Africare Food Security Review

A clearing house for sharing Africare’s Title II food security
initiative experiences and tools

Managing Editor: Leah A.J. Cohen

Editorial Advisors: Della E. McMillan, Harold V. Tarver, and Bonaventure B. Traoré


Over the past 20 years, since its first Institutional Capacity Building (ICB) grant from the United States Agency for International Development, Office of Food for Peace (USAID FFP), Africare has focused on learning from its experience designing and implementing Title II food security initiatives and its applied research and collaboration with a number of leading, African, regional and national centers of excellence. Africare has also focused considerable effort on harmonizing monitoring and evaluation (M&E) systems between its different country programs. Africare designed the Africare Food Security Review (AFSR) paper series as a forum in which to publish important findings and tools from Africare’s Title II food security programs. One of the most important aims of this series is to provide a user-friendly mechanism through which Cooperating Sponsors (CS) can access and use the reports and tools published in the series in design, implementation, and M&E of their own Title II food security initiatives. This is another step on the road to meeting objectives stated by USAID FFP related to improving the capacity of Title II Cooperating Sponsors and beneficiary communities through sharing of information and lessons learned.


Types of Technical Paper in Series

The AFSR series has four main categories of publications:

  • Guidance,
  • Brief,
  • Critical Resource Information Brief (CRIB), and
  • longer case studies and comparative research reports.

1)  Guidance documents are manuals that provide clear, step-by-step instructions for using or adapting the tools for assessing program impacts. Examples include the Success Stories Guidance, the Food Security Community Capacity Index (FSCCI) Guidance, and the Months of Adequate Household Food Provisioning based on Participatory Rural Appraisals (MAHFP-PRA) Guidance.

2)  Briefs are designed to distill the important and cross-cutting lessons from Africare’s longer field and evaluation reports. These are meant to get to the meat of the issue in order to reach a wider audience.

3) Critical Resource Information Briefs (CRIBs) are designed to provide a forum for Africare working groups to identify and efficiently respond to areas of urgent need in capacity building. The short format ensures that staff in the field can download and incorporate the information quickly and effectively.

4) Those documents that are not included under the sub-titles of Guidance, Brief, and CRIB are more lengthy and detailed documents on Africare’s field experience presented as case studies and comparative research. Each paper provides a summary of the lessons learned that apply not only to Africare’s own programs, but also that can be applied to the programs of other Cooperating Sponsors.

Currently Available AFSR Papers

Click on the AFSR Topic Index for a table that cross references AFSR papers (by number) with specific topics useful to Title II Cooperating Sponsors.

For a complete list of AFSR papers with their summaries by year click on the links below.

2007 AFSR Papers Summaries >>

2008 AFSR Papers Summaries >>

AFSR No. 1: “Guidance: How to Measure the Number of Months of Adequate Household Food Provisioning (MAHFP) Based on Participatory Rural Appraisals in Food Security Interventions” (13 pp., 210 KB, PDF) Africare, 2007.
Africare uses its measure Months of Adequate Household Food Provisioning (MAHFP) to assess the extent of food insecurity in project areas, to develop and initiate intervention strategies, to target vulnerable households, and to assess and track progress made in improving food security throughout the life spans of food security interventions. This guidance has been developed as a practical tool for field agents of Africare and other Cooperating Sponsors (CS) for measuring and using MAHFP based on Participatory Rural Appraisal (PRA) techniques (hereafter referred to as MAHFP–PRA). In the MAHFP-PRA method food security committees qualitatively come to an agreement about the percentages of households in different categories of food security based on the group’s perception of MAHFP.


