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3. What gaps in data exist regarding food access and nutrition in the region?

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3. What gaps in data exist regarding food access and nutrition in the region?

Data needs to accurately capture food access and nutrition can include agricultural production, early warning information and climate shocks, interventions, food prices, market access and information, household income, and a range of malnutrition indicators.  What are the biggest gaps that exist in terms of timely data collection for these indicators? (please note country to which you are referring).

What gaps

I think one of the key gaps  in many SSA countries is nationally representative food consumption data at household level. Integrated budget household surveys come close by collecting expenditure on several food items, but not quantities. DHS has data on anthropometrics, and it would be great if a consumption module was included here.

Mohamed Ag Bendech
Data Gaps

GNR 2015 highlighted that many countries are unable to report on the World Health Assembly (WHA) targets for 2025, e.g. :  little information on implementation of policies and programmes  particularly on food systems and food environment including Food safety and quality. There is the need to get more data, better data and better use of the data. The  countries and regional institutions should focus on standardized prioty indicators (e.g. SDGs, WHA Nutrition Targets and Malabo declaration and CAADP monitoring and evaluation framework) and on improvment of data collection, transfer, analysis and interpretation (e.G. FAOSTAT) as well as measurement instruments for both surveys and surveillance/routine data collection.

Data needs
  • Data on prices of a wide range of foods and not just cereals/grains
  • Database management capacity
  • Personnel capacity for data collection and management
  • Dissemination to a wide range of audience
  • Integration and coordination at all levels especially local or community level.
  • Harminsation of tools, indicators and interpretation of results and indicators.
S. Tokgoz
In response to 'Data needs'

I definitely agree with your point on data needs for agricultural commodities other than cereals. In many SSA countries, there are cash crops that generate income for farmers and export tax revenue for government. It is difficult to find price and production data for these commodities. We are currently working on agricultural value chains such as groundnut complex (nuts, meal, oil), palm oil complex, and cocoa and by-products in SSA. It was difficult to find data and to conduct analysis for these commodities that have great potential. Food and nutrition security depend on more variables than just staple crop prices. 

Mohamed Ag Bendech
In response to data needs

I also agree. It will be good to assess and fill the gaps on Losses and waste of the commodies (animal products, fruit and vegetables, pulses and nuts) in addition to the cereals in SSA.

losses and waste

I agree with the need for data on food loss and waste and where in the value chain these losses are taking place.  As you mention, this is particularly important for perishable products that also tend to be nutritious.  Focusing only on production accounting misses this important component of the food system.


Most data are snap-shots of the situation and do not include tracking of seasonal availabilitiy of nutritionally importnat foods. The availability of year-round nutritious food is essential to ensure food secuirty. Most countries do not consider this element when establishing informaiton systems to monitor food secuirty and nutirion.

Mohamed Ag Bendech
Data gaps

I fully agree with the need to assess the saisonnality of nutrition indicators as an important determinant of malnutrition particularly in the rural areas and in vulnerables regions (e.g. Sahel and Horn of Africa).

data needs

Data regarding micronutient deficiencies are needed urgently. It is difficult to set effective strategies with a lack of exhaustive information on micronutrient deficiencies among the population.

Micronutrient data

Data on the key micronutrient deficiencies are usually included in health surveys and often in DHS data. Often this data is unexplored beyond simple counts of deficiency. These rich data bases can provide a wealth of insight. The data for most countries can be downloaded from the DHS website.

DHS data

DHS surveys are very rich but often the data is collected every five years and then with a signficant lag in terms of published datasets.  How can this be improved and better utilized? 

Mohamed Ag Bendech
Micronutritient deficiencies data

I agree there is need to have and to use this kind of data. There is also the need to organize autonomous surveys on micronutrients deficiencies to collect good quality data by using for example proxy and less expensives methodes to asseess the progress in coverage and impact of programmes (e.g. FRAT studies for Food Fortification).

Mohamed Ag Bendech
DHS and other sources of data

DHS are considered as the main source of information for SSA and well used both at regional and country levels but the quality of the nutrition component is sometime not good because of inadequate training of investigators and supervisors. It is also suggested to select the adequate indicators required as more data does not always generate greater clarity to guide action. There is also the need to desaggregate the data collection at district level and to consider several other sources of information outside DHS (MICS, VAM, SMART, Permanent Agriculture Surveys and monitoring and surveillance systems) in a coherent manner. In this perspective we can better use DHS and other sources of data.  

Demba's picture
Gaps are reflective of awareness' state over needs for such gaps

Clearly gaps in timely data collection exist as a result of lack of awareness of what such data can do to propell growth and sustainability. Specific to west africa, precisely in Mali, Niger, Burkina and surroundings, key project actors don't mind focusing on data collection beyond their immediate M&E needs on specific angles (technology adoption, gender parity in acess, process in deliverables...). 

Timely data collection for broader indicators are critical to overall assessments in project identification, assessment and planning. Communication for development schemes are an attempt to bring relevance in the magic of accurate data. Agricultural productivity upscaling even in major institutions' planning pay lesser regards than it should to outreach and communication when that's all it takes to widen usage and adotion capabilities in a region. Communication is lagging behind in most instances rendering the need for better policy formulation, a must...

Rhoda Mofya-Mukuka
Gaps in Data

Speaking for Zambia, there has been incosistence in food consumption data particularly at national level. Without food consumption data it is very difficult to calculate accurately undernourishment lavels in the country and also measure the diversity of diets. Currently there is huge debate in the country as to whether the current ranking for Zambia as the third hugriest nation in the world according to the GHi is correct. Also the food balance sheet which provides input in the calculation of undernourishment levels is limited to cereals and tubers. There need to add more foods that are widely consumed such as pulses on the food balance sheet.


S Allen
data gaps

This is a good point that calculation of undernourishment should good beyond the consumption of cereals and tubers.  In the case of Zambia, can you explain more regarding the inconsistencies you mention?  

Martin Bwalya, ...
fit-for-purpose data

I would like here to also raise the point on quality and relevancy of available data. Issue of timeliness, in so far as it relates to quality has been raised already; my points are:

- Africa is still tying up massive time and resources collecting data that is irrelevant or does not represent the local possibilities and circumstances on the food basket. I think much of the ommission on micrnutients also relate to the fact that much of our data collected and possed on food access and nutrition does not account for indegenous food materials (even though these are deminishing in our food basket). Without food and nutrition data defined and profiled within the local conditions and circumstance, it means that we are planning on the basis of erronous data/information - its a major gap. One question is "calorie intake" is a popular data set in assessment of "prevalence of undernourishment in a population" - does this adequately tell the story on the nutritional health of the population?

- Another factor that introduces critical gaps in food access and nutrition data is in the fragmentation of authority and capacity to collect and process this data from Statistics Department through to Health ministries and Agriculture ministries (where some times production and acess are mixed up) as well as trade ministries (especially that the food import bill is large in many of our countries. Without instruments to integrate this data sources, we end of with distorted data - e.g. too heavy on the health/medical data. It is the imbalance between "supply/available" data and "actual consumption" data (especially when/if some of us have access to morer than we need and therefore wasteful.

Sorry for too long a submission    

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