Measuring Urban Food Security

Cameron McCordic, Bruce Frayne


Food and nutrition security in Southern African cities

Establishing accurate, precise, reliable and valid measures of urban food security is an ongoing challenge in development studies. This chapter reviews three USAID food security scales: the Household Dietary Diversity Score (HDDS); the Household Food Insecure Access Scale (HFIAS); and the Months of Adequate Household Food Provisioning (MAHFP). Specifically, these scales have been applied to field research administered by the African Food Security Urban Network (AFSUN) that was conducted in 14 cities of the Global South in Mexico, Jamaica, Ghana, South Africa, Namibia, Zimbabwe, Zambia, Lesotho, Botswana, Mozambique, Malawi, Kenya, India and China. The study finds that these scales perform reasonably well as efficient, valid and reliable measures of food security. However, the scales have deficiencies in their inter-cultural translation, their limited sensitivity to over-consumption, and their minimal integration of food safety challenges. These challenges also provide avenues for future development of urban food security measures.

Citation: 2017. In B. Frayne, J. Crush, and C. McCordic (Eds.), Food and nutrition security in Southern African cities. London: Routledge and Earthscan.

Scroll to Top