Protocol 2.3: Adhere to parameters for analysis

All IPC chronic food insecurity analyses should adhere to the following key parameters (Box 53):

a. Definition of chronic food insecurity definition and an analytical focus: The IPC considers as chronic food insecurity any persistent or seasonal inability to consume adequate diets for a healthy and active life mainly due to structural causes. The analytical focus is to identify areas with large proportion of households with long-term inability to meet minimum food requirements both in terms of quality and quantity. Seasonal and cyclical food insecurity, i.e. food insecurity that is found within years following a predictable pattern, is also defined as chronic food insecurity.

b. Informing action with medium- and long-term strategic objectives: The IPC Chronic Food Insecurity Classification primarily informs programming with medium- and long-term strategic objectives, those being usually measurable within 5–10 years.

c. Four severity levels: The IPC Chronic Food Insecurity Classification consists of four severity levels of chronic food insecurity: No/Minimal (Level 1); Mild (Level 2); Moderate (Level 3); and Severe (Level 4). Each level has different implications for response planning.

d. Convergence of evidence: Data and information from a wide range of sources are brought together to classify and distribute the population of households into the four levels of chronic food insecurity. The IPC approach relies on building consensus among a team of multisectoral experts who together evaluate and debate evidence systematically. Convergence of evidence uses the IPC Analytical Framework, supported by indicators directly measuring food security outcomes as well as contributing factors, to estimate the proportion of households in each level. Although convergence of evidence calls for all evidence to be assessed, only evidence that is relevant to chronic food insecurity and of a minimum reliability should be used for classification. Evidence that is less than somewhat reliable may only be used to contextualize and explain findings during convergence of evidence.

e. The twenty percent rule for area classification: An area is classified according to a specific IPC level when at least 20 percent of the population in the area are experiencing the conditions related to that level or more severe levels.

f. Unit(s) of classification: Classification is performed at the area level. Analysis benefits from an assessment of the conditions of specific household groups.

  • Area-based classification: IPC analysis is carried out considering the conditions experienced in a certain area, which are assessed through convergence of evidence that contains estimates for the whole area being analysed. Populations are estimated in different levels based on the co-existence of conditions.
  • Household Analysis Group (HAG): As a best practice, information on analysing chronic food insecurity among different livelihood and socio-economic household groups within areas is useful to support convergence of evidence and area classification. Information on chronic food insecurity conditions of specific household groups is also valuable to support identification of general characteristics of those most affected, which in turn is important to support strategic targeting. Household groups may include those considered most at risk of chronic food insecurity, such as certain livelihood or socio-economic groups (e.g. households engaging in casual labour and households headed by the elderly, women or children).

g. Analysis referring to periods with non-exceptional circumstances during the previous ten years: Classification is conducted by analysing historical and current evidence that reflects non-exceptional circumstance. These are times during which food security in the area is not affected by significant impacts of unusual shocks. In order to conduct an analysis, it is therefore necessary to identify periods that were non-exceptional so that evidence collected during these periods can inform the chronic food insecurity levels. Evidence collected during the ten years prior to the analysis can be used in a context of relative stability. If a country has undergone significant change within previous ten years, only evidence collected after the change should be used in the analysis.

h. Classification based on actual conditions as seen during non-exceptional circumstances: Classification is based on noted conditions during non-exceptional circumstances. Hence, it is guided by actual outcomes (food consumption quality and quantity and nutritional status) and evidence on contributing factors as measured. 

i. Validity period and analysis frequency: Since chronic food insecurity is characteristically persistent, and a chronic food insecurity situation is expected to change only slowly and gradually, the validity period of analysis is relatively long, typically from three to five years in the absence of structural changes. If, however, new good-quality data sources become available or there are other valid reasons to review the analysis before the end of the validity period, analysts can update the existing analysis, or prepare a new analysis. 

j. Humanitarian assistance and development programmes: Persistent food insecurity is classified based on conditions occurring in non-exceptional circumstances, irrespective of the provision of humanitarian or development assistance. Thus, analysts do not diminish the impact of any interventions, but rather classify what they observe through the use of indicators. The existence of relief interventions, such as cash transfers, safety nets and food distributions even during times of non-exceptional circumstances, are included in analyses of policies, institutions and processes and how they affect the pillars of food availability, access, utilization and stability. Areas with significant humanitarian or development programmes are not identified

k. Identification of key drivers and most-affected populations: IPC Chronic Food Insecurity classification provides tools that can be used for basic analysis of co-existing conditions, differentiating the underlying and limiting factors as per the IPC Food Security Analytical Framework. Limiting factors of food insecurity are analysed by identifying which combination of factors related to the availability, access, utilization and stability limits people from being food-secure in the medium and long terms. Underlying factors are derived from the analysis of vulnerabilities (i.e livelihood strategies and assets, policies, institutions and processes), as well as acute events or ongoing conditions that drive persistent food insecurity. In this context, analysts are also encouraged to look at trends and assess the impact that gender or other socio-cultural inequalities may have on these factors and, to the extent possible, identify who are likely the most-affected populations.

l. Population in need of urgent action: The identification of population in Level 3 or more severe refers to those in need of urgent action to decrease gaps in quality and quantity of food consumption, and to address chronic malnutrition. Estimations include the mitigating impacts of any development assistance including safety nets, delivered during the period of analysis, especially in areas where large development programmes are being implemented. In addition, the number of people in more severe levels is likely less than what would be observed without these development programmes. Decision-makers should be informed that estimations refer to numbers in need of action beyond the action being given, but no specific analysis of assistance programmes is conducted during the IPC Chronic Food Insecurity Analysis. No alternative numbers can be calculated using IPC protocols.