Module 5: Food Security


This Food Security module aims to provide an understanding of the current state of food security among the surveyed population. The module includes indicators on four areas of food security:

  • Access to and use of food including food assistance;
  • Access to and use of cooking fuel;
  • Use of negative coping strategies;
  • Level of household dietary diversity.

Access to and use of food and food assistance will provide information on any food gaps (quantity and quality). Access to cooking fuel will demonstrate the extent to which refugee families are able to cook a meal
without having to consider collecting or purchasing firewood. The extent to which negative coping strategies are used is indicative of the overall stress placed on the surveyed population to meet their food and other basic needs.

The objectives are as follows:

Primary objectives

  1. To determine the population’s overall ability to meet their food needs with assistance.
    a. To determine the duration of the general in-kind food distribution for recipient households (SENS recommendation: include this indicator only in contexts where in-kind food assistance is distributed).
    b. To determine the coverage of cash grants and how recipient households spent the cash (SENS recommendation: include these indicators only in contexts where cash grants are provided).
    c. To determine the coverage of the food vouchers and how recipient households use the vouchers (SENS recommendation: include this indicator only in contexts where vouchers are in place).
  2. To determine the extent to which negative coping strategies are used by households.
  3. To assess household food consumption (quantity and quality).

Secondary objectives

  1. To determine the proportion of households in each of the targeting categories (if applicable).
  2. To determine the population’s access to and use of cooking fuel (if applicable).

If the survey is conducted in refugee contexts where there is no food assistance, the primary objective #1 should be excluded. If the survey is conducted in refugee contexts where there is no distribution of cooking fuel, the secondary objective #2 should be excluded.


  • Food insecurity is one of the causes of undernutrition. Improving
    overall food security is therefore critical to improved nutrition, health and long-term development of children and other household members, and this is why collecting food security information is important.
  • The inclusion of this food security module in routine SENS surveys will provide basic information on the existing food security situation among the surveyed population.
  • Additional assessments will be required to gain a more detailed understanding of the causes and impacts of food insecurity, its dynamics and likely evolution in time, as well as for analysing the impact of responses. There are various methods for food security assessments and it is recommended to partner with experienced organisations to conduct these assessments.
  • The majority of indicators proposed in this module have already been used and tested in previous SENS surveys conducted in refugee populations, and the methods are based on international guidelines (by entities such as FANTA, FAO and WFP), that have been adapted to the refugee context.
  • A standard questionnaire adapted to the local context should be used for the collection of data on food assistance, cooking fuel, negative coping strategies, and household dietary diversity.
  • The standard reporting format for food security indicators should be followed in all SENS survey reports produced in refugee contexts.
  • Interpretation of the results will require qualitative contextual analysis.
  • Providing good quality training to survey teams and supervising them well will help ensure that data are reliable.


ricon_download     Module 5

SENS Module 5 – Food Security                             fticon_msword fticon_pdf

ricon_tools    Module 5 – Tools

Tool 1 – Food Security Data                                 fticon_msexcel

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