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Sudan Federal Food Security Technical Secretariat
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Food Security Dimensions

This module presents data and information about evolution of the food security and nutrition situation along the four dimensions of food security: availability, access, utilization and stability. It is designated for browsing and searching data and information of FS Four Dimensions (availability, access, utilization including FCS and S3M, and stability) with graphical presentation for supporting FS evidence and analysis.

Food security is said to exist when all people, at all times, have physical and economic access to sufficient, safe and nutritious food to meet their dietary needs and food preferences for an active and healthy life. This definition recognizes the key food security concepts of food availability, access, stability and utilization. It is widely recognized that food insecurity occurs in two different time dimensions. These are acute food insecurity and chronic or long‐term food insecurity.

Acute food insecurity is generally the result of an emergency or shock, is relatively short‐term and often requires immediate action to save lives and livelihoods. Chronic food insecurity is long‐term, usually linked with poverty and typically requires well targeted development initiatives to build sustainable livelihoods. Acute food insecurity occurs as a result of a shock such as a flood, storm, drought, a sudden surge in food prices, conflict or other events that create instability and disrupt the normal livelihood of affected households. The devastating event is usually required the immediate support of national, regional and international agencies and the private sector to provide food aid and other lifesaving assistance. Loss of key livelihood assets such as livestock, farm implements and other working capital including family labor can slow recovery efforts and resumption of normal food production. It takes time over the medium‐term for individuals, households and communities to restore their livelihood conditions. Health and malnutrition factors may also hamper recovery. In the case of acute food insecurity, immediate food and other assistance may be required to save lives, while support to rebuild the livelihoods of affected households, such as through agricultural recovery, is also required.

In contrast, chronic or long‐term food insecurity is typically a result of poverty. The specific causes of chronic food insecurity may include the unavailability of food due to poor production practices or market failures, and/or the inaccessibility of food due to low income. According to its basic definition, food security can be understood by considering the following four dimensions:

Availability: At the household level, sufficient quantities of food must be available through own production or at local markets to feed the population. In emergencies, food availability in some areas may be supplemented by food aid. Wild foods and gifts may also contribute to food availability. At the national level, the amount of food available is a function of national production plus stock and imports, including food aid, minus the quantity of exports, seed, feed and post‐harvest loss.

Access to Food: Access to food depends on whether consumers have enough money to purchase the food they require. It is the ability of a household to secure food in the market place from household income sources or through other sources such as transfers or gifts. This underscores the importance of household purchasing power. Whether households have access to food depends upon factors such as household income, food prices, employment opportunity and working resources, such as labor, capital and capability.

Utilization: Food utilization refers to the capacity of the human body to absorb safe and nutritious food required for good nutrition This depends on the quantity, quality and diversity of food consumed in the household, as well as adequate health care and sanitation services, and maternal and child care. Food utilization also concerns food management within households, including good practices on food processing, storage, preparation, nutrition and intra‐household equitable food distribution.

Stability: Stability is typically linked to the vulnerability context and risk factors that can negatively impact food availability or access to food. It requires that food is available to individuals and households at all times, so they have constant access to the food they require. Due to different agro‐ecological conditions in Myanmar, different varieties of foods are grown in different sub‐national regions. Remote areas like parts of Shan, Chin, Kachin and Rakhine States, that are difficult to reach due to poor communication and road access, may face unstable food supplies, particularly in off‐seasons. Households may have difficulties ensuring a stable supply of healthy and nutritionally diverse foods for all members in the off‐season.