Measuring food security across
cultures: a validation study in
shrimp farming households in
Sri Lanka
Jessica Wu, S. Checkley, R. Silva*, T. Westers, C. Ribble, T. Fung,
S. Daniel, & C. Stephen
University of Calgary
*Wayamba University of Sri Lanka
 Background information
 Project
 Sri Lanka
 Food security
 Objectives
 Methods
Shrimp ponds
 Results
 Challenges
 Conclusions
Traveling to shrimp farms
Why Sri Lanka?
Why Sri Lanka?
 Multi-project collaboration over the past 10 years
 Concerns identified by the Government of Sri Lanka
 Veterinary surveillance
 Wildlife
 Aquaculture development for food security and
poverty alleviation
 Partners with Wayamba University of Sri Lanka
 Aquaculture in Sri Lanka is considered
an important livelihood that supports
income diversification
 Why shrimp farming?
 Opening of the Eastern and Northern
 Is there a possibility of income
generation for people who have resettled after the war?
 What is the food security status of shrimp farming
 How should we measure food security?
Shrimp in a feeding tray
Selling shrimp in the local market
What is food security?
 Food security is defined as
“a situation that exists when all people, at all times,
have physical, social and economic access to
sufficient, safe and nutritious food that meets their
dietary needs and food preferences for an active and
healthy life” (World Food Summit, 1996)
A typical Sri Lankan meal
Pillars of Food
(FAO 2008 An Introduction to the Basic
Concepts of Food Security)
 Cross-sectional study of 225 shrimp farming households in Sri
 Structured surveys included the Household Food Insecurity
Access Scale (HFIAS) (Coates et al. 2007)
 9 yes/no questions followed by timeframe question if answered
 Forward translation into Sinhala and Tamil
 Back translation into English followed by revisions if required
Local seafood market
 Validation of the HFIAS
 Cultural acceptability through expert panel consultation
 Food security experts from both countries
 Academic experts familiar with the target population
 Government worker familiar with target population
 Feasibility
 Pilot study
 Construct validity
 Factor analysis of dichotomous outcomes
 Internal reliability
 Cronbach’s alpha
 Accuracy in relating to other food security measures
(correlation to socioeconomic status)
 The HFIAS showed high cultural
 Has been used in unpublished studies in
Sri Lanka
 Feasibility indicated no logistic or
comprehension challenges
 Factor analysis
 One factor extracted with factor loadings
0.94 or greater
 Cronbach's alpha was high (0.934)
 Association between food insecurity
scores and socioeconomic status was
significant (p = 0.032)
 The majority of shrimp farming households in Sri Lanka
are food secure
Typical market place
Food Security Status of Shrimp
Farming Households
Food secure
Mild food insecurity
Moderate food
Severely food
*National average in Sri Lanka in 2009 (not
incl NP and EP): 80% of households food
secure (using expenditure data)
 Translation
 Two languages = twice the
number of translators
 Not all translators can type in
Sinhala and Tamil
 Part of a larger survey
 Only one construct derived
from factor analysis
 Small sample size
 The HFIAS, adapted to the Sri Lankan context, is
promising as a valid measure of the access pillar of
food security in this country
 The majority of shrimp farming households are food
 First documented use of the HFIAS in the aquaculture
sector in Sri Lanka and can be a useful tool for future
food security assessments in this country
 Participating shrimp farmers in Sri Lanka
 Funding from the International Development Research
Centre (IDRC) and the Government of Canada, provided
through the Canadian International Development Agency
Supervisor Dr. Sylvia Checkley
Fellow graduate student Dr. Trisha Westers
Committee members:
 Dr. Carl Ribble, Dr. David Hall, Dr. Craig Stephen
Sri Lankan partners:
 Dr. Sam Daniel
 Dr. Renuka Silva
Trisha and Sam
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