Project managers in charge of implementing activities that address food security problems need tools to (1) identify the populations that are food insecure, (2) design interventions that address the causes of food insecurity, and (3) evaluate the impact of their interventions on the food security status of project beneficiaries. This guide illustrates how Rapid Appraisal (RA) methods can provide useful insights to the research and design of food security interventions, as well as their limitations. The degree of precision required, the characteristics of the population being investigated, the ability of fieldworkers, all of these and other aspects determine whether RA methods are appropriate in any given case.
The first section of this paper presents general considerations on the advantages and disadvantages of RA methods over survey-based methods. The second section presents a set of RA tools that were tested in the field to fulfill the objectives stated above. The tools developed include community mapping, household food security ranking, conceptual mapping of food sources, seasonal food security time lines, and evaluation of intervention’s impact on food security. Each instrument is presented in a similar sequence: first, a brief introduction presents the instrument and its relevance to the study of food security; second, the tool is described in terms of its specific objectives, format, methods, and products expected. Third, examples from fieldwork experimentation are provided to illustrate its use. Additional information and key references on the procedure are added in appendixes to the manual.