Assessing food security during natural disasters. RUSL researchers validate a new tool.

Food is a basic need of humans. In disaster management and mitigation, food security assessment provides most basic information on resource allocations. Public health emergency response teams needs culturally adapted tools in disaster response.

While struggling to improve the nutritional indicators, the focus household food insecurity (HFI) was inadequate in relation to health. Of the different methods of measuring HFI, experience-based methods are reported to be valid allowing comparability between regions. Experience based HFI scales captures the worry and fear of run out of food and also the manifestation of hunger in individuals.

The Rajarata Pregnancy Cohort team in the department of Community Medicine in collaboration with the Yale School of Public Health has culturally adapted and validated the Latin American and Carrabin Experience based Food Insecurity Assessment Scale (adult) (Escala Latinoamericana y Caribena de Seguridad Alimentaria (ELCSA) to Sinhala and Tamil to be used among pregnant women in Sri Lanka. Both cognitive and psychometric procedures were adopted in validation (paper submitted to CCPSL sessions 2020). The Cronbach’s alpha for internal consistency was 0.79 showing a high internal consistency. The Rasch analysis also showed a good model fit ranging from within 0.82-1.13.

The validation was done just before the covid-19 pandemic. Though the validation was done for pregnant women, the tool is not pregnancy specific and could be used for all household assessment studies.

The tool was converted to a self-reported version from the original interviewer administered version which will facilitate the data collection process specially during the natural disasters such as covid-19, where the face to face interviews are not recommended. The tool possesses high reliability and validity and could be easily applied to assess HFI among adults in households. The eight-item Sri Lankan HFI scale would serve a valuable purpose in feasible and quick assessment of HFI, especially in situations such as COVID 19. The tool is available for all Sri Lankan researchers involved in health and nutrition assessments in Covid-19 or any disaster situation.

Contact if you require further informations or the ELCSA-Sri Lanka tool for your research/ service purposes.

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Department of Community Medicine