Over the last 12 months the food security robustness of the 15 countries covered by the RBI declined by an average of -1.9% from 2015-2016. This is in stark contrast to the improvement observed over the last two annual reports—average scores improved by 2.7% and 3.3% from 2014-2015 and 2013-2014 respectively.
As a result of this broad-based decline in scores, the threshold value also declined by -1.4% for 2016
- The “sub-threshold” countries remain unchanged since 2015: Indonesia, Philippines, India, Bangladesh, Myanmar, and Pakistan
Among the four rubrics, Policy & Trade saw the largest drop in performance, while Demand & Price saw the largest increase
- Policy & Trade declined by an average of -4.9% across the 15 countries, while Demand & Price improved by 2.5%. Environmental and Farm-Level Factors were also in the red, declining by -2.5% and -3.0% respectively
Pakistan experienced the largest decline in its RBI score, while Taiwan saw the largest improvement
- Pakistan saw a deterioration of its score in all four rubrics, with the most pronounced drop occurring in Policy & Trade—a decline of over 30%, driven largely by downgrades in its various ecosystem vitality measurements. Taiwan’s improvement was a result of strong performance in both Policy & Trade and Environmental Factors
Lower fuel and commodity prices continue to exert a positive influence on food security systems
- Prices of oil and other commodities have remained relatively flat since 2015, helping to moderate inflation and in turn boosting the Demand & Price rubric
A challenge in creating any index is to be able to provide meaningful support for performance comparisons. Threshold analysis provides this opportunity as it does not imply one country is doing better or worse than another, but rather it provides an aspirational point to aim for in order to become more robust in terms of food security.
In establishing thresholds, the RBI has defined the ‘desired’ threshold as one standard deviation below the average performance of the top quartile. This is relevant because top quartile performance exhibits considerable stability over time and which, the Board considers as essential for genuine robustness in a country’s food system.
A standard deviation is a statistical value used to determine how spread out the data in a sample are, and how close individual data points are to the mean — or average — value of the sample. A standard deviation of a data set equal to zero indicates that all values in the set are the same. A larger value implies that the individual data points are farther from the mean value.
The figure below presents the composite (across the four rubrics) RBI results for all countries in 2016. The depiction clearly shows relative country performance and the point at which the threshold of system robustness is crossed. It is also useful to conduct threshold analysis for the individual RBI rubrics because aggregating results can mask possible weakness within rubrics.
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- Top Quartile: These countries have the most robust food security systems, and there tends to be very little variation in their aggregate RBI scores.
- 3rd & 2nd Quartiles: These countries tend to exhibit greater variation but with a discernible upward trend.
- Bottom Quartile: These countries show little variation over time, pointing to the challenge of breaking the food insecurity paradigm.
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