Elements of Food Security and Nutrition

Elements of Food Security and Nutrition

Food availability is meant by the physical existence of food either from own production or from the market. At the national level, food availability derives from the combination of domestic food stocks, commercial food imports, food aid and domestic food production.

Access to food is ensured when all households and all individuals within those households have sufficient resources to obtain appropriate food for a nutritious diet. It is dependent on the level of household resources (capital, labour and knowledge), food prices and existence of social safety net. Hence, adequate access to food can be achieved without being self-suffcient in food production. More importantly, it is the ability of households to generate sufficient income, which, together with own production, can be used to meet food needs.

Use and Utilisation
Utilisation of food has a socioeconomic and biological aspect. If sufficient and nutritious food is available and accessible, a household has to make decisions about what food is to be consumed and how the food is allocated within the household. Appropriate food intake (balanced and micronutrient-rich food) for young children and mothers is very important for nutritional status.

Utilisation requires not only an adequate diet, but also a healthy physical environment, including safe drinking water and adequate sanitary facilities (to avoid disease) as well as an understanding of proper health care, food preparation and storage processes. In addition, health-care capacity, behaviours, and practices are equally important.

Stability refers to the temporal dimension of foodsecurity. A distinction can be drawn between chronic (permanent) food insecurity and transitory food insecurity (due to cyclical food shortages during lean season or temporary food shortages caused by shocks). Civil conflicts can cause temporary food insecurity but they may have negative impact on food security over a long period of time.