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IPC Overview and Classification System

The Integrated Food Security Phase Classification (IPC) is an innovative multi-partner initiative for improving food security and nutrition analysis and decision-making. By using the IPC classification and analytical approach, Governments, UN Agencies, NGOs, civil society and other relevant actors, work together to determine the severity and magnitude of acute and chronic food insecurity, and acute malnutrition situations in a country, according to internationally-recognised scientific standards.

The main goal of the IPC is to provide decision-makers with a rigorous, evidence- and consensus-based analysis of food insecurity and acute malnutrition situations, to inform emergency responses as well as medium- and long-term policy and programming.

The IPC was originally developed in 2004 to be used in Somalia by FAO’s Food Security and Nutrition Analysis Unit (FSNAU). Since then, a global partnership of 15 organizations is leading the development and implementation of the IPC at global, regional and country level. With over 10 years of application, the IPC has proved to be one of the best practices in the global food security field, and a model of collaboration in over 30 countries in Latin America, Africa and Asia.


A common global system for classifying the severity and magnitude of the food insecurity and malnutrition situation and identifying its key drivers

There are three IPC classifications that distinguish Acute Food Insecurity, Chronic Food Insecurity and Acute Malnutrition, as specific decisions are needed to address each condition. The IPC is conducted according to four mutually supporting functions: (1) Building technical consensus, (2) Classifying severity and identifying drivers, (3) Communicating for action; and (4) Ensuring adherence to protocols. Each function has a specific purpose and a set of guiding protocols to follow, to ensure that the IPC analyses are rigorous, neutral and accountable.

A platform for building evidence-based technical consensus among key stakeholders

Situations involving food insecure and malnourished populations always involve multiple stakeholders and agencies, whose actions are much more effective if there is technical consensus on the underlying situation analysis. By providing a set of definitions and standards for classifying the diverse food insecurity scenarios and their impact on human lives and livelihoods, the IPC makes it easier for multi-sectoral stakeholders to identify priorities and facilitate the coordination of response efforts.

A process that consolidates wide-ranging evidence into knowledge for taking action towards food security and nutrition

The IPC makes the best use of the evidence available through a transparent, traceable, and rigorous process. In so doing, the IPC aims to simplify complex analyses of food insecurity and malnutrition situations and provide a “big picture”; the best assessment of the situation in terms of how many people are food insecure and/or acutely malnourished; when, where and the extent of food insecurity and/or malnutrition; and why this is happening. By using international standards, IPC results allow for area comparison; tracking the severity of the situations over time; indicating changes in food insecure situations, and critically, changes in the required responses.

IPC Classification

The IPC Classification System distinguishes and links acute food insecurity, chronic food insecurity and acute malnutrition to support more strategic and better coordinated responses.

The protocols used by the IPC are harmonized across the three individual scales (IPC Acute Food Insecurity, IPC Chronic Food Insecurity, and IPC Acute Malnutrition). This allows for the analysis of linkages between the three conditions and the possibility of detangling acute food insecurity, chronic food insecurity and acute malnutrition, in support of a more strategic response analysis.

Acute Food Insecurity

Chronic Food Insecurity

Acute Malnutrition

Strategic Guidance to Actions

Short-term objectives to prevent or decrease severe food insecurity that threatens lives or livelihoods.

Medium- and long-term improvement of the quality and quantity of food consumption for an active and healthy life.

Short- and long-term objectives to prevent or decrease high levels of acute malnutrition.

Specific Area of Interest

Food insecurity found at a specific point in time and of a severity that threatens lives or livelihoods, or both, regardless of the causes, context or duration.

Food insecurity that persists over time, mainly due to structural causes, including intra-annual seasonal food insecurity.

Global Acute Malnutrition (GAM) is expressed by thinness of individuals and/or presence of oedema.

Classification Scale

5 Severity Phases

4 Severity Levels

5 Severity Phases

(1) Minimal/None

(2) Stressed

(3) Crisis

(4) Emergency

(5) Catastrophe/Famine

(1) Minimal or no CFI

(2) Mild CFI

(3) Moderate CFI

(4) Severe CFI

(1) Acceptable

(2) Alert

(3) Serious

(4) Critical

(5) Extreme Critical

Analytical Focus

Identifying areas with large proportion of households with significant food energy gaps or livelihood change strategies that can endanger lives or livelihoods.

Identifying areas with large proportion of households with long-term inability to meet adequate food requirements both in terms of energy and micronutrient needs.

Identifying areas with large proportion of children wasted and/or with oedema.

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