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WFP committed to improving quality of food needs assessments

Participants at WFP Workshop in Yonde, Cameroon. See also 'People in aid' section (Joyce Kelly)

by Joyce Kelly

Joyce is the Field Exchange correspondent participating at the workshop

In 2000, WFP established the Office of Humanitarian Affairs (OHA). As part of its role in management, co-ordination and implementation of the SERC (Strengthening Emergency Response Capacity) project, the OHA team facilitate the training of WFP personnel. In June 2001 OHA organised a workshop on 'Food Needs Assessments in Emergencies' for programme personnel in the African region. The workshop took place in Yaounde, Cameroon. Participants from programmes in Burundi, Côte d'Ivoire, Democratic Republic of Congo, Mauritania, Congo-Brazzaville, Mali, Benin, Niger, Rwanda, Tchad, Madagascar, Burkina Faso and Cameroon attended the four-day event.

The primary objective of this workshop was to give a broad outline of the different approaches used in assessing food needs in the five main types of situations that WFP personnel may work in:

Key points that were initially identified relating to WFP assessments were as follows:

Some assessment tools were then demonstrated in order to facilitate understanding of qualitative and quantitative approaches.

Case studies were then used to illustrate issues and principles that need to be considered before embarking on a food security assessment. These included:

Methodologies within WFP

WFP are in the process of strengthening their 'inhouse' assessment skills. Participation from a wide range of programme staff in the workshop raised awareness that assessments need to be contextspecific and that there are a variety of field 'tools' that can be employed to maximise understanding of the situation.

Case studies from South Sudan and Burundi illustrated the quality and quantity of information that can be obtained in difficult emergency situations using the food economy approach. Although this workshop was not an actual training in food economy methodology, the merits of this approach were discussed and WFP remains committed to incorporating this technique more and more in its operational assessment procedures.

Armed with a small library of resource material, participants returned to share what was learnt with their respective colleagues. Similar workshops are scheduled to be held in the near future.

For further information on the workshop contact Bill Fielding via email: or Marie-France Bourgeois at email:

For further details on OHA activities contact WFP Rome at Via C.G.Viola 68, Parco dei Medici, 00148 Rome, Italy. Tel: +39-06-6513 2628. Fax: +39-06-6513 2840. E-mail:

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Reference this page

Joyce Kelly (2001). WFP committed to improving quality of food needs assessments. Field Exchange 13, August 2001. p9.



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