Cost of the Diet assessments are undertaken in specific livelihood zones, defined using the process outlined in the Household Economy Analysis method.
Before data collection begins, a detailed list of all foods, local, imported, grown and wild, available at any time during the year is compiled. This list is then used as the basis for the market survey and the interview questionnaire.
A market survey is then conducted in 6-8 markets, representative of the livelihood zone, where the poorest households purchase their food from. Price and weight data of all the foods in the market is collected during each season. Market traders are also asked questions about annual trends in prices, seasonality and changes in the demand and supply of commodities. These results are then converted into a price per 100g which is entered into the software.
To create a nutritious diet that takes into consideration typical dietary habits, an interview and focus group discussion is conducted in 4 villages. Each group should consist of 8 participants, 2 from each wealth group, identified by the Household Economy Analysis all of whom should be responsible for preparing food for the household. The interview questionnaire is based upon the food list generated before and during the market survey and aims to determine how often the foods are consumed when they are in season. The questions asked during the focus group discussion are based on early observations from the market data, comments from traders, and responses to the questionnaire. In particular, information is collected on the wild foods consumed, on household production of food, and on cultural taboos, ‘normal’ consumption patterns, and key staples.
It is important to note that the constraints applied are intended to reflect typical dietary patterns rather than reflect economic constraints, because the Cost of the Diet is a tool to illustrate a diet that could be achieved if economic limits were removed.