Food and nutrition security in the rural plains of Nepal: impact of the global food price rise

Research output: ThesisDoctoral Thesis


Background: Poverty and food insecurity are often associated and may lead to malnutrition. All three remain high in Nepal and may have been aggravated by the 2008 food price crisis. Methods to measure changes in food and nutrition security and track the localised impact of changes in global food prices required further development so as to provide better guidance to policy makers. Aim: To describe and compare measures of poverty and food security in Dhanusha District, Nepal, derived from the Household Economy Approach (HEA) and Household Surveillance Data (HSD), and assess changes in food prices and the affordability of a nutritionally adequate diet among different wealth groups in before, during, and after the 2008 food price crisis. Methods: HEA baseline data collected in 2006 was used to describe livelihoods, food insecurity, and food prices in Dhanusha. Principal Component Analysis was used to generate asset indices from HEA and HSD data and examine their correlations. Additional surveys collected food prices in 2008 and 2009, and data on income levels in 2005 and 2008. Inflation in food prices was estimated using Dhanusha food and beverage index, calculated for 2005, 2008 and 2009 (Sep-Oct). Linear programming was used to estimate the minimum cost of a nutritionally adequate diet in 2005 and 2008 (Sep-Oct). Results: HEA and HSD asset indices were weakly associated. HEA data provided detailed descriptions of the livelihoods of the wealth groups, but underestimated food insecurity. Annual inflation in food prices was much higher (18.8%) in 2009 than average inflation between 2005 and 2008 (9.5%). The nutritionally adequate diet was unaffordable to poorer households in both 2005 and 2008. The situation did not deteriorate much due to increasing levels of household income that accompanied the rise in food prices. Conclusions: Application of the HEA method is demanding on skill and such skills may not be readily transferable. Poorer households are vulnerable to increased food insecurity and malnutrition due to continued increases in food prices after 2008.
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • University College London
  • Seal, Andrew, Supervisor, External person
  • Saville, Naomi, Supervisor, External person
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2013
Externally publishedYes


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