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Regional themes > Food security Last update: 2020-11-27  

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Save the Children UK

Food Security Information Systems supported by Save the Children UK

Jeremy Shoham

Save the Children UK

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The overall goal of this review is to contribute to a strengthening of livelihoods-based Food Security Information Systems (FSIS) within governments, UN agencies and other institutions. It is hoped that by reviewing the extensive experience of Save the Children UK in supporting FSIS over the past 15–20 years that key lessons can be extracted to strengthen future FSIS activities. The paper is based largely on a number of case-study documents compiled by Save the Children UK practitioners. These deal with FSIS in south Sudan, Darfur, Somalia, Tanzania, Ethiopia and southern Africa. Two other source documents provide, respectively, an overview of Save the Children UK’s experiences of secondment to strengthen FSIS and a synthesis of donors’ views on FSIS. The paper also draws on recently published key documents (Levine and Chastre 2004; Darcy and Hofmann 2004), more general published literature, and the author’s own experience and knowledge.

Save the Children UK has been involved in establishing and strengthening information systems since the early 1970s (initially in Ethiopia and the Sahel). In 1990 development of the household economy approach (HEA) began and throughout the 1990s, largely through a process of secondment of Save the Children UK staff, household economy analysis was gradually incorporated into information systems and systematic needs assessments in south Sudan, Somalia, Darfur, Burundi and Liberia (for one year only). In 2001 Save the Children UK seconded HEA specialists to the Southern African Development Community (SADC). Since 1994 it has seconded more than 16 people to either WFP or FAO as technical food security experts within Africa, and another 7 to national and regional Vulnerability Assessment Committees (VACs) in southern Africa. Save the Children UK has also been involved in supporting nutrition information systems in Ethiopia and Darfur, as well as advocating for more effective information systems and methodologies concentrating on people’s livelihoods. The development and adoption of the HEA approach throughout the 1990s has to be seen in the context of a shift of emphasis that occurred in the 1980s in the way that food emergencies were predicted. During this period, food security information systems gradually began to take in information about people’s ability to gain access to food, as well as the availability of food.

The main conclusions and recommendations in this consolidation paper fall under the following headings:

  • household economy assessment and other methodologies as a tool in FSIS
  • factors that influence the use of FSIS information by decision-makers
  • sustainability of FSIS
  • linking FSIS with longer-term poverty monitoring and analysis
  • co-ordination of information systems
  • decentralisation of information systems
  • donor views and practice with regard to FSIS

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