and N Africa
FIGURE 8.2 Percent of children under five years who are stunted in 2011 by region (source:
modeled data from childinfo.org, derived from United Nations Children's Fund,
World Health Organization, World Bank, UNICEF-WHO-World Bank Joint Child
Malnutrition Estimates, 2011 revision (completed July 2012)).
CEE is Central and Eastern Europe, and CIS is Commonwealth of Independent States (former USSR).
Food access and nutrition outcomes
How can we measure food insecurity? There are two comprehensive approaches to measur-
ing food insecurity. One approach involves measurement of the anthropometrics of repre-
sentative samples of the population (e.g., Demographic and Health Surveys). The other
involves measurements of aggregate household (and/or) individual consumption (per capita)
of representative samples (e.g., the World Bank's Living Standard Measurement Surveys).
However, both these methods require resources and time and, as a result, these surveys are
rarely conducted more than a few times in a decade for a given country. A central limitation
of using anthropometry in assessing child nutritional status is its lack of specificity, as changes
in body measurements are sensitive to many factors including intake of essential nutrients,
infection, altitude, stress and genetic background.
Although critical for long-term assessments, these surveys are too slow a process to be used
to identify local increases in food insecurity. Consequently, while surveys are essential to
understanding both the mechanisms behind changes in food insecurity and the attendant
long-term negative impacts on health and household assets, there is a compelling need for
more integrated analysis of the causes and consequences of food security crises (Barrett,
By using remote sensing observations to measure changes in the environment, we can
focus on understanding the impact of large-scale changes on nutrition outcomes. Although
food security assessments such as food access and food availability are important, it is informa-
tive to see the direct impact of observable environmental change on nutrition outcomes. If
the odds of malnutrition increase with drought, for example, this will have a broad impact on
a wide set of nutrition indicators as well as on economic activity. How we can measure those
indicators both remotely and locally is a critical question.