The Famine Early Warning Systems Network Supports Wider Analysis of Food Security Data
Predicting potential instances of acute food insecurity gives governments and humanitarian aid organizations time to prepare appropriate responses and avert widespread crises. But making such projections takes a forward-thinking approach and requires exhaustive analysis of current and historical data from a variety of sources. To facilitate wider analysis of food insecurity dynamics, the Famine Early Warning Systems Network (FEWS NET) has expanded the availability of its Integrated Food Security Phase Classification (IPC)-compatible data on both country and regional levels, spanning from 2009 to present.
“Making country-level shapefiles available is important because it puts the data that analysts need directly into their hands, using file formats that are compatible with analytical software and representing the data in units of analysis that are meaningful for their work,” FEWS NET team leader Kiersten Johnson explained. “We hope that streamlining access to these data will help people to ask and answer key research questions so we as a community can continue to expand our understanding of the dynamics that lead to different food security-related outcomes.”
Before 2020, FEWS NET’s food security shapefiles and maps were created manually, a time-consuming process that rarely allowed for the publication of country-level data. But recently, with the successful implementation of shapefile automation processes, FEWS NET has expanded its offerings tenfold, significantly enhancing the number and distribution of available country shapefiles and nodes.
FEWS NET analysts use a scenario development process to make projections regarding future food security developments, using IPC terminology and a five-phase scale based on common standards. To promote greater user accessibility to its data, the FEWS NET team has ensured its newly available datasets are geographically comprehensive and IPC version 3.0-compatible.
“These IPC-compatible data allow users to easily align with recognized IPC standards. This helps analysts interpret and communicate their results using widely-understood concepts and a common language, facilitating engagement with the broader humanitarian community,” Johnson said.
The FEWS NET Data Center is accessible to the public, with several file types available for download, depending on user goals. Shapefiles provide country- and region-specific spatial data, reflective of administrative boundaries, in downloadable .zip files. Users who have access to QGIS and Esri software can use shapefiles to manipulate and interact with maps to conduct independent analyses. Google Earth users may download .kml/.kmz files to perform similar tasks, and static image .png files with country- and region-specific maps are also available for download.
To access the IPC-compatible food security data, visit the FEWS NET Data Center, scroll down the page and select a region and/or country, along with an associated date range, from the dropdown menu. Click “Filter” and you will see a package of files available for download, including a .zip with shapefiles and .png maps.
The FEWS NET team hopes this newly available data will allow current and future users to conduct deeper analyses and more detailed visualizations on food insecurity and early warning across the globe. Follow @FEWSNET on Twitter and Facebook to stay informed on new features available on the FEWS NET website.