A team of researchers from the International Center for Biosaline Agriculture (ICBA) and the University of Wollongong in Dubai have developed a novel analytical framework for estimating the food security indicators in the UAE.
In a paper published in Environment, Development and Sustainability, they present a new method that addresses the shortcomings of previous approaches such as the ones developed by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) and the Global Food Security Index and covers all aspects of food security.
“There have been previous efforts to develop frameworks to estimate food security indicators,” said Dr. Khalil Ammar, a principal scientist at ICBA. “But these have some drawbacks and do not take into account all dimensions of food security.”
The researchers developed their framework around the four dimensions of food security: access, availability, stability, and utilization. “We reviewed articles and international reports on food security and nutrition indicators, drivers and policies, methods, and models and extracted the challenges and gaps from the UAE and global contexts,” said Dr. Khalil Ammar.
To develop the framework, the researchers investigated the status, key challenges, and potential solutions to food security in the UAE and worldwide by critically examining the four dimensions of food security.
The framework allows analysts to derive key indicators that can contribute to food security and nutrition. Using the existing data in the UAE and with the aid of methods and models, analysts using the framework can also identify the yield gap of the strategic crops at the present time or even under future climate change, helping estimate new and more meaningful indicators for food security and nutrition in the UAE.
What is more, the framework could be used to predict future scenarios of yield gap and water use under variable conditions such as climate change, wars, political instability, embargo, and groundwater depletion.
The framework is relevant not only to the UAE and the Middle East and North Africa, but also globally. It can pave the way for ensuring poverty reduction, food security, and nutrition around the world as it outperforms previous approaches. “Our work will continue, however, as we will now need to find ways to apply the framework to real-time data, databases, methods, and models,” concluded Dr. Khalil Ammar.