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.
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.
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.
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.