AFSR No. 2: “Guidance: How to Measure the Food Security Community Capacity Index (FSCCI)” (13 pp., 210 KB, PDF) Africare, 2007.
Over twelve years ago Africare developed the Food Security Community Capacity Index (FSCCI) to measure beneficiary communities’ technical ability and knowledge (capacity) needed to deal successfully with issues related to food security in their communities. In the most recent update of the tool in 2004, the FSCCI was revised to better take into account the special capacities needed to cope with cyclical risks and shocks, specifically HIV/AIDS. This guidance has been prepared to provide staff of Africare and other Cooperating Sponsors (and the communities they serve) with a brief background on the evolution of this tool, a clear set of steps to use in measuring the FSCCI within beneficiary communities, and the different ways this tool can be used. Annex C., Part 2: “Tool for Entering Rankings and Calculating Scores for the FSCCI” is the MS Excel spreadsheet with the necessary mathematical formulas embedded that will automatically update the score as data are entered.
AFSR No. 3: “Draft Guidance: How to Measure the Food Security Program Capacity Index (FSPCI)” (28 pp., 208 KB, PDF) Africare, 2007.
The Food Security Program Capacity Index (FSPCI) is a self-assessment tool that food security programs can use to measure their knowledge of important guidance and staff capacity in key programming areas. It currently consists of 10 elements, each of which measures one of the core capacities needed to design and execute a food security program. Aside from its use in measuring program capacity, the consensus-based method used to calculate the FSPCI is an important and effective tool for orienting new staff and refreshing existing staff on the key concepts that Africare uses in its Title II programs. This document is intended to be a draft guide for food security staff within Africare and other Cooperating Sponsors (CS) on how the tool is being revised and how it should be calculated. Although the index provided here focuses on the basic skills and guidance needed for food security programming, the basic template could be adapted to other types of programming. Annex A., Part 2: “Africare Food Security Program Capacity Index Review Form” is the MS Excel spreadsheet with the necessary mathematical formulas embedded that will automatically update the score as data are entered.
AFSR No. 4: “Guidance: How to Compile a Success Story” (13 pp., 632 KB, PDF) Judy C. Bryson and Nicole Eley, 2007.
In developing this guidance, Africare aimed to produce a simple and concise guidance for writing “success stories” to be used by Africare field staff and report writers, as well as relevant staff of other Private Voluntary Organizations (PVO) and Cooperating Sponsors (CS). A success story illustrates a positive change in a Title II program by telling the “who, what, where, why, when, and how” of an individual, household, or community in an anecdotal story that represents the case of many. This guidance describes the six-step process for identifying a success story during routine project discussion groups, presents a suggested template for writing the success story, and makes suggestions for using photographs to enhance the success story’s impact.
AFSR No. 5: “Brief: Two Methods for Measuring Household Food Security and Vulnerability—Evidence from the Zondoma Food Security Initiative, Burkina Faso” (5 pp., 84 KB, PDF) Simeon Nanama and Karim Souli, 2007.
Monitoring project impact on the most vulnerable portion of the population has been a central objective of Phase II of Africare’s Zondoma Food Security Initiative in Burkina Faso. Given this focus, this paper provides the results of an analysis (conducted in 2005) of two methods of classifying vulnerable households: the Months of Adequate Household Food Provisioning (MAHFP) and a questionnaire-based method for assessing food security and vulnerability developed by Cornell University and FANTA.
AFSR No. 6: “Brief: Community Based Use of the FSCCI to Identify and Manage Risk in Uganda” (11 pp., 114 KB, PDF) Florence Tushemerirwe and Della E. McMillan, 2007.
This paper presents the results of the research on the use of the Food Security Community Capacity Index (FSCCI) in Africare’s Uganda Food Security Initiative project (UFSI) and summarizes the lessons learned, including recommendations for how the FSCCI can be used to increase the capacity of communities to manage risk. These lessons have fed into the revision of the FSCCI guidance (see above) that was completed at the Institutional Capacity Building (ICB)-supported workshop in September 2007.
AFSR No. 7: “Use of a Revised Version of the FSCCI to Identify and Manage Health and Nutrition Risks and Vulnerability in Guinea” (12 pp., 131 KB, PDF) Prosper Pogba, Sékou II Condé, Della E. McMillan, and Bonaventure Traoré, 2007.
Africare’s Food Security and Community Capacity Index (FSCCI) is normally used to summarize different aspects of community capacity by converting rankings on variables and indicators into one total score that serves as a standardized measure of community capacity. As important as general community capacity is to sustained food security initiatives, there are situations in which specialized capacities are also critical. This paper describes a new index (the FSCCI-SIAC or Food Security Community Capacity Index – Systeme d’information a asise communautaire). This index was developed by the Guinea Food Security Initiative (GnFSI) and uses some of the basic principals of the FSCCI to target the more specialized capacities that communities need to implement effective growth monitoring promotion and nutritional rehabilitation programs. This paper shows ways that the FSCCI-SIAC can be used by Title II programs to identify districts that are vulnerable in terms of weak capacity to design and manage village-based growth monitoring and rehabilitation programs.
AFSR No. 8: “Identifying and Managing a Major Shock: Case Study of the Title II Funded Guinea Food Security Initiative” (9 pp., 110 KB, PDF) Sidikiba Sidibé, Della E. McMillan, and Bonaventure B. Traoré, 2007.
Africare has used its experience in the Title II funded Guinea Food Security Initiative (GnFSI) to examine how investments in organizational capacity of village and district community groups have facilitated the early detection of a major shock, monitoring of famine conditions during the food crisis, and emergency food aid distribution, as well as assistance in managing the response to the shock with project and non-project resources. This paper provides:
  • a brief background review of USAID’s emerging concern with better understanding the role of shocks and risk in food security planning;
  • an analysis of the role played by the GnFSI growth monitoring promotion system in the early identification of a major shock that occurred during the life time of the project;
  • an analysis of the role of the project in managing the crisis; and
  • an assessment of the extent to which the impact of GnFSI’s crisis management can be detected through the project’s existing monitoring and evaluation indicators, in particular the MAHFP (Month of Adequate Household Food Provisioning) and the FSCCI (Food Security Community Capacity Index).
