Household Dietary Diversity Score

Date of Design: 
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Brief Description: The Household Diversity Score (HDDS) guide provides an approach to measuring household dietary diversity as a proxy measure of household food access. To better reflect a quality diet, the number of different food groups consumed is calculated, rather than the number of different foods consumed. The indicator can be modified and used as an Individual Dietary Diversity Score (IDDS), which is used as a proxy measure of the nutritional quality of an individual’s diet. The HDDS, however, is used as a proxy measure of the socio-economic status of the household. 

Uses: The HDDS can serve a variety of purposes including to:

  • Monitor seasonal fluctuations in food access.
  • Measure the impact of a project on household food access.
  • Serve as an indicator within an early warning system. 

Tool Components: The technical components of the HDDS guide include:

  1. Collecting the Data
  2. Questionnaire Format
  3. HDDS Indicator Tabulation Plan
  4. Setting HDDS Targets 


Number of Staff Required: The number of staff required will depend on the size and scope of the assessment.  

Time: Asking the HDDS questions typically takes less than 10 minutes per respondent. 

Cost of Assessment: Not specified; cost will depend on context and the size of the assessment. 

Training: Enumerators will need to be trained to use the HDDS, but the guide indicates that this training is not complicated. 

Geographic Targeting: The guide assumes that the HDDS questions will be part of a population-based survey instrument and will be applied to all households in the sample. The geographic targeting and sampling within the target should be determined by broader assessment goals.

Type of Data Collection: The HDDS is a household level survey 

Degree of Technical Difficulty: Obtaining these data is relatively simple. Field experience indicates that training field staff to obtain information on dietary diversity is not complicated and that respondents find such questions relatively easy to answer and not especially intrusive or burdensome.

Complements other Resources: As noted above, the HDDS is a proxy measure for food access. A complete food security assessment should also include measures of availability and utilization.

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