Policy Dialogue in DRC Highlights Difficulty Measuring Food Insecurity

September 6, 2011
by Marcia MacNeil

On August 31st, IFPRI researchers gathered in Kinshasa with national policymakers and policy advisors, representatives from donor organizations and NGOs, and Congolese experts from academia and research institutions at a high level Policy Dialogue to discuss the state of nutrition and food security in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) and ways to improve it.

Specifically, the Dialogue highlighted that unreliable and/or missing data on the nature and the intensity of the problem is hindering efforts to fight it.

The DRC has been exposed for decades to severe food insecurity. With low agricultural productivity and 80 percent of the population living on less than $1 a day, it is difficult for Congolese to purchase food. The food that is available does not meet their nutritional needs: more than half of the population is protein deficient and more than 80 percent have iron or zinc deficiency.

Policies and strategies to promote smallholder agricultural production; increase agricultural research, innovation, and extension; develop safety nets; and improve transportation routes to markets may help lift the country out of extreme food insecurity. However, because policymakers and policy advisors do not have reliable statistics they cannot implement effective, targeted policies and strategies.

To solve this “dual” food security program, Dialogue participants recommended:

  • putting in place an integrated statistical information system,
  • strengthening human and institutional capacity in data collecting,
  • ensuring adequate financing of data collecting institutions,
  • re-launching agricultural and household consumption surveys, and
  • following standard data collecting procedures and methods.