Estimating trends in prevalence of undernourishment: advantages of using HCES over the FAO approach in a case study from Cameroon

  • Jean Joël AmbagnaEmail author
  • Sandrine Dury
  • Marie Claude Dop
Original Paper


Global and national food security policies require a good knowledge of trends in prevalence of undernourishment (PoU). Progress towards the Sustainable Development Goals might be difficult to assess if trends in undernourishment are not correctly estimated. However, methods of estimating PoU are still subject to debate. FAO Food Balance Sheets are used to measure food availability and undernourishment at country level. The aim of this paper is to compare trends in PoU using the FAO approach to that using Household Consumption and Expenditure Surveys (HCES). We used FAO Food Balance Sheets and parameters, and two nationwide representative Cameroonian Household Surveys (ECAM), conducted by the National Institute of Statistics (INS) in 2001 and 2007. Our findings, based on ECAM, show that 38% and 24% of the population were undernourished in 2001 and 2007, respectively. FAO estimates were 29% in 2001 and 17% in 2007. Both approaches showed a downward trend in PoU, but ECAM results showed a greater decrease. Using ECAM enabled disaggregation of trends in PoU by area of residence and region. This, in turn, will enable better targeting of vulnerable areas and disadvantaged segments of the population. The North and Far-North regions of the country were facing major food insecurity problems at the time of the surveys.


Undernourishment Heterogeneity FAO HCES 



The authors would like to thank Romain Tchakoute from INS (Cameroon) who provided ECAM data, Nicolas Bricas (CIRAD, Montpellier, France) and Ibrahima Bocoum (University of Laval, Montreal, Canada) for their helpful comments. They also warmly thank the scientific editor and the two referees of Food Security for their relevant comments and repeated exchanges, which helped us to improve the original version significantly.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.


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Copyright information

© International Society for Plant Pathology and Springer Nature B.V. 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jean Joël Ambagna
    • 1
    • 2
    • 3
    Email author
  • Sandrine Dury
    • 2
    • 3
  • Marie Claude Dop
    • 4
  1. 1.Ministry of EconomyPlanning and Regional DevelopmentYaoundéCameroon
  2. 2.UMR MOISACIRADMontpellierFrance
  3. 3.MOISA, CIHEAM-IAMM, CIRAD, INRA, Montpellier SupAgroUniversity of MontpellierMontpellierFrance
  4. 4.Independent consultantCastelnau Le LezFrance

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