Comprehensive Food Security and Vulnerability Analysis

Date of Design: 
World Food Programme
Contact Institution: 
Pathway Component: 
Agricultural Income, Diet, Food Access, Food Expenditure, Food Prices, Food Production, Processing & Storage


Brief Description: A Comprehensive Food Security & Vulnerability Analysis (CFSVA) process results in a document that describes the food security status of various segments of the population, analyzes the underlying causes of vulnerability, and recommends interventions to deal with the problems.

Uses: The objective of a CFSVA is to analyze the food security and vulnerability conditions of population groups and communities, and to provide baseline information on the population in a “normal” situation. The results provide decision-makers with information on household food insecurity and vulnerability (who, how many people, where they are located) allowing for recommendations on food related interventions to improve the situation. CFSVAs are used to: 

  • Assess needs and inform the design of programming.
  • Determine baseline vulnerability and serve as a benchmark for future assessments.
  • Serve as strategic entry points for partnership with other UN agencies. 

Tool Components: The technical components of the CFSVA guidelines include: 

  • Managing the implementation of a CFSVA
  • Desk study: literature review and secondary data
  • Household-level data in a CFSVA
  • Qualitative and community-level data in CFSVAs
  • Food security analysis in a CFSVA
  • Preparing conclusions and recommendations
  • Report preparation and dissemination


Number of Staff Required:  Not specified; can vary depending on the scope of the assessment. 

Time: It usually takes four-to-eight months between the initiation of the process and dissemination of the results.

Cost of Assessment: Costs can vary greatly due to the variable contexts within which CFSVAs are conducted. CFSVAs are not necessarily more expensive than large rapid assessments, but they can be costly if a large household survey is included. Large surveys on the order of 2,000-3,000 households can cost in the range of $75,000-$100,000. CFSVAs with larger samples covering many different locations cost well over $200,000. 

Training: For the main survey instruments, training usually takes five to eight days. If child anthropometric data is to be collected, an additional two-to-five days of training will be needed. If hand-held computers (PDAs) are to be used by data collectors, an additional one to three days of training will be needed. If focus groups will be used, an additional two-to-eight days will be needed. 

Geographic Targeting: CFSVAs may be conducted for an entire country, or regions within a country. The terms of reference must clearly state the geographic scope of the assessment.

Type of Data Collection: A CFSVA process includes secondary data review and analysis, household and key informant interviews, focus groups, and possibly child anthropometry data.

Degree of Technical Difficulty: This is a complex assessment requiring in-depth technical expertise.

Complements other Resources: A CFSVA is a comprehensive assessment, and includes an analysis of a variety of secondary data. The guidelines include a specific chapter focused on literature review and secondary data.

This summary is part of a larger resource called the Context Assessment Tool Locator.