Integrated Phase Classification

IPC 2.0: A common starting point for decision-making

 

The use of Integrated Phase Classification Version 2.0 (IPC 2.0) is a landmark in the fight against food insecurity.
 
Widely accepted by the international community, IPC 2.0 describes the severity of food emergencies. Based on common standards and language, this five-level scale is intended to help governments and other humanitarian actors quickly understand a crisis (or potential crisis) and take action.
 
Along with the scale, IPC 2.0 provides a framework for technical consensus, protocols for classification, tools for communication, and methods of quality assurance. In practice, researchers use various methods of data collection and analysis, but they describe their conclusions using the same, consistent language and standards. This harmonized approach is particularly useful in comparing situations across countries and regions, and over time.
 
Launched in September 2012, IPC 2.0 was devised by a global partnership of governmental and nongovernmental agencies. Its implementation is managed by a secretariat in Rome.

 

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FEWS NET actively contributed to the design and implementation of IPC 2.0.

IPC Scale

The IPC classifies food security using two scales: a household scale and an area scale.  The household scale classifies groups of households based on a convergence of available information, including data on food security outcomes (e.g., household food consumption) and contributing factors (e.g., price levels, crop production) and provides an estimate the size of the food insecure population. The area classification is based on a convergence of three inputs – the highest severity of food insecurity faced by at least 20% of the area’s population, the prevalence of acute malnutrition, and the death rate.

Each of the scales has five phases. Each phase includes a set of illustrative indicator thresholds, which specifically and formally define the phase. The essence of each is captured in the phase descriptions, presented in the tables below.

IPC Acute Food Insecurity Phase Descriptions (Household)

PHASE 1
Minimal

HH group is able to meet essential food and non-food needs without engaging in atypical, unsustainable strategies to access food and income.

PHASE 2
Stressed

Even with any humanitarian assistance:
· HH group has minimally adequate food consumption but is unable to afford some essential nonfood expenditures without engaging in irreversible coping strategies

PHASE 3
Crisis

Even with any humanitarian assistance:
· HH group has food consumption gaps with high or above usual acute malnutrition;
OR
· HH group is marginally able to meet minimum food needs only with accelerated depletion of livelihood assets that will lead to food consumption gaps.

PHASE 4
Emergency

Even with any humanitarian assistance:
· HH group has large food consumption gaps resulting in very high acute malnutrition and excess mortality;
OR
· HH group has extreme loss of livelihood assets that will lead to large food consumption gaps in the short term.

PHASE 5
Catastrophe

Even with any humanitarian assistance:
· HH group has an extreme lack of food and/or other basic needs even with full employment of coping strategies. Starvation, death, and destitution are evident.

 

IPC Acute Food Insecurity Phase Descriptions (Area)

PHASE 1
Minimal

More than four in five households (HHs) are able to meet essential food and nonfood needs without engaging in atypical, unsustainable strategies to access food and income.

PHASE 2
Stressed

Even with any humanitarian assistance at least one in five HHs in the area have the following or worse: Minimally adequate food consumption but are unable to afford some essential non food expenditures without engaging in irreversible coping strategies.

PHASE 3
Crisis

Even with any humanitarian assistance at least one in five HHs in the area have the following or worse: 
· Food consumption gaps with high or above usual acute malnutrition
OR
· Are marginally able to meet minimum food needs only with accelerated depletion of livelihood assets that will lead to food consumption gaps.

PHASE 4
Emergency

Even with any humanitarian assistance at least one in five HHs in the area have the following or worse:
· Large food consumption gaps resulting in very high acute malnutrition and excess mortality
OR
· Extreme loss of livelihood assets that will lead to food consumption gaps in the short term.

PHASE 5
Famine

Even with any humanitarian assistance at least one in five HHs in the area have an extreme lack of food and other basic needs where starvation, death, and destitution are evident. (Evidence for all three criteria of food consumption, wasting, and CDR is required to classify Famine.)

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Phase classification would likely be worse without current or programmed humanitarian assistance.

A guide to FEWS NET's maps

FEWS NET's food security maps incorporate the IPC 2.0 scale, along with two other aspects specific to FEWS NET monitoring: an exclamation point icon related to humanitarian assistance and a colored border for countries that FEWS NET monitors remotely.

Estimated food security conditions, July to September 2013
East Africa estimated food security conditions, example IPC map

FEWS NET and the IPC


As part of the piloting of IPC 2.0, FEWS NET adopted key elements in 2011, including the scale, mapping protocols, and Household-based Acute Food Insecurity Reference Table. However, FEWS NET is considered “IPC-compatible” rather than “IPC-compliant” because it does not use all elements of IPC. 
 
The difference in approach relates to the IPC requirement that stakeholders in a given country conduct intensive technical reviews, peer reviews, and consensus exercises as a step in the process. In all countries, the success of FEWS NET's work depends on close collaboration with partners and technical experts. At times, however, it is necessary to conduct analysis with a speed and flexibility that is not possible when many actors share decision-making.
 
Prior to IPC 2.0, FEWS NET used its own scale, the FEWS NET Food Insecurity Severity Scale.

What about chronic food insecurity?


While FEWS NET's monitoring and analysis centers on acute food insecurity, we are working in partnership with the agencies that developed IPC 2.0 on a chronic food insecurity scale. Along with the participation of our experts in IPC's Global Working Group on Classifying Chronic Food Insecurity, FEWS NET is piloting assessment tools in a handful of countries.
 
Learn more about the IPC at www.ipcinfo.org.

About FEWS NET

The Famine Early Warning Systems Network is a leading provider of early warning and analysis on food insecurity. Created by USAID in 1985 to help decision-makers plan for humanitarian crises, FEWS NET provides evidence-based analysis on some 35 countries. Implementing team members include NASA, NOAA, USDA, and USGS, along with Chemonics International Inc. and Kimetrica. Read more about our work.