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Humanitarian Charter and Minimum Standards in Humanitarian Response

Appendix 1

Food security and livelihoods assessment checklists

Food security assessments often broadly categorise the affected population into livelihood groupings, according to their sources of, and strategies for obtaining, income or food. This may also include a breakdown of the population according to wealth groups or strata. It is important to compare the prevailing situation with the history of food security pre-disaster. So-called ‘average normal years’ may be considered as a baseline. The specific roles and vulnerabilities of women and men, and the implications for household food security should be considered.
The following checklist questions cover the broad areas that are usually considered in a food security assessment.

  1. Food security of livelihood groups
    • Are there groups in the population who share the same livelihood strategies? How can these be categorised according to their main sources of food or income?
  2. Food security pre-disaster (baseline)
    • How did the different livelihood groups acquire food or income before the disaster? For an average year in the recent past, what were their sources of food and income?
    • How did these different sources of food and income vary between seasons in a normal year? (Constructing a seasonal calendar may be useful.)
    • Looking back over the past five or ten years, how has food security varied from year to year? (Constructing a timeline or history of good and bad years may be useful.)
    • What kind of assets, savings or other reserves are owned by the different livelihood groups (e.g. food stocks, cash savings, livestock holdings, investments, credit, unclaimed debt, etc.)?
    • Over a period of a week or a month, what do household expenditures include and what proportion is spent on each item?
    • Who is responsible for management of cash in the household and on what is cash spent?
    • How accessible is the nearest market for obtaining basic goods?(Consider distance, security, ease of mobility, availability of market information, transport, etc.)
    • What is the availability and price of essential goods, including food?
    • Prior to the disaster, what were the average terms of trade betweenessential sources of income and food, e.g. wages to food, livestockto food, etc.?
  3. Food security during disaster
    • How has the disaster affected the different sources of food and income for each of the livelihood groups identified?
    • How has it affected the usual seasonal patterns of food security for the different groups?
    • How has it affected access to markets, market availability and prices of essential goods?
    • For different livelihood groups, what are the different coping strategies and what proportion of people are engaged in them?
    • How has this changed as compared with the pre-disaster situation?
    • Which group or population is most affected?
    • What are the short- and medium-term effects of coping strategies on people’s financial and other assets?
    • For all livelihood groups, and all vulnerable people, what are the effects of coping strategies on their health, general well-being and dignity? Are there risks associated with coping strategies?