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The objectives of this two-day workshop are to (1) introduce key local partners and food security experts to
VAM, (2) describe the vulnerability analysis framework upon which VAM bases its work, (3) to capture
“received wisdom” on socioeconomic conditions in WFP countries to complement VAM secondary data and
field assessment activities, and (4) to obtain feedback on secondary data analysis and “conceptual mapping”

It is expected that this activity will identify potential partners for closer collaboration within the local food
security community and define the basic set of parameters for the development of further analytical efforts,
including providing information for a sampling methodology for eventual Food Insecurity and Vulnerability
Profile field assessments.

It is NOT expected that participants will provide definitive information on food insecurity and vulnerability
conditions at a degree of rigor sufficient to base policy and programming decisions. As indicated by
numerous studies, particularly Reardon and Matlon (1988), local experts often have a biased perspective of
levels of vulnerability which is strongly influenced by agricultural conditions. The point of this workshop
approach is to obtain information from informants that is easily “knowable” but that does not require them to
draw conclusions regarding relative levels of vulnerability.


Participation should be very limited to representatives from key WFP partners and knowledgeable local
experts on food security and related subjects in WFP countries. To ensure fruitful interactions, no more than
10-12 well-qualified participants should be included in these discussions.


See forthcoming PowerPoint presentation.


Preparation: need 15 pieces of construction paper (5 different colors) cut into large circles and then cut
further into 8 pie pieces each. Have markers available for participants to write on the construction paper.
Ask participants to break up into 2-3 small groups.

(A) Group Exercise 1:
    (1) Discuss how people in rural areas get their food. Possible prompts include:
        (a) Grow it
        (b) Buy it
        (c) Collect it
        (d) Receive as gift
        (e) Take loan
        (f) Food aid
        (g) Ration shop

    (2) Have small groups think of a village for which they are somewhat familiar. Ask them to use pie
        pieces to represent what proportion of food comes from each of the above-mentioned sources.
        They should report out on the approximate share from each source.

    (3) Ask about any problems or sources or risk associated with each of these consumption sources.
        Possible prompts include:
        (a) Grow it: Crop failure
         (b)   Buy it: Price increases, lack of market access
         (c)   Collect it: Deforestation
         (d)   Receive as gift: Poverty in the community, caste, etc.
         (e)   Take loan: Lack of collateral, caste, debt trap
         (f)   Food aid: Infrequent supplies, inadequate
         (g)   Ration shop: Infrequent supplies, no credit available, change in government policy

    (4) Talk about a scenario of crop failure and another scenario of large market price index.

    (5) Discuss how do people “cope” when one of these problems arise?

(B) Group Exercise 2:
    (1) Discuss how people in the same village get their incomes. List these on a flip chart. Try to get
        participants to distinguish between sources of income from men and sources of income for women
        and also migrant wage labor and non-migrant wage labor, and also agricultural and non-agricultural
        wage labor (these distinctions will be very important in the field work).

    (2) Have small groups develop an “income pie” that describes the relative importance of various
        income sources in their village. They should report out on the approximate share from each

    (3) Ask participants what are sources of risk to each of these incomes and how frequently and severely
        do these risks/hazards occur in their village. Possible prompts might be:
             (a) Drought
             (b) Decline in demand for mining products
             (c) Currency devaluation which influences price and production of cash crops
             (d) Other

    (4) Ask participants what happens when you take away all rainfall-dependent sources of income, for
        example (i.e. crops and livestock). How do people cope? Can they make up completely for the
        loss of that income?

    (5) Ask participants to discuss the reasons why some people can cope better than others?


The primary objective of this session is to obtain a preliminary description of “relatively homogeneous
district clusters”. This activity is Important because the criteria used to distinguish one set of districts from
another may provide clues regarding the nature of vulnerability in the country. The district clusters defined
in this activity also provides a sample frame for any subsequent VAM field work. Finally, the clustered
developed in this activity are to be compared to clusters based on secondary data produced as part of the
Vulnerability Issues Paper analysis. This last feedback element is another important objective of the
workshop, as a means of reconciling “received wisdom” with existing data and VAM-oriented analysis.

In the workshop, homogeneous district clusters should be defined according to whether they share roughly
similar characteristics according to:

       Environmental features (elevation, soils, erosion, rainfall levels, etc.)
       Natural or man-made hazards (drought, floods, landslides, crop disease/pests, livestock disease,
        market instability, social conflict, etc.)
       Social characteristics (ethnicity, caste, role of women, role of children, social organization, land
        tenure, etc.)
       Access to infrastructure (roads, markets, sanitation, water, irrigation, etc.)
       Access to services (formal credit, health, agricultural extension, social welfare, etc.)
       Economic organization (land use patterns, cropping patterns, sources of income and/or
        livelihoods, sources of food)
       Health patterns
Although there will exist significant differences in conditions both within and across districts, WFP feels that,
defining relatively homogeneous district clusters is still useful for the purposes stated above. In fact, any
reduction in the degree of heterogeneity in sample units reduces concerns about small sample size of field
assessments using PRA methods.

Note, direct questions regarding vulnerability within districts are not asked in the course of these
discussions, simply how districts are similar or different. The objective, again, is primarily to identify
relatively homogeneous regions for the purposes of (a) identifying criteria that might define different levels of
vulnerability, and (b) define a sample frame for subsequent VAM field assessment efforts.

The current methodology is simply to facilitate discussion in a systematic fashion, with a map of the country
on the wall as a discussion tool. Flip charts and pin boards are also useful as a means to capture the main
points of the discussion.

Participants should be asked simply how they would make a first cut at dividing the country into two or more
“relatively homogeneous” regions. On what criteria would this division be made? Why? Which districts
would fall into each sub-region? Once the initial division of the country has been made, participants should
select on of the new sub-regions for further sub-division based on a new, or more refined set of criteria.
While there is no standard rule of thumb on when to stop this process of sub-division, participants should be
made aware of the trade-offs between a “manageable” set of district clusters and “perfect” homogeneity.

Note that, for the most part, it is more convenient to stick with district boundaries in defining clusters;
however, to the extent there are significant differences within districts, it may be necessary to cut some
districts up in rough fashion and treat them as separate units.

Once the map has been sub-divided into clusters, review the results of the activity with participants. Ask
participants if, given this final definition of clusters, if there is any way to re-combine areas into a smaller set
of clusters without substantially losing the sense of homogeneity within clusters.

In facilitating the discussion of cluster definitions, it is often helpful to define “similarity criteria” as those
characteristics that districts share in common and “difference criteria” as those characteristics that separate
one set of districts from another. Initially, discussions should focus, as much as possible, on “difference
criteria” for successive cuts of the map. Discussion of “similarity criteria” assists in developing an
understanding of conditions within clusters. Again, these similarity and difference criteria should be
captured in detail to provide a preliminary idea about levels of food insecurity and vulnerability.

Criteria used to distinguish one district cluster from another are expected to be highly informative regarding
the relative vulnerability.


Although livelihood systems are an important dimension used in defining district clusters, it is important to
revisit the subject explicitly to obtain a detailed typology of livelihood systems either within or across district
clusters. Again, since much of the relevant information should have already been captured in previous
discussions, this session should just work to develop a consensus on this dimension of the results.


Once the final set of district clusters and livelihood systems has been identified, ask participants to define,
for each cluster, what types of households are likely to be most food insecure and vulnerable. List the
definitions of vulnerable groups on note cards and organize by district cluster. Discuss major similarities and
differences in the types of households considered most vulnerable across different parts of the country.


VAM is in the process of developing methods for the creation of district clusters on the basis of selectively
chosen secondary data indicators. This clustering activity should be undertaken prior to the National
Workshop, as part of the Vulnerability Issues Paper exercise. Compare the Key Informant Workshop
Clusters with those produced on the basis of secondary data indicators. Ask participants to comment on
differences and similarities. To what extent does the secondary data analysis indicate different clusters than
those produced in the workshop? To what extent do participants feel the clusters they defined should be
altered according to the secondary data analysis? To the extent the clusters are substantially different, what
are the possible implications for VAM analysis?


Provide participants with an opportunity to discuss whether they feel the district clusters defined during the
workshop made sense and whether the overall levels of homogeneity within each cluster is expected to be
relatively high or low.


Summarize the major discussion points (areas of strong agreement and disagreement and areas where the
participants felt their knowledge was insufficient to draw adequate conclusions. Draw up the final district
clustering map and the list of vulnerable groups and report back to participants in a timely fashion.