Food security can be seen as a subset of a broader household livelihood security strategy which is designed to meet basic needs, including food, potable water, health, education, housing, participation in community activities, and leisure time.
As a programming strategy, food security should be considered an organizing principle or integrating framework that can be used across the continuum of emergency, relief and rehabilitation, and sustainable development. The framework emphasizes the development of strong sector-specific programs with synergistic linkages, such as health, agriculture and natural resources, income generation and small enterprise development, education, and reproductive health and family planning. The advantages of using a common framework are that intervention priorities can be established cross-sect orally, depending upon the major constraints facing households, and sector-specific programs can be targeted to the same regions to obtain a multiplier effect on the beneficiary population.
Livelihood Promotion, Protection, and Provisioning
To enhance the livelihood security of vulnerable populations at different levels, a three-pronged approach can be used. This livelihood systems approach is based on the idea that relief, rehabilitation / mitigation and development interventions are a continuum of related activities, not separate and discrete initiatives. Household food, nutrition, and income security can be enhanced by one or a combination of the following three intervention strategies:
Purpose:To improve the resilience of households to meet food and other basic needs on a sustainable basis (development)
Explanation: Activities often aim to reduce the structural vulnerability of livelihood systems by focusing on:
Purpose:To protect households from losing their productive assets or to assist in getting them back (rehabilitation/mitigation)
Explanation:Interventions entail timely food and income transfers that can reduce long-term vulnerabilities resulting from the forced selling of productive assets to meet immediate food and other needs. The negative impacts of livelihood insecurity can be reduced by:
Purpose:To provide food and meet other essential needs for households to maintain nutritional levels and save lives (relief)
Explanation:Interventions usually entail food and health care for people during an emergency (short term) or people who are chronically vulnerable(long term). Targeted food and health activities are critical and, whenever possible, food should be combined with promotion and/or protection interventions, to phase out any food transfers. In relief situations where people have been displaced from their homes(refugees and internally displaced populations who live in camps)interventions may include nutrition, health, HIV/AIDS, and family planning education programs. For chronically vulnerable populations, a community-based mother-child program (MCH) provides food for the most vulnerable families.
Policies and Procedures
In some natural disasters such as an earthquake or flooding, where food production and/or stocks may have been disrupted, resources may be sufficient for a short period. For areas with minimal or no productive capacity, few alternative income generating activities, a depleted natural resource base or high levels of malnutrition, longer-term use of food may be required.
Long-term use of food can be targeted for vulnerable, chronically food-insecure groups, such as female-headed households or children. All long-term projects should incorporate agriculture, health, agro-forestry or income-generating interventions into their programming strategies.
Development of household livelihood security (food security) interventions may or may not require the use of imported food resources.
Consider the following scenarios:
Food resources should only be allocated after a thorough needs analysis of a target population and area. The analysis should include a close examination of food production, supply, and marketing systems in the area and outside. Food aid may disrupt local markets in the distribution area and also negatively influence markets in surrounding regions. Analysis should also project what effect there could be when the project is terminated.
Food aid should be programmed under specific conditions and with certain precautions; to do otherwise would risk a costly and ineffective intervention that creates dependency and acts as a disincentive to local food production. Food programs should be based on CARE food programming principles (adapted fromCARE’s Use of Food Aid: Policy and Guidelines, 1985):
If food is determined to be an appropriate resource, final and intermediate goals and quantifiable indicators should be identified. The following examples show how foodresources can be used (adapted from CARE Haiti Food Aid Procedures Manual, July 1994):
Uses of Food Resources
In finalizing decisions about the use of food resources, consider the following issues:
Once program managers decide that food resources will be used in project activities, they must determine who will receive the food and how often, and what food will be used and how much (ration size and composition).
A targeting strategy should identify a basic unit, such as vulnerable individuals, households, communities or regions. Then criteria should be established to determine when targeted populations are qualified and no longer qualified to receive food. The following are important indicators of nutritional vulnerability:
The groups listed below are known to have distinct food needs:
To determine the appropriate ration size and composition, consider the following factors:
Food selected for distribution is also determined by project objectives. If food is distributed to increase household income, such as food-for-work, a high value food like oil may be more appropriate than a blended food not found indigenously, such as bulgur and soy blends. Conversely, if the project targets vulnerable individuals, soy blends may be more appropriate because of their high nutrient content, texture, and low resale value.
The following example from CARE Haiti’s Procedures Manual shows how to determine the caloric value of food used in a project activity and how to compare it with daily recommended allowances. Total caloric value per day is calculated by dividing the caloric value per 100 grams by one hundred (100) for each food and multiplying that by grams/day. For example, based on grams/day per beneficiary, the total caloric value per day for bulgur in the following table is 354 ÷100 = 3.54 x 125gr/day = 442.5 calories per day.
Preschool/School Feeding Rations
The ration size, frequency of feeding, duration of program, and number of children to be fed provide the basis for determining overall food resource needs for a project.
For example:Children to be fed = 5,000 Duration of program = 9 months Frequency of feeding = 20 days per month Ration size (bulgur) = 125 grams/day x 20 days = 2500grams (2.5 Kg) per month Total Project Needs = 2.5 Kg x 5000 children x 9 months = 112,500Kg (112.5 MT)
This basic calculation can be used to determine total food resources needed for any project. Programs should build in a contingency reserve for potential wastage or loss.
Percentage of Daily Caloric Allowance of CARE Haiti Ration Children in School Feeding Programs
The table above highlights the importance of understanding the needs of the population receiving the food. Data should be collected in the planning stages of the project that determine, at a minimum:
Criteria should be determined for the most appropriate mechanisms for food distribution. Factors to consider include:
Direct distribution refers to food given directly to family heads or individuals. Overall, direct distribution is more resource-intensive than indirect distribution.
Indirect distribution refers to food given to representatives of beneficiaries, such as community leaders, who divide up the food for distribution to families or individuals. Indirect distribution overall may be less resource intensive; however, CARE has little control over how food is distributed by the community representatives. If indirect distribution is used, CARE and counterparts must develop monitoring systems to insure that food is reaches beneficiaries with minimal diversion.
Wet feeding involves the on-site preparation of a mixture of foods. It generally takes place daily and includes complementary activities such as training or immunizations. On-site wet feeding insures that intended recipients consume the specified ration. In addition, wet feeding acts as an incentive for attendance at training interventions.
Dry feedinginvolves distributing food in bulk to family needs. It is administratively much more convenient than wet feeding. Fewer people and resources are involved, there are fewer distribution points, and distributions may occur less often. However, it is more difficult to determine how often and how much of the ration has been consumed by targeted beneficiaries.
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