1.5 Key Features

  • The IPC is based on consensus-building: Building technical consensus is important for two main reasons. First, food security and malnutrition analysis requires expertise from a wide range of disciplines (food security, livelihoods, nutrition, markets, agriculture and others, depending on the situation) as well as in-depth knowledge of the local context. The consensus-based process brings together experts from different disciplines and perspectives to evaluate and debate the evidence culminating in the final classification. Second, bringing technical experts from key stakeholder organizations together in the analysis process ensures that the analysis results will be more widely accepted and acted upon in a coordinated manner. Thus, consensus-building is key to promoting rigorous and unbiased food security and nutrition classifications.
  • The IPC uses a convergence-of-evidence approach: The IPC analyses are prepared with a range of data and information from a variety of sources across multiple sectors. This approach requires that analysts critically evaluate the body of evidence in terms of both content and reliability, using the IPC protocols to guide analysis and classification.
  • The IPC can be used at low levels of disaggregation: The IPC can be used for classifying food insecurity and malnutrition at any administrative unit or geographical area, provided that minimally adequate and representative evidence is available. However, it should be noted that because IPC classification is based on consensus-building and convergence of evidence, the efforts required in terms of human and time resources to classify multiple small areas are substantial. Hence, decisions regarding the level of geographic disaggregation of IPC analyses need to take into account decision-makers’ needs but also data availability, feasibility of implementation, resources and logistical aspects.
  • The IPC can be applied with minimally adequate evidence: Reliable, good-quality data are vital for well-informed, rigorous food security and nutrition analyses and classifications. The IPC strongly recommends that national data collection systems adhere to global standards for collection and analysis of food security and nutrition indicators. However, because such data are often unavailable for the geographical unit under analysis, the IPC allows classification to be carried out with somewhat reliable evidence, provided that there is a minimum set of data and that all IPC protocols are followed. It is the four IPC Functions and their methodical protocols that allow classifications to be carried out even when only limited evidence is available. 
  • The IPC can be used to classify acute food insecurity and acute malnutrition in areas with limited or no humanitarian access: IPC classification is often conducted in situations where limited access prevents humanitarian organizations from reaching certain areas. This is especially the case in situations of conflict and large-scale natural disasters. In fact, areas that cannot be reached are often most affected by food insecurity and Acute Malnutrition, and available data are limited. To support response planning, IPC classifications can be performed under these conditions, provided that minimum evidence is available, with the recognition that this analysis will provide less specific and less accurate information as a result.
  • The IPC can be used in rural and urban settings: While food security analysis is often biased towards rural settings, food insecurity in urban areas can also be a major concern. This is increasingly the case as a result of growing urbanization and global market integration. The overall IPC approach, including the IPC Analytical Framework and other protocols, are equally applicable to urban settings; however, tools and procedures may need further adaptation for urban contexts.
  • The IPC Information Support System (ISS) allows more efficient, accountable and mainstreamed classifications: The ISS is an innovative Internet platform designed to facilitate the creation, storage and dissemination of IPC classifications. The ISS includes the tools necessary to complete the 13 protocols used for classification, and allows for documentation and analysis of evidence. The ISS can greatly reduce the time it takes to complete an IPC analysis by enabling the pre-organization of evidence, allowing simultaneous work by multiple users, and automatically creating population tables and communication templates. The ISS is a country tool owned and managed by the national Technical Working Group. The Technical Working Group can decide to make the analysis results available for the general public, including the map, the population table and the communication brief, or can share them among technical personnel.
  • The IPC sets the global standards for Famine classification: Famine is the most severe phase of the IPC. It exists in areas where at least one in five households has or is most likely to have an extreme deprivation of food. Starvation, death, destitution and extremely critical levels of Acute Malnutrition are or will be evident. Significant mortality, directly attributable to outright starvation or to the interaction of malnutrition and disease, is occurring or will be occurring. Given the severity and implications of classifying Famine, specific IPC protocols have been developed, and special considerations are identified in Box 3.