Assessing food shortage

Gebreyesus S, Lunde T, Mariam D, Woldehanna T, Lindtjorn B. Is the adapted Household Food Insecurity Access Scale (HFIAS) developed internationally to measure food insecurity valid in urban and rural households of Ethiopia? BMC Nutrition 2015; 1(1): 2.

The concept of food insecurity encompasses three dimensions. One of these dimensions, the access component of household food insecurity is measured through the use of the Household Food Insecurity Access Scale (HFIAS). Despite its application in Ethiopia and other similar developing countries, its performance is still poorly explored. Our study aims to evaluate the validity of the HFIAS in Ethiopia.

We conducted repeated cross-sectional studies in urban and rural villages of the Butajera District in southern Ethiopia. The validation was conducted on a pooled sample of 1,516 households, which were selected using a simple random sampling method. The HFIAS was translated into the local Amharic language and tested for face validity. We also evaluated the tool’s internal consistency using Cronbach’s alpha and factor analysis. We tested for parallelism on HFIAS item response curves across wealth status and further evaluated the presence of a dose-response relationship between the food insecurity level and the consumption of food items, as well as between household wealth status and food insecurity. Additionally, we evaluated the reproducibility of the tool through the first and second round of HFIAS scores.

The HFIAS exhibited a good internal consistency (Cronbach’s alpha for the values of rounds 1 and 2 were 0.76 and 0.73, respectively). A factor analysis (varimax rotation) resulted in two main factors: the first factor described a level of mild to moderate food insecurity, while the second factor described severe food insecurity. HFIAS item response curves were parallel across wealth status in the sample households, with a dose-response trend between food insecurity levels and the likelihood of previous day food consumption being observed. The overall HFIAS score did not change over the two rounds of data collection.

The HFIAS is a simple and valid tool to measure the access component of household food insecurity. However, we recommend the adaptation of questions and wordings and adding examples before application, as we found a discrepancy in understanding of some of the nine HFIAS questions.

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