AFSR No. 9: “The Link between Health/Nutrition and Household Vulnerability for Phase II of the Zondoma Food Security Initiative in Burkina Faso: MAHFP as a Tool for Targeting Project Interventions” (12 pp., 105 KB, PDF) Ambroise Nanéma, Jean Parfait Wenceslas Douamba, Koudougou Achile Segda, and Rosine Cissé, 2008.
This paper demonstrates the utility and identifies the challenges of using the Months of Adequate Household Food Provisioning (MAHFP) as a tool for linking vulnerability and health/nutrition practices, based on the findings of the baseline study of the Zondoma Food Security Initiative, Phase II (ZFSI Phase II) in Burkina Faso. This paper specifically explores feeding practices and nutrition of pregnant or lactating woman and young children, child and mother health and treatment practices, and household access to water to see if they vary by household food security level. This data is intended to be used to inform ongoing intervention strategies with specific goals of improving mother and child health.
AFSR No10: “Comparative Research/Analysis–Months of Adequate Household Food Provisioning in Africare’s Title II Food Security Programs” (34 pp., 232 KB PDF) Judy C. Bryson and Leah A.J. Cohen, 2008.
Africare identified the need to review the relationship of one of its key measurements of food security, the Months of Adequate Household Food Provisioning (MAHFP), across different country programs, both in absolute terms and as compared to other impact indicators. The ICB’s focus on comparing MAHFP with other indicators and measures of food security has led to the analysis presented in this paper, which compares the trends detected by Africare’s MAHFP measure with those detected by Africare’s Food Security Community Capacity Index (FSCCI) and standard anthropometric measurements, such as stunting and feeding practices of children.
AFSR No. 11: “Direct Distribution of Commodities for People Living with HIV/AIDS: Lessons Learned from Rwanda and Burkina Faso” (12 pp., 118 KB PDF) Stacey Maslowsky, Sidikiba Sidibé, and Leah A.J. Cohen, 2008.
This paper presents some of the initial experiences and preliminary observations from Burkina Faso and Rwanda where two Title II pilot projects (FY05-FY09) were executed in which food aid was used to improve the living standards and nutritional status of people living with HIV/AIDS (PLWHA). The review of the pilot activities produced three main recommendations for the continued period of the pilot projects and future initiatives that focus on improving nutrition and food security of people living with HIV. These included the need for effective indicators to track progress, the need for sharing information on these new activities between country programs, and the need for tailoring nutrition education to the specific needs of people living with HIV.
AFSR No. 12: “The Success of the Hearth Model in Guinea” (17 pp., 202 KB PDF) Stacey Maslowsky, Sidikiba Sidibé, and Bonaventure B. Traoré, 2008.
This paper contributes to USAID’s ability to document field-level impacts of Title II activities through success stories by describing an early impact of one of Africare’s Title II success stories: the Hearth Model program in Guinea. The Hearth Model provides care and support to children through promotion of locally available, culturally appropriate, and affordable food products, while simultaneously promoting behavior changes of their primary guardians related to caring practices, including hygiene, dietary practices, and health care. Its success in substantially lower severe and moderate malnutrition in children is attributed (in part) to the low cost, strong buy-in by communities, participation and endorsement by the government, a participatory approach, and use of local foods.
AFSR No. 13“Tracking Vulnerability: Lessons Learned Using Vulnerability Indicators in the Gikongoro Food Security/HIV/AIDS Initiative in Rwanda” (43pp. 467KB, PDF), Sidikiba Sidibé, Della E. McMillan, and Leah A.J. Cohen, 2008.
This paper provides a brief overview of the use of two standard indicators (the quantitative Months of Adequate Household Food Provisioning [MAHFP] and the Food Security Community Capacity Index [FSCCI]) and one project specific vulnerability index indicator to assess and monitor vulnerability in the general project intervention area as a whole and particularly for HIV-affected households. The assessment of the utility, comparability, and efficiency of these indicators for tracking vulnerability was done using two datasets (the sample of households in the intervention area used in the mid-term evaluation and a sample of households of PLHIV surveyed shortly after the mid-term) from the Gikongoro Food Security/HIV/AIDS Initiative (GFSI) in Rwanda.
AFSR No. 15: “Development and Implementation of a Community Early Warning System and Emergency Responses (CEWS-ER) in Niger.” (37pp. 302KB, PDF), Aboubacar Rhili, Della E. McMillan, and Leah A.J. Cohen, 2008.
The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) Office for Food for Peace now requires that Title II programs include an early warning and response system. However, documentation of the creation and impacts of these systems is limited. This paper describes the process that was used to develop Africare’s first community early warning system and emergency responses (CEWS-ER) as part of its Title II food security program in the Agadez region of Niger. The current Agadez CEWS-ER has evolved from the initial CARE model to take into account the unique features of the arid Agadez region, including the creation of an innovative community development fund component for emergency response that can be used for short-term relief. The Agadez CEWS-ER is widely regarded as Africare’s most successful early warning and emergency response system to date, making it an exemplary system to document and use as a model for the development of future systems and tracking systems of CEWS-ER models.
AFSR No. 16: Development and Implementation of a Method for Early Warning and Response in Title II Programming in the Zondoma Province of Burkina Faso (2006-2008): Progress Report and Initial Lessons Learned (34 pp., 265 KB, PDF) Ismaël Goraï Diallo, Ahmed Moussa N’game, and Della E. McMillan, 2008.
This paper provides an overview of a recently developed, community-based system for early warning and response (EWR) in Burkina Faso. The paper also reports on the experience of setting up this system during the last 16 months (September 2007-December 2008) and on a critical review of the initial lesson learned during this time. Finally, revisions to the original forms and processes are recommended. Although USAID now requires EWR systems for Title II programs, documentation of the development, implementation, and impact of these systems is scarce. Therefore, this paper attempts to document the process used to develop the EWR for the Africare Zondoma Food Security Initiative (ZFSI) intervention area and early lessons learned in order to inform development and implementation of other Title II EWR systems.


