Solving the Need for Up-to-Date Food Consumption Data in Venezuela

Solving the Need for Up-to-Date Food Consumption Data in Venezuela


By Daniela Rubio and Jenny Shapiro | Program Manager, Senior Operations Specialist - International Development

Problem

An organization belonging to the Food Security Humanitarian Cluster in Venezuela uses data to influence decision making within the cluster. Since the beginning of the Venezuelan crisis back in 2014, this organization has been tracking and documenting the failing delivery of basic public services and the impact of the crisis on the food security of the affected population in Zulia state. The organization used to collect data once a year (one point in time) with enumerators, and with a limited regional coverage (only in Zulia and Maracaibo). They have been using the same dataset for the past 10 months because the conditions in Venezuela have worsened and collecting on the ground data is challenging for a variety of reasons, including the onset of COVID-19. 

With the data collection at a yearly cadence, the organization is unable to keep up with the current needs of the population. As COVID-19 worsens around the world conditions continue to change at a rapid pace. Access to food has changed given the current humanitarian crisis, but the local organization is making decisions based on what was collected before the crisis and the situation has worsened since then which is not optimal.

Solution 

Since June 2020, the local organization alongside experts in the humanitarian information management space designed two surveys to launch on the Premise app and crowdsource data to have timely information about dietary daily consumption and needs as well as weekly coping mechanisms.

The data collected to date on food security, corresponding to FAO and WFP standards and established indices, allows the local organization in Venezuela to independently daily and weekly monitor developments and identify trends, where previously monitoring was limited to annual data collection campaigns realized by enumerators, limited to priority locations in Zulia like Maracaibo urban and suburban area. The availability of current and continuous data was identified as a key benefit of the technical innovation the Premise App data collection offers to the partner.

Survey #1 – Daily Food Consumption

The key objective of this survey is to collect data that helps organizations in the food security space identify where and who is in need of food assistance. To do this, the survey is composed of a set of questions that derive from the Household Dietary Diversity Score.

The Household Dietary Diversity Score (HDDS) is a population-level indicator of household food access. The questions represent a rapid assessment tool and a simple count of food groups that a household has consumed over the preceding 24 hours. The data collected can also be analyzed to provide information on specific food groups of interest. The HDDS is meant to reflect the economic ability of a household to access a variety of foods in the past 24 hours.

This survey is available on the Premise app to those contributors residing in Venezuela specifically in the regions of Caracas, Miranda, Tachira and Zulia. We have a sample size of 95 submissions per region and make sure that at least 50% of the respondents are women.

Survey #2 – Weekly Food Consumption

The key objective of this survey is to collect data that helps organizations in the food security space identify where and who is in need of food assistance. To do this, the survey is composed of a set of questions that derive in 2 key scores: the Food Consumption Score (FCS) and the Coping Strategy Index (CSI).

The Food Consumption Score (FCS) is used by the World Food Program (WFP) to measure the frequency of consumption of different food groups by a household over the previous seven days. There are standard weights for each food group (more nutritionally dense foods are given higher weights) and overall scores can range from 0-112. 

The Coping Strategy Index (CSI) is another WFP indicator that helps to assess overall food security by measuring the extent to which households may use harmful coping strategies when there isn’t enough food or money to buy food.

This survey is available on the Premise app to those contributors residing in Venezuela specifically in the regions of Caracas, Miranda, Tachira and Zulia. We have a sample size of 385 submissions per region and make sure that at least 50% of the respondents are women.

Expected Impact

The organization will be using this data and dashboard on bi-weekly meetings with humanitarian cluster organizations. Specifically, this information will be shared throughout the food security cluster with the aim of making operational decisions based on the available data and a data-driven prioritization of assistance. In addition to helping humanitarian aid organizations make data-driven decisions, sharing this information will also help to bolster the profile of NGOs and civil society organizations as key actors in the humanitarian crisis response. 

Initial Results of Survey #1

Thus far we have received just over 21,000 submissions from the four regions of interest with an overall HDDS score of four which remains the same when looking at the results from each individual state surveyed. The score of 4 out of the 12 points available maximum suggests that the vast majority of Venezuelans currently have a relatively homogenous diet regardless of geographic location. This could be linked to a widespread caloric and/or protein deficit in daily diets and economic hardships being experienced by a large part of the population, however, further analysis and feedback from the local organizations and food security humanitarian cluster might be required to fully understand the initial results. 

Initial Results of Survey #2 

Thus far we have received just under 9,000 submissions for the Weekly Food Consumption survey. The average FCS score across the four priority regions is 55 which clears the WFP standard for ‘Acceptable’ (score of 35) but does not suggest a very high concentration of nutritionally dense food. This corresponds with data from individual questions showing that ‘Cereals, Plantains or Tubers’ were consumed every day of the last seven days by 37.91% of the population. 

It is interesting to note that Zulia seems to be faring better than its neighbor to the south, Tachira. Zulia has an individual FCS of 57 and the respondents said when asked about the frequency of consumption of the relatively nutrient-poor foods like tubers 31.6% said they had eaten them every day of the last seven.

In Tachira, the FCS score is 54 and 42.57% of respondents reported that they had eaten cereals, plantains or tubers every day of the last seven. This suggests that while somewhat close in geographic proximity, based on our sample, the population in Tachira state is struggling to access a diversity of nutrient-rich food as compared with people in Zulia state.

In terms of coping strategies, the most commonly reported ones were spending food savings, consuming food that was cheaper or less preferred and decreasing the portion size of meals. 

Next Steps

Premise and the implementation team plan to continue collaborating with local organizations by looking into the data and insights for action and impact on basic delivery services, like food assistance, fuel availability, and health care access. We hope this information can assist NGOs across multiple sectors to gain a real-time understanding of the current situation faced by the population in Venezuela. 

If you would like to learn more about how Premise can help you gather the data you need, feel free to reach out at info@premise.com.

 

Premise was selected as a grant recipient to help provide innovative solutions to the humanitarian crisis that has been compounded by COVID-19 in Venezuela, as part of the JuntosEsMejor Challenge funded by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and Inter-American Development Bank (IDB)

We are currently collaborating with international experts on information management in the humanitarian space, as well as Code for Venezuela, a technology non-profit formed by the Venezuelan diaspora focused on solving Venezuela’s most pressing needs. Our goal is to collect up-to-date data for international and national non-governmental organizations that would help them make more informed decisions and better basic services to Venezuelans. We will continue to share more insights and stories about our work on this project.

About Daniela Rubio and Jenny Shapiro

Daniela Rubio, as a Program Manager, works with Premise clients and partners during the implementation of programs and projects in the international development space. She works cross-functionally with different teams at Premise including growth, engineering and solutions to make sure all aspects of our projects run smoothly. She provides insights to the marketing team and supports the product and sales teams in customer discovery discussions with potential clients and partners. She has more than 10 years of global experience helping organizations and governments tackle complex problems with strategic thinking, partnership and cultural empathy.

Jenny Shaprio helps to design and implement data collection tools and manage Contributor networks for our international development programs, with a special focus on global health. She works closely alongside Premise program managers and country support specialists to ensure that our clients get the carefully localized data they need, as well as maintaining the overall quality of Premise networks and the Contributor experience.