Household Hunger Scale

Date of Design: 
FANTA, Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) & Tufts University
Pathway Component: 
Food Access


Brief Description: The Household Hunger Scale (HHS) is an individual indicator; it is a household food deprivation scale based on the idea that the experience of household food deprivation causes predictable reactions that can be captured by a survey and summarized in a scale. It is intended to be used as a small module within a larger, more comprehensive food security and nutrition questionnaire administered to a representative population-based sample of households. 

Uses: The HHS is most appropriate in areas of substantial food insecurity. It can be used for a variety of objectives, including to:

  • Monitor the prevalence of hunger over time across countries or regions to assess progress toward meeting international development commitments.
  • Assess the food security situation in a country or region to provide evidence for the development and implementation of policies and programs that address food insecurity and hunger.
  • Provide information for early warning or nutrition and food-security surveillance.
  • Inform standardized food security/humanitarian phase classifications. 

Tool Components: The HHS Indicator Guide includes:

  • Background and general guidance for use of the HHS
  • HHS module
  • Translation and adaption
  • Enumerator training
  • How to ask the HHS questions and record answers
  • Indicator tabulation 


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

Time: Administration of the HHS module requires approximately 3–5 minutes per household. 

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

Training: If enumerators were not part of the HHS adaptation process, two to three hours may be required to familiarize them with the HHS questions and the correct technique for administering them. As with any survey module, the process of training enumerators to administer the HHS should ideally include classroom instruction, discussion, role play, and field practice. 

Geographic Targeting: The HHS is a household-level indicator to be used within an assessment. Targeting should be determined by assessment goals.

Type of Data Collection: The HHS is a household level survey. 

Degree of Technical Difficulty: The HHS is a simple indicator; enumerators can be trained quickly and the guide clearly explains tabulation and analysis. 

Complements other Resources: The HHS is intended to be used in conjunction with other tools that measure complementary aspects of food insecurity. HHS focuses on food accessibility and the experience of food deprivation; complementary indicators might include anthropometric data on women and children; measures of household income, expenditure, and food production and consumption; and information on coping strategies and household and individual dietary diversity.

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