PLoS One. 2023 Jan 5;18(1):e0279414. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0279414. eCollection 2023.
OBJECTIVE: Food security is an important policy issue in India. As India recently ranked 107th out of 121 countries in the 2022 Global Hunger Index, there is an urgent need to dissect, and gain insights into, such a major decline at the national level. However, the existing surveys, due to small sample sizes, cannot be used directly to produce reliable estimates at local administrative levels such as districts.
DESIGN: The latest round of available data from the Household Consumer Expenditure Survey (HCES 2011-12) done by the National Sample Survey Office of India used stratified multi-stage random sampling with districts as strata, villages as first stage and households as second stage units.
SETTING: Our Small Area Estimation approach estimated food insecurity prevalence, gap, and severity of each rural district of the Eastern Indo-Gangetic Plain (EIGP) region by modeling the HCES data, guided by local covariates from the 2011 Indian Population Census.
PARTICIPANTS: In HCES, 5915 (34429), 3310 (17534) and 3566 (15223) households (persons) were surveyed from the 71, 38 and 18 districts of the EIGP states of Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and West Bengal respectively.
RESULTS: We estimated the district-specific food insecurity indicators, and mapped their local disparities over the EIGP region. By comparing food insecurity with indicators of climate vulnerability, poverty and crop diversity, we shortlisted the vulnerable districts in EIGP.
CONCLUSIONS: Our district-level estimates and maps can be effective for informed policy-making to build local resiliency and address systemic vulnerabilities where they matter most in the post-pandemic era.
ADVANCES: Our study computed, for the Indian states in the EIGP region, the first area-level small area estimates of food insecurity as well as poverty over the past decade, and generated a ranked list of districts upon combining these data with measures of crop diversity and climatic vulnerability.