Supporting the Seasonal Food Security Assessment and Integrated Food Security Phase Classification Analysis in Afghanistan

iMMAP played a key role in supporting last year’s Seasonal Food Security Assessment and Integrated Food Security Phase Classification analysis, two key processes for understanding the current and future food security needs of the Afghan population.

Food distribution in Kunduz province. Credit: Mohammad Sadiq Zaheer/OCHA.

This is a joint article by iMMAP and the Food Security and Agriculture Cluster (FSAC).

The already alarmingly high levels of acute food insecurity in Afghanistan are increasing, largely due to active conflict resulting in displacement and limiting people’s movement, livelihood activities, and access to food markets, as well as the impacts of higher food prices, natural hazards, and the COVID-19 pandemic. These elevated levels of food insecurity negatively affect the survival, living standards, and resilience of millions of people across the country.

The common global system to determine the severity and magnitude of acute food insecurity in a country is the Integrated Food Security Phase Classification (IPC), an innovative multi-partner initiative for improving food security analysis and decision making. By using the IPC classification and analytical approach, governments, UN Agencies, NGOs, civil society, and other relevant actors, work together to determine the situation in a country, according to internationally-recognized scientific standards.

One of the key inputs for IPC analysis and planning the humanitarian response in Afghanistan is the nationwide Seasonal Food Security Assessment (SFSA). The findings of the SFSA are a vital source of information for the Government of Afghanistan, as well as the humanitarian community, to inform the ongoing response while planning future activities regarding the acute food insecurity situation. Food insecurity and other vulnerability calculations in the Afghanistan Humanitarian Needs Overview (HNO) and Humanitarian Response Plan (HRP) are also heavily reliant on results from the SFSA and subsequent IPC analysis.

The SFSA questionnaires were developed by the FSAC Assessment Working Group (AWG) in July and data collection was completed by the Ministry of Agriculture, Irrigation, and Livestock (MAIL) in August, after approximately 20 days of fieldwork in challenging conditions. Teams of enumerators conducted surveys in 34 provinces, interviewing 21,886 households. During 2020, an increased focus was made on collecting data electronically, with nearly 50% of data collected through KoBo Toolbox, a toolkit for collecting and managing data in challenging environments, often used in humanitarian emergencies.

Data entry using KoBo offline through the local area network set up by iMMAP

Data entry then took place at the MAIL office in Kabul, from September 9 – 19. iMMAP played an important role by establishing a local area network for 35 PCs at the MAIL office for offline data entry and providing constant information technology support, which was crucial for successful SFSA and IPC processes. Additional support included data cleaning and downloading while sharing backups daily with the IPC focal points. In total, 11,434 households, 1,120 community, and 259 forms were entered into the database. iMMAP’s Eng. Muhammad Amin Bahavi, senior GIS officer, who provided this support, received a certificate of appreciation from the previous FSAC coordinator, Mr. Jean-Noel Melotte, in recognition.

The support provided by iMMAP to FSAC to complete the SFSA and the IPC is a key element to how we are able to construct and defend our food security analysis. The IPC provides the baseline and clear evidence base for building the HRP and determining response priorities. The SFSA also provides a granular understanding of how food security and basic needs are changing in response to shocks and reoccurring events. iMMAP provides key support in ensuring that data entry, databases, and the required level of skills are applied to ensure the success of these time-critical activities. iMMAP always responds to requests of support from FSAC in a way that is efficient and highly appreciated. Their staff have in addition provided capacity training to FSAC staff and have proven to be reliable partner even during COVID-19 restrictions.Mr. Jean-Noel Melotte - FSAC Coordinator

Following the completion of the SFSA, a national IPC analysis workshop (preceded by a one-day sensitization session), was held from September 22 - 30 in Kabul. The workshop was attended by over 60 experts across Afghanistan, representing provincial and central governments, UN organizations, international and national NGOs, technical agencies, and academia.

Natural hazard vulnerability maps produced for the IPC analysis workshop

As per the request of IPC and FAOAF, Eng. Muhammad Amin Bahavi represented iMMAP and participated in the workshop. Most notably, he contributed to the analysis by producing and presenting seven customized natural hazard vulnerability maps at the national level, from avalanche risk exposure to annual and monthly temperatures. These maps were critical in informing the current and projection analysis, as well as helping to classify provinces into different IPC phases.

Eng. Muhammad Amin Bahavi (iMMAP) presenting the natural hazard vulnerability maps during the IPC analysis workshop

It was an honor to have you [Eng. Muhammad Amin Bahavi] in the SFSA and IPC processes. I would like to express my appreciation for the excellent quality of service that we have consistently received from iMMAP Afghanistan. I have always appreciated the high level of your professionalism, remarkable initiative, and the quick and efficient support that we have received from iMMAP Afghanistan. During SFSA 2020, your crucial support in establishing the offline local network for the KoBo database, supervising the data entry process, and your active participation in IPC, along with your previous support in building offline databases are key to the success of these yearly processes and examples of your great support and value of your work.Mr. Abdul Baies Rashidi, FAOAF National IPC Officer

In November, the results of the SFSA and IPC analysis workshop were published in the IPC Afghanistan Acute Food Insecurity Analysis Report (August 2020 – March 2021), which set forth the food security needs of the Afghan population. The report projects that 13.1 million people will face Crisis (IPC Phase 3) or higher levels of food insecurity in Afghanistan between November 2020 and March 2021, out of which an estimated 8.85 million people will likely be in Crisis (IPC Phase 3) and nearly 4.3 million people will likely be in Emergency (IPC Phase 4). This represents a 9% increase in the proportion of the population facing Crisis (IPC Phase 3) or higher levels of food insecurity. Furthermore, around 10.6 million people are expected to be in Stressed (IPC Phase 2).

The SFSA is an essential input for the IPC analysis and directly influences the Afghanistan HNO and HRP. The SFSA and IPC process is one of the successful projects where I was directly involved and I did my best to ensure its successful completion. Thanks to all colleagues from FAOAF and IPC secretariat that helped us to achieve this success.Eng. Muhammad Amin Bahavi - iMMAP Senior GIS Officer

The report represents the cumulation of months of collaborative work and analysis, for which iMMAP is proud to have contributed to the process as an IPC analysis partner. The report will support advocacy efforts and help the humanitarian community to shed light on the food security situation in Afghanistan and raise funds for the humanitarian response. iMMAP has supported the development of the SFSA database since 2018 and looks forward to continuing to cooperate closely with IPC and FAOAF to ensure a cost-effective and evidence-based response.