Emergency Food Security Assessment

Date of Design: 
Second edition of 2009
World Food Programme
Contact Institution: 
Pathway Component: 
Agricultural Income, Value Chains & Market Systems, Diet, Food Access, Food Expenditure, Food Prices, Food Production, Processing & Storage


Brief Description: An Emergency Food Security Assessment (EFSA) is designed to assess the impact of a shock on the food security of households and communities within an affected area. An EFSA may be conducted as a rapid or an in-depth assessment. It is intended for use in emergency situations and protracted crises.

Uses: An EFSA should enable decision makers to understand the nature of the crisis and the types of intervention that may be helpful. The information can be crucial for operational coordination and transparency. The EFSA results may also help donors to decide on the allocation of resources.

Tool Components: The primary components of the EFSA Handbook are:

  • Part I: Conceptual framework, objectives, and types of EFSA
  • Part II: Data, indicators, and sources of information
  • Part III: Planning and implementing an EFSA
  • Part IV: Analyzing EFSA data
  • Part V: Reporting EFSA results
  • Annexes (including sample questionnaires)


Number of Staff Required: Human resource requirements for an EFSA depend on the assessment methodology that has been chosen. For an initial or rapid assessment based on purposive sampling and semi-structured interviews, fewer staff will be needed, but the people carrying out the interviews must be well trained and experienced. An in-depth large scale survey will require more staff.

Time: The example EFSA schedule provided in the handbook is three weeks, but the schedule may expand or contract depending on whether it is an initial, rapid, or in-depth assessment.

Cost of Assessment: A rapid assessment may cost up to US $30,000 depending on the geographic extent and topography of the area and the variety of livelihood zones and socio-economic groups affected.

Training: All people working on the assessment must receive training even if they have undertaken assessments in the past. This is particularly important for enumerators. Trainers must be deployed for the time needed; typically about two days for enumerator and one week for interviewer training.

Geographic Targeting: The area included in the EFSA will be determined by the impact of the shock and the assessment objectives. For example, if the crisis is small-scale and concentrated, the assessment may cover only the directly affected area. However, in a slow-onset emergency affecting the whole country, zones in any part of the country may be selected.

Type of Data Collection: An EFSA combines primary and secondary information. Data collected may be sourced from household and key informant questionnaires, market trader interviews, focus group discussions, and direct observations. 

Degree of technical difficulty: The EFSA is a complex assessment and requires specific technical training to complete the analysis. 

Complements other resources: The Comprehensive Food Security and Vulnerability Assessment (CFSVA) guidelines complement the EFSA. The conceptual framework is identical for EFSA and CFSVA and the analytical approach for the EFSA and the CFSVA is consistent. Effort has been made to harmonize sampling approaches, define indicators, and follow a similar logic of analysis. The FAO/WFP Crop and Food Security Assessment Missions (CFSAM) guidelines are also consistent with the EFSA handbook.

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