Global Food Security Assessment Guidelines

Date of Design: 
International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies
Contact Institution: 
Pathway Component: 
Agricultural Income, Value Chains & Market Systems, Diet, Food Access, Food Expenditure, Food Prices, Food Production, Processing & Storage


Brief Description: This guide is intended for staff who have no background knowledge on food security or assessments. It covers the different stages of a food security assessment and provides techniques and examples of how to perform one. It can be used in rural or urban settings. 

Uses: Food security assessments can serve a number of different functions. This guide lists a few specific reasons for undertaking food security assessment and analysis:

  • Understand how affected populations normally secure food.
  • Understand risks, causes, and impact of a disaster on immediate and future food security.
  • Identify the most appropriate responses to address both transient and chronic food insecurity.
  • Recognize and support household coping mechanisms.

Tool Components: The guide provides a basic explanation of what food security is and what an assessment is. It then goes on to explain the details of how to conduct a food security assessment, including the following steps:

  • Step 1: Preparation phase of food security assessment
  • Step 2: Phase of secondary information collection
  • Step 3: Phase of primary information collection
  • Step 4: Analysis


Number of Staff Required: Not specified; the number of staff will vary with each assessment. An example in the annex has a team of four.

Time: Not specified; it will vary widely across different assessments. Example time periods provided in the annex range from four to six weeks. 

Cost of Assessment: Not specified; the cost will vary depending on which components of the tool are used and the context in which the assessment takes place.

Training: The manual does not specify any particular training, as the guide itself is intended to explain the basics. However, enumerators may need training if questionnaires are involved.

Geographic Targeting: Not specified; this will depend on the emergency impact and assessment objectives.

Type of Data Collection: The guidelines include methods such as observation, semi-structured interviews (household and key informant), and focus group discussions.

Degree of Technical Difficulty: The guide provides many options for information collection and analysis that range from simple to more complex. As noted above, it is intended for staff with no prior food security or assessment experience; the guide itself serves as training.

Complements other Resources: The food security assessment will utilize many types of secondary information, such as livelihood profiles, market analyses, nutritional status, and maps. This assessment is complemented by many different resources, and results could be used by other assessments seeking secondary data.

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