Protocol 1.2: Conduct the analysis on a consensual basis

The analysis team members must commit to conducting evidence-based and unbiased analysis, with the objective of classifying and describing food insecurity conditions as accurately as possible through mutual agreement.

The formulation of a mutual understanding and agreement is one of the central tasks of the IPC Technical  Working Group leadership and IPC facilitators, and a range of strategies may be applied to this end. 

Consensus does not necessarily imply unanimity, since some disagreement or dissent is common. Nevertheless, consensus should leave all parties in a better position than when they started, thus adding trust and credibility among themselves and in the public’s eye. Common ground between the analysts can be sought by carrying out a joint analysis and critical review of the data available, and by a good understanding of the context of the area analysed. However, since arriving at a consensus is complex, it requires the support of a qualified facilitator. One of the initial tasks of the IPC Technical Working Group leadership and IPC analysis facilitators is to define the ground rules for building consensus, with the participating analysts (Box 7). 

Consensus-building is dependent on the ability of analysts to critically analyse and discuss evidence. Hence, it is imperative that members have a strong understanding of their sector(s), food security and IPC protocols. Furthermore, in order to ensure that adequate time is devoted to critically review evidence and achieve consensus on classification, it is imperative that evidence be well organized for and prior to the analysis.

Consensus is not always achieved. Disagreements may relate to a particular area or analysis overall. In these situations, the best approach is to address the disagreements within the analysis team through neutral facilitation and seek an agreement at the country level to avoid delays. If this is not possible, the dissenting organization(s) can decide to disagree with the analysis results, in which case the minority view may be documented and communicated to decision-makers. However, if the disagreement relates to classification in IPC Phase 4, an external quality review of the alternative analysis (reflecting the minority view) may be requested by the Technical Working Group or partner(s) supporting the minority view.

Vetting of classification and population estimations is also a good practice for IPC consensus-building. Although the IPC does not define the process for reaching consensus, it recommends that some form of vetting be carried out. Vetting usually takes place after preliminary classification and population estimates have been performed, and it typically consists of sessions during which IPC analysts who participated in the analysis review, discuss and debate on the preliminary IPC classifications and population estimates resulting from the exercise, reach consensus and agree on the final results.

Another recommended activity is the presentation of IPC results to key decision-makers before public release. This achieves two objectives: (i) it is a double-check on the results, allowing for open discussion as necessary, which may in some instances lead the Technical Working Group to revisit the analysis if supported by evidence; and (ii) it promotes ownership of the findings by key stakeholders before the results are presented to the public.