AFSR No. 17: “Guidance: How to Measure the Number of Months of Adequate Household Food Provisioning (MAHFP) Based on Quantitative Methods and Isolating Food Aid Provisions” (16 pp., 183 KB, PDF), Issa Konda, Ronaldo Sigauque, and Pascal Payet 2008.
Africare designed the indicator Months of Adequate Household Food Provisioning (MAHFP) to assess the extent of food insecurity in project areas, to develop and initiate intervention strategies, to target vulnerable households, and to assess and track progress made in improving food security throughout the life spans of food security interventions (FSIs). As part of its Institutional Capacity Building (ICB) grant (FY04-FY08) from USAID/DCHA/FFP, Africare identified the need to analyze the questionnaires used by field teams in food security projects to ultimately develop a sound, standardized quantitative measurement of MAHFP. This assessment resulted in distinguishing between two different methods for measuring the MAHFP indicator that have been used by Africare programs that are useful in different ways: MAHFP-PRA (Africare’s guidance on this is AFSR No. 1) and MAHFP-average. This guidance supplements the FANTA guidelines on MAHFP-average (Bilinsky and Swindale 2007) by taking into consideration the type and source of food provisioning (mainly distinguishing food aid from other household food provisions).  It offers a revised questionnaire format for considering food aid that uses five main questions and provides an Excel tool  (Annex C, Part 2: Africare MAHFP-average Excel Tool, Household Response Record Sheet and Data Calculation Sheet) for data entry and calculation through embedded formulas.


AFSR No. 18: “Africare’s Experience with VitaCow and VitaGoat Food Processing Systems” (15 pp., 157 KB, PDF), Brian Harrigan and Leah A.J. Cohen, 2008.
This paper reports on the experience of using Malnutrition Matters’ VitaCow (VC) and VitaGoat (VG) processing technologies in Africare country programs. VitaCow and VitaGoat are two related types of food processing machines that were designed to convert soybeans into soy milk and its derivatives as well as a variety of other foods (fruits and grains) into processed and/or preserved food products. The paper outlines the strengths and weaknesses that have been observed in applying these technologies to reduce malnutrition and promote income generation. The intent is that lessons learned and recommendations presented here will inform future installations of VitaCow and VitaGoat technologies in Africare programs and those of other Cooperating Sponsors.
AFSR No. 19: “Lessons Learned from Pilot Testing VitaGoat Technology in Guinea” (14 pp., 670 KB, PDF) Mamadou Conté, Bonaventure Traoré, and Della E. McMillan, 2008.

One objective of Africare’s Title II Institutional Capacity Building (ICB) grant (2003-2008) from the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) was to pilot test the introduction of community-based soybean processing equipment as a component of its existing and new Title II programs. This paper provides a brief overview of the results of one of these pilot programs, which was introduced in connection with the Guinea Food Security Initiative (GnFSI) in the region of Dinguiraye in 2004 and later in Dabola region in 2005. The paper assess project record data and information from field staff familiar with three VitaGoat system installed with established women’s groups in Guinea.

AFSR No. 20: “Critical Resource Information Brief (CRIB) #1: Selecting FANTA Indicators for Nutrition Education for People Living with HIV (PLHIV)” (7 pp., 70 KB, PDF), Africare Health, Nutrition, and HIV/AIDS Working Group 2008.

This CRIB presents a complete list of FANTA indicators for measuring the impact of nutritional education and counseling tailored specifically to PLHIV. It is intended to assist in development of key tracking indicators for nutrition and education activities that are targeted for and will inevitable impact people living with HIV as the new round of Africare food security projects are initiated in 2009. The indicators and key considerations are presented based on FANTA’s Guide to Monitoring and Evaluation of Nutrition Assessment, Education, and Counseling of People Living with HIV.

AFSR No. 21: Critical Resource Information Brief (CRIB) # 2: Use of FANTA’s Food Assistance Programming in the Context of HIV.(27 pp., 202 KB PDF) Africare Health, Nutrition, and HIV/AIDS Working Group 2008.

This CRIB was developed to provide a condensed overview of the contents of each chapter of the FANTA AND WFP guide “Food Assistance Programming in the Context of HIV” and to note some of the topics and issues that would be of particular interest to Africare. The guide covers a broad range of issues relevant to food assistance in areas of high HIV prevalence, from information on potential donors of programs that integrate food assistance and HIV to monitoring and evaluation systems, from education to emergency response.

AFSR No. 22: Critical Resource Information Brief (CRIB) # 3: Proxy Indicators for Identifying HIV-Affected Households. 6 pp., 58 KB PDF) Africare Health, Nutrition, and HIV/AIDS Working Group 2008.
The CRIB provides a list of proxy indicators from FANTA and WFP (2007), as well as other sources such as Save the Children (2004) and UN WFP (2008), for identifying people living with HIV (PLHIV) and their households. The aim is to provide Africare staff and field staff from other Title II Cooperating Sponsors with the critical information needed to select the most promising and appropriate proxy indicators for identifying HIV-affected individuals and households in a quick reference format. Field teams that intend to more specifically target HIV-affected households in their food security initiatives should use this brief to select a number of proxy indicators to field test and validate.
AFSR No. 24: “Use of MAHFP to Track Vulnerability in Households of People Living with HIV (PLHIV) in Food Security Programs in Burkina Faso:  A Focus on Food Security Status, Household Risk Factors, and Selected Nutritional Concerns Specific to PLHIV” (31 pp., 284 KB PDF) BADIEL, Baya Valentin; Jean Wenceslas Parfait DOUAMBA; Leah A.J. COHEN; and Manuel TAHYO, 2008.

This paper describes the results of a pilot study on how the level of household food security (based on the Months of Adequate Household Food Provisioning [MAHFP] indicator) relates to a number of socio-economic household characteristics and selected nutritional concerns specific to people living with the human immunodeficiency virus (PLHIV) in Africare/Burkina’s Zondoma Food Security Initiative, Phase II (ZFSI II) intervention area. The paper makes recommendations on the types of data that should be collected through routine and specialized questionnaires and interventions that aim to reduce vulnerability of households with PLHIV. It provides the original questionnaire used to gather data for this study, as well as a revised questionnaire to be field tested that takes into consideration the recommendations and lessons learned from this study.


AFSR No. 25: “Critical Resource Information Brief (CRIB) # 4: Selecting FANTA/WFP Indicators for Food Programming in the Context of HIV.”(5 pp., 57 KB PDF) Africare Health, Nutrition, and HIV/AIDS Working Group 2008.
This CRIB presents a list of the indicators recommended in the Food and Nutrition Technical Assistance project and the World Food Programme guide “Food Assistance Programming in the Context of HIV” for assessing the impacts of food programming on households in HIV-affected areas. This CRIB also briefly presents the most basic factors to consider when developing and selecting M&E indicators for this purpose that are more comprehensively addressed in the FANTA and WFP guide. It is intended as a quick reference to the much more detailed and comprehensive FANTA/WFP guide.

These publications were made possible through support provided by the Office of Food for Peace, Bureau of Democracy, Conflict and Humanitarian Assistance, U.S. Agency for International Development, under the terms of Award No. AFP-a-00-03-00052. The opinions expressed herein are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of the U.S. Agency for International Development.