Food secutiry and livelihoods in the small urban centers of mongolia

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Findings from the Aimag Center Food Security Assessment Final Report - March 2008

Mercy Corps Mongolia - Aimag Center Food Security Assessment

Findings from the Aimag Center Food Security Assessment

Final Report

Chris Hillbruner Food SecurityConsultant
Meaghan Murphy Mickey Leland International Hunger Fellow

24 Peace Avenue, Bayanzurkh District Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia Phone: 976-1146-0967 March 2008


Mercy Corps Mongolia - Aimag Center Food Security Assessment

Executive Summary
Often, both food insecurity and food security programming are concentrated in rural areas where a large portion of thepopulation is engaged in crop-based, subsistence agriculture. In Mongolia however, rural households are largely food secure. Livestock based agriculture provides rural households with large quantities of meat and dairy products and informal safety nets are strong. Instead, food insecurity is considered most serious in urban areas where a large and growing proportion of the Mongolian population lives.However, specific information on food security at the household level, including information on characteristics and determinants of food insecurity, is largely unavailable. While future Mercy Corps programming in Mongolia may explicitly address food security, research into this area is also crucial given the linkages between food insecurity and issues like school enrollment, that affect thelong-term success of economic development initiatives. Therefore, an Aimag Center Food Security Assessment was developed to address knowledge gaps related to urban food security and to inform both current and future programming. The assessment collected data through a qualitative food business survey focused on food availability at the local market level and a quantitative household survey thatcaptured information on household-level dimensions of food security and its determinants. Data collection occurred from late October through early December 2007 and included 663 households and 73 businesses in 4 purposively selected aimag centers across Mongolia. The results of this assessment provide, for the first time, clear empirical evidence of food insecurity among aimag center residents inMongolia. While not statistically representative of Mongolia as a whole, it is likely that the findings from Baruun-Urt, Arvaiheer, Ulaangom and Khovd reflect the situation in the country's other aimag centers. The most pressing issues relate to the access dimension of food security. Based on the Household Food Insecurity Access Scale, one third of households in the survey population were found to befood insecure (one quarter moderately or severely). Data from the Household Dietary Diversity Score indicator, another measure of access, found that 11% of households reported eating four or fewer types of food in the past 24 hours.1 In addition, information collected on seasonal patterns of food security suggests that the situation worsens considerably during the spring months when both food andemployment are scarce. Issues related to food availability, utilization and sustainability also contribute to food insecurity at the aimag center level. Regarding availability, a range of basic food items appears to be generally available, year round, in aimag center markets. However, there are important seasonal fluctuations in the availability of specific food products (e.g. meat, produce anddairy) that have significant effects on the quantity, quality and cost of food available to aimag center residents. Contributing to these fluctuations is a lack of local production and inefficient food markets. High quality data on nutritional status was only collected in the western region aimags, thus constraining our ability to explore the utilization dimension of food security. Despite this...
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