|Guidelines for Estimating Food and Nutritional Needs in Emergencies (United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) / Alto Comisionado de Naciones Unidas para los Refugiados (ACNUR), 1997, 10 p.)|
17. The initial reference value of 2,100 kilocalories is applicable in the early stage of an emergency when no other food is available and when only the number of affected persons is known. When demographic information has been collected and the degree of access of the population to food from other sources is known, the initial reference value of 2,100 kilocalories must be adjusted to reflect the actual energy, protein and micronutrient requirements to be met through external food aid.
18. The calculation of the real food and nutritional needs of a population is extremely important and should be made by staff experienced in nutrition as soon as possible after the emergency occurs taking into account the different factors that influence the average daily nutritional needs.
FACTORS TO TAKE INTO CONSIDERATION WHEN ESTABLISHING RATION LEVELS
Demographic characteristics (age and gender composition)
19. The composition of the beneficiary population will affect the nutritional requirements. For example a population composed exclusively of women and children will require about 6 percent less energy than a standard population under consideration (in a country).
20. The PAL values for different levels of activity are given in the FAO/WHO/UNU report published in 1985. The current ration level of 2,100 kilocalories is based on a light PAL of 1.55 x BMR for men and 1.56 x BMR for women. This level will maintain the health and nutritional status of an individual engaged in light work. An increase in ration should be considered when the workload exceeds the light level. In this connection, attention should be paid to workloads by gender (see Annex II).
21. It is current convention to take the average temperature of 20°C as a base temperature and to add an allowance of 100 kilocalories for every five degrees below 20°C (see Annex II).
Health, nutritional and physiological status
22. The affected population may have suffered considerable nutritional stress and severe prolonged food shortage before assistance was provided. Other risk factors include micronutrient deficiencies prevalent in the place of origin, or a widespread epidemic threatening the population. These risk factors may call