Alternative approaches to locating the food insecure

qualitative and quaintative evidence from South India

Kimberly Chung, Lawrence James Haddad, Jayashree Ramakrishna, Frank Z. Riely
fcnd discussion paper

This paper reports on two methods used for identifying alternative indicators of chronic and acute food insecurity. A need for alternative indicators exists since many of the benchmark or "gold standard" indicators (such as household income or dietary intake) are too cumbersome to be of practical use in food aid targeting. The ideal alternative indicator should be statistically reliable, yet straightforward to collect and analyze. The study uses data collected in four villages in the Indian Semi-Arid Tropics to illustrate two methods for identifying the alternative indicators. A qualitative methodology included ethnographic case studies of at-risk households, participatory mapping of vulnerable households within a community, food charts, and seasonality charts. The quantitative methods included both economic and nutrition surveys. The data were collected over three rounds in 1992-93 from 324 households in south-central India.For the qualitative work, both the villagers' perceptions of food insecurity as well as the ethnographers' observations were used to generate a list of indicators for these areas.