New Food Metrics Provide Better Information on Access to Nutritious Foods in Africa
A project called Indicators of Affordability of Nutritious Diets in Africa(IANDA) is working to change the way rising food prices are calculated.
Current food price indexes only reflect price changes of staple grains and lack data on nutrient-rich foods that compose a diverse, healthy diet.
Researchers at the Tufts Friedman School of Nutrition, University of Ghana, Sokoine University of Agriculture in Tanzania, and Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health are developing a new set of metrics on the availability and affordability of nutritious, diverse foods. They are working in Ghana and Tanzania to implement these new metrics in 2017.
IANDA aims to develop the necessary tools to measure communities’ access to healthy food and provide more comprehensive information on food security levels throughout the year. By using the new set of metrics, policymakers and program planners will be able to better understand how availability and costs of nutritious diets fluctuate across geographies and seasons. IANDA researchers hope the information will help policymakers in agriculture, nutrition, and health “better diagnose and take action upon the nutrition challenges within the food system,” according to the project’s website.
In Ghana, the IANDA team is working with the Ministry of Food and Agriculture to expand the list of foods for which price information is collected to include commonly-consumed, nutritious food items like leafy greens. The expanded list will allow researchers and policymaking partners to use the new metrics to calculate the cost of a minimally diverse diet, nutritionally adequate diet, and a diet following dietary recommendations.