Nearly 1 billion people around the world do not have enough to eat, yet few tools exist to measure what global food insecurity means to the hungry individual. In order to address and measure the gap between global food insecurity and the experience of those living with food insecurity on a regular basis, the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) launched the innovative, new Voices of the Hungry Project in March of 2013.
The aim of the five-year project is to help gauge world hunger and food insecurity in a dynamic and timely manner. In conjunction with a panel of experts, FAO has carefully designed an annual survey that will collect data on a range of aspects characterizing the experience of food insecurity. The Voices of the Hungry Project will be field-tested in four pilot countries: Ethiopia, Malawi, Niger and Angola. Afterwards, in partnership with Gallup, Inc., the survey will be extended to over 160,000 respondents in up to 150 countries.
The project uses an experience-based indicator developed to measure the difficulties that people face in accessing enough food around the world. According to FAO, the survey will be taken by representative samples of 1,000 to 5,000 people, depending on the size of the country. The survey includes eight questions referring to the past 12 months, asking, for example, whether respondents went a whole day without eating or if they ate less than they thought they should. This will be the first time that FAO is responsible for data collection.
Up until now, it has been difficult to monitor global hunger and food insecurity at the individual level, as current tools employed by FAO evaluate the potential for caloric consumption on a national level. Furthermore, results of the new data will be available in days, rather than years. The new system allows for a more comprehensive and instantaneous picture of the different dimensions of food insecurity in a given country.
Examining hunger from an individual’s perspective will produce an array of data that can than be used to raise awareness and enhance accountability by creating visibility for the world’s food insecure. As Jomo Sundaram, FAO Assistant Director-General for Economic and Social Development, stated, “this innovative method will be an essential tool for governments, civil society and other national and international organizations in the fight against hunger. It will also be key to increasing the accountability of governments and in encouraging them to commit to hunger eradication”.
The Voices of the Hungry Project will also play an important role in monitoring progress for the Zero Hunger Challenge announced last year by the U.N. Secretary-General, Ban Ki-moon, to which FAO is a committed partner. The Zero Hunger Challenge seeks to eliminate hunger in our lifetime by ramping up efforts to ensure all people enjoy their right to adequate food.