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How We Make Projections

How We Make Projections

Food security early warning requires projections of future food security outcomes to be made many months in advance, so that decision makers have adequate time to plan for and respond to potential humanitarian crises. However, the complex web of factors that affect food security makes it impossible to definitively predict future outcomes. Scenario development is a methodology that allows FEWS NET to reconcile these two issues by developing a “most likely” scenario of the future. FEWS NET uses a scenario development process to fulfill its primary mandate to provide early warning on food security crises to decision makers.

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Africa livestock goats
What is Scenario Development?

Commonly used by planners, policy-makers, and researchers of various disciplines, scenario development is a methodology for forecasting future events. It relies on analysis of the current situation, the creation of informed assumptions about the future, a comparison of their possible effects, and the likely responses of various actors. At its core, scenario development is an “if-then” statement, but one that gains rigor through analysis.

Read the scenario development fact sheet

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FEWS NET and Scenario Development

Every four months, FEWS NET analysts use the scenario development process to estimate food security outcomes for the coming eight months. Using a consistent eight-step process, analysts assess the current food security situation in areas of concern, make assumptions about the future, and consider how those assumptions might affect food and income sources for poor households. Based on the convergence of evidence, analysts then determine the most likely scenario and classify the expected levels of food insecurity using the Integrated Food Security Phase Classification (IPC). These analysts then identify major events with a credible chance of occurring that could change the outcome.

How FEWS NET estimates the Population in Need

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Woman carries a bag of USAID food on her head
Why Use This Methodology?

Scenario development builds structure and logic into the analytic process. It reduces overreliance on expert judgment or too-simple projections of what could happen. The methodology works particularly well in estimating food security outcomes because of our regular data and information collection. Each month, as new data and information become available, our analysts are able to improve their assumptions. When assumptions are strong, uncertainty decreases, and the likelihood of the scenario increases.

Video: How FEWS NET Makes Projections
FEWS NET Scenario Development Steps FEWS NET Scenario Development Steps
Step 1: Set scenario parameters

Step 2: Describe and classify current food security

Step 3: Develop key assumptions

Step 4: Describe impacts on household income sources

Step 5: Describe impacts on household food sources

Step 6: Describe and classify projected household food security

Step 7: Describe and classify projected area food security

Step 8: Identify events that could change the scenario

FEWS NET Reporting Cycle

FEWS NET's Food Security Outlook reports are issued in February, June, and October. In other months, developments and changes to the scenario are reported in FEWS NET's Food Security Outlook Updates and Key Messages.

FEWS NET reporting cycle
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The information provided on this Website is not official U.S. Government information and does not represent the views or positions of the U.S. Agency for International Development or the U.S. Government.

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