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Save the Children

Development of food security and vulnerability information systems in Southern Africa:
the experience of Save the Children UK

Written by Neil Marsland, Consultant for Save the Children

August 2004

Posted with permission of Michael O'Donnell (m.o', Food Security & Livelihoods AdvisorSouthern & West Africa and Asia, Save the Children (UK).
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The objective of this paper is to provide lessons of experience for managers and technicians concerned with food security and vulnerability information systems, particularly systems which involve several countries within a region. The lessons are derived from an analysis of the development of food security and vulnerability monitoring in Southern Africa. This analysis is done from the perspective of Save the Children (UK), and it is accepted that other institutions may have other perspectives on the events presented. The paper is intended to contribute to a larger body of reference and guideline material that can be used by SC(UK) and other stakeholders to advocate for the development of appropriate food security and vulnerability information systems. This larger body of work will also draw on SC(UK)’s experiences elsewhere in Africa.

Critical learning points come from an exploration of the development of both institutions and methodologies in the Southern African context. The paper draws out key issues from different “stages” of development in these areas. The stages are:

  1. Food security and vulnerability assessment in Southern Africa in the context of famine early warning: 1993 – 99.
  2. The development of regional co-ordination mechanisms for vulnerability assessment: 1999 – 2002.
  3. Food insecurity and vulnerability monitoring in a regional food crisis: The rolling assessments of 2002-03.
  4. Beyond vulnerability to food insecurity: Vulnerability Assessment in the context of new meanings of vulnerability and links to poverty monitoring.
These sections are preceded by some definitions and an explanation of the scope of the paper.

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