New food security index could inform policy and target food aid
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WASHINGTON, July 11, 2012 -It comes as no surprise that the United States ranks first and that Haiti ranks 101st on a list of 105 nations rated for their “food security” - a rating based on each country's access to affordable, safe, good-quality food and its ability to withstand shocks to the global food system."
That's derived from a new global food security index developed by the Economist Intelligence Unit at DuPont's behest and rolled out by both companies' senior executives Tuesday at the National Press Club in Washington and at briefings in Brussels, Johannesburg and Sao Paolo.
They see the index as a tool that will help analysts, policymakers, charities and multinational corporations decide how to apply resources to help alleviate food insecurity, today's more precise and comprehensive term for what used to be called simply hunger and malnutrition.
DuPont stirred the EIU to design the index, with the help of several prominent private sector and government food and agriculture experts, in order to find a “common language” that could help target efforts to relieve hunger and poverty. CEO Ellen Kullman said that discussions with relief agencies and government officials led DuPont to “realize that while we share a common goal of food security, we do not share a common language” to tackle the pressing challenges.
Although billions of dollars are being invested to improve global food security, there has been no comprehensive mechanism to measure it and to assess the impact of efforts to improve it, Kullman said. “To ensure that efforts are laser-focused to deliver real solutions, we needed a tool to inform decision making and facilitate a common language.”
“Creation of the index has the potential to get agriculture back on the global development agenda,” said Robert L. Thompson, of the Chicago Council on Global Affairs and one of several advisors who helped develop the mechanism. “Potential investors will look at this index and it will help them decide what countries to invest in.”
Tufts University nutrition expert Eileen Kennedy, another who was consulted for the index, said that the importance of the index was not only its nation-ranking, but how it “looks at the underlying causes of food insecurity. That is critical to good policymaking because it allows policymakers to address the most serious needs.”
Leo Abruzzese, the EIU's director of global forecasting, said that the index considers the nutritional quality and safety of food, elements not incorporated in earlier measurements, as well as the traditional supply and availability calculations. It will be adjusted quarterly, beginning in September, to reflect changes in food prices and other macroeconomic factors.
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