On 6-7 November over 30 experts from a dozen national and international agencies and research institutions gathered at the FAO Headquarters in Rome to discuss how to improve the relevance and reliability of food data collected in national Household Consumption and Expenditure Surveys (HCES).
The meeting, convened by the FAO in collaboration with the World Bank and funded by the Global Strategy, brought together statisticians, economists and nutritionists to share recent research on how different survey design features affect the quality of data on food acquisition or consumption. The goal is to build on the strengths of each discipline to draw lessons on how food data can be collected in HCES so as to best serve multiple purposes (from food security to nutrition and poverty analysis, to name a few).
The starting point of the meeting was the joint FAO, IHSN, World Bank Assessment of the Reliability and Relevance of the Food Data Collected in National Household Consumption and Expenditure Surveys, which was presented at a side-event of the 45th session of the UN Statistical Commission in March 2014. The meeting featured new and exciting research on critical issues identified in the assessment, such as the choice of an optimal recall period for food items, the length and specificity of food lists, measuring individual as well as household consumption, and capturing food eaten away from home (which constitutes an increasing share of food budgets and calories consumed as countries develop).
The plan is for this group to continue collaborative work over the next 2-3 years to develop and disseminate science-based standards for data collection that can be endorsed by the international statistical community and be useful to survey data practitioners worldwide.