Measuring food security: identifying indicators for monitoring and evaluation of a food security project in Vihiga District, Kenya.
Volege, Marjorie I
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The Christian Partners Development Agency (CPDA) food security project III Vihiga District aims at improving the quality of life by supporting communities to attain food security through improved agricultural and nutritional practices. health. water and sanitation. An evaluation of the project conducted in July. 2003 showed that although it had achieved its objectives in varying degrees, the extent of these achievements was not verifiable due to lack of a Monitoring and Evaluation system. Hence. a cross sectional survey was conducted to identify appropriate project and food security indicators and develop a monitoring and evaluation system for CPDA's food security project. The study consisted of three phases. The first phase involved desk review of CPDA's documents to generate the projects' process. outcome and impact indicators from the objectives. activities and expected outputs. The second phase of the study was to determine household food security indicators. This was done by conducting interviews in three hundred and forty randomly selected households. four focus group discussions and eight key informant interviews. The third phase involved development of a monitoring and evaluation system using the generated indicators. ifhe data collected from the field survey was analysed using SPSS (version 10) and Epi info statistical packages. The CPDA food security project has four components namely: Alternative Leadership Programme. Sustainable Agriculture. Health and Nutrition and Water and Sanitation. The primary project activities include: identification and training of Community Own Resource Persons (CORPs). i.e.. Farmer Motivators (FaMos), Community Health Workers (CHWs). Traditional Birth Attendants (TBAs) and water committees, promotion of organic farming, dissemination of information on health and nutrition issues, construction and protection of water springs. The study concentrated on Agriculture and Health and Nutrition components. The desk review revealed that CPDA had listed and quantified the project's expected outcomes based on the four project components. The outcomes had a time frame within which they were to be achieved. Most outcomes were based on the number of workshops and demonstration sessions held, demonstration plots established, CORPs trained in the various project components, level of adoption of sustainable agricultural practices and the impact of project activities on food availability and nutritional status. Accordingly, process indicators that reflect these outputs were generated in the study. The field survey revealed that the most appropriate food security indicators in Vihiga District were: Socio- demographic indicators i.e. household size, adult literacy level: Direct food security indicators i.e., amount of land owned, food production level, income level, proportion of income spent on food, asset ownership index, food consumption patterns, dietary diversity scores and indices of coping strategies. The indirect food security indicators were health and nutritional status of the children below five years of age. A monitoring and evaluation systems was then developed using the generated food security indicators from both the desk review and field survey. The system specifies what, when, how and who to collect monitoring data. The proposed system needs to be tested and put in place so that the achievement of the CPDA food security project can be assessed against the set objectives. The system recommends collection of monitoring data on a quarterly basis.