Household Food Insecurity Access Scale

Indicator Phrasing

% of households that are moderately or severely food insecure (according to HFIAS)

Indicator Phrasing

INDICATOR PHRASING: % of households that are moderately or severely food insecure (according to HFIAS)

What is its purpose?

This indicator measures the severity of household food insecurity. It focuses on the “access” aspect of food insecurity (i.e. not on food utilization). It is based on respondents’ perceptions of their households’ food vulnerability and on their behavioural responses to food insecurity.

How to Collect and Analyse the Required Data

Determine the indicator's value by using the methodology described in detail in FANTA’s very practical and easy-to-use Household Food Insecurity Access Scale Indicator Guide. The main steps involve:


1) Conducting individual interviews with the heads of a representative sample of your target households, asking them:

   > nine “occurrence” questions representing a generally increasing level of severity of food insecurity (e.g. “In the past four weeks, did you or any household member go to sleep at night hungry because there was not enough food?”)

  > nine “frequency-of-occurrence” questions that are asked as a follow-up to each occurrence question to determine how often the situation occurred (“How often did this happen?”)

These questions, alongside all details on their use, are described in the HFIAS Guide.


2) Use the guidance provided in chapter 5.4 of the HFIAS Guide (especially in Table 5) to categorize each household participating in the household as:

- Food secure

- Mildly food insecure

- Moderately food insecure

- Severely food insecure


3) Sum up the number of moderately and severely food insecure households.


4) To calculate the indicator’s value, divide the number of moderately and severely food insecure households by the total number of interviewed households. Multiply the result by 100 to convert it to a percentage.


Disaggregate by

Disaggregate the data by wealth categories.

Important Comments

1) Avoid picking and choosing only some of the nine questions – the complete set of questions does a better job of distinguishing the household food insecurity level than any question on its own.


2) The data required for this indicator is prone to seasonal variations. Therefore, if you use HFIAS for measuring your intervention’s impact, the data has to be collected at the same time of year. It is recommended to collect the data during the worst of the ‘lean season’, because the greatest number of households are likely to be affected by food insecurity at this time. However, if you intend to use HFIAS to help you identify areas with the greatest number of chronically food insecure households, do not collect the data in the lean season – you will not be able to differentiate between those who are severely food insecure through many months of the year and those who are food insecure during the lean season only.


This guidance was prepared by Tearfund ©

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