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Food security: minimum standards to be included into Sphere

Oxfam GB organised an inter-agency workshop on minimum standards in Food Security, which was held at St Hilda's college in Oxford between the 2-3rd July 2001. The workshop was attended by Food Security specialists from NGOs, UN and bilateral agencies and academic/research institutions.

The main objectives of the meeting were:

The first morning of the meeting was largely devoted to presentations. The first presentations outlined the purpose, use and structure of the Sphere Humanitarian Charter and Minimum Standards in Disaster Response, which included a review of the food aid standards. This was followed by presentations on approaches to food security assessment in emergencies. Presentations were made on analysing a food insecure situation (MSF-H), the household economy approach (SC-UK), a livelihoods approach (CARE, Oxfam), ACF's approach, and on Early Warning Systems (Environmental Change Institute, University of Oxford). Working groups then discussed common elements between the different approaches.

On the second day, additional presentations were given by a representative of the WFP Vulnerability Analysis and Mapping (VAM) unit and by a representative of FAO's Food and Nutrition Division. Working groups discussed the risks and opportunities of developing minimum standards for food security and reached general consensus that it was necessary to develop such standards. After agreement on the need for food security standards, working groups tried to formulate examples for food security assessment, monitoring and evaluation and food security support standards.

Whilst there was consensus on the need for food security standards and the need to revise the food aid standards, there was no consensus on whether food aid standards could be incorporated into a chapter on food security standards. Several other possibilities were proposed, which included keeping food aid as a separate chapter but revised and slimmed down, including food security in the nutrition chapter, or having three separate chapters on nutrition, food security and food aid. Based on the feedback from participants and through a participatory process, this effort will commence by late 2001.

Representatives from the Sphere project were pleased with the outcome of the meeting and will report the findings of the meeting to the Sphere management team. They also notified participants that revisions to the existing Sphere project Minimum Standards would need to be completed by 2003. A full report of the meeting is expected to be available in the next few weeks.

For further information contact: Elham Monsef at Oxfam House, 274 Banbury Road, Oxford, OX2 7DZ. Phone +44 (0)1865 312610 or email: EMonsef@oxfam.org.uk

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Food security: minimum standards to be included into Sphere. Field Exchange 13, August 2001. p10. www.ennonline.net/fex/13/sphere

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