Tools for Food Security and Nutrition Analysis

Household Economy Approach and Cost of the Diet

The Cost of the Diet Process

A Cost of the Diet assessment follows a logical process from identifying the food security and nutrition problem, to data collection and analysis through to recommendations and conclusions.

The figure below gives an overview of the tasks and information required before and during a Cost of the Diet assessment. The Cost of the Diet guidelines explain each of these steps in more detail.

Figure 1. The Cost of the Diet Process

The timeframe for a Cost of the Diet assessment will depend upon the length of data collection. A rough guide is as follows:

Week 1: Background literature review
Week 2: Recruit and train staff, identify markets, write a food list
Week 3: Collect data in markets, do interviews and FGDs
Week 4: Enter, clean and analyse data
Weeks 5 & 6: Write report

A Cost of the Diet assessment will require the following individuals:

Assessment leader: This individual commissions an assessment based on an understanding of why and where it is needed as a result of knowledge of the local environment and its effects on food production, diet, nutrition and livelihoods. The assessment leader typically works in the field of food security or nutrition.

The practitioner: This individual can be the same as the Assessment leader but may be a consultant or a senior member of staff. This individual trains the data collectors, oversees data collection, analyses the data and writes the final report. Depending on the knowledge and capacity of the agency or country office commissioning the assessment, the practitioner maybe required to provide support planning an assessment, such as defining the objectives and the scope of the study. It is recommended that a practitioner certified by Save the Children conducts an assessment. This will ensure that the data are collected, analysed and reported to a high standard. To become a certified Cost of the Diet practitioner an individual is required to attend a Practitioner’s Training, lead an assessment on their own and send the data and the final report for review by staff of Save the Children UK. Once certified, practitioners will receive an official certificate.

The data collectors: These individuals will be hired from the area in which the assessment is being conducted and will collect the market survey data and conduct interviews and focus group discussions. For more information about the skills required by these individuals and how they should
be trained.

An assessment administrator: This individual organises the recruitment of data collectors and makes practical arrangements for data collection including permission from managers of food markets to visit and interview traders; booking the training venue, hotel and transport for the team; and ordering stationary and equipment. This individual should be based in the assessment area or have very good knowledge of it. If the assessment is being done in an area that is new to an agency, it might be necessary to identify a local partner organisation to provide this individual or support.