience-based measures of food security at the individual level should also be considered and results should be provided disaggregated by sex, age and other individual and household characteristics. For example, the Food Insecurity Experience Scale (FIES), based on a set of eight questions designed to reveal whether and how respondents have experienced food insecurity in the previous 12 months, is being piloted by FAO in collaboration with Gallup Inc. Data are to be collected at individual level, thus making possible to estimate the severity of food insecurity by sex, age and other individual characteristics. The use of an individual measure of the experience of food insecurity represents a novelty, since most often food security is measured at the household level, and an important step in measuring food insecurity from a gender perspective.
The household-level measures above should be calculated separately for female- and male-headed households and further disaggregated by demographic and socio-economic characteristics of the head (including education and economic characteristics) and of the household (including household size; composition, dependency level, income level, livelihood strategies/portfolio of economic activities) to understand which types of male / female-headed households are disadvantaged in accessing food.
Further breakdowns relevant for targeting aid and development programmes should be considered for all the data above. Commonly used are urban/rural areas and geographic regions. Measures of remoteness from market places, including information on transportation and infrastructure, should also be considered. Additional data for cross tabulation may refer to sex-differentiated access to property and productive resources in agriculture (see sub-section “Access to productive resources in agriculture” in the section “Work”, Chapter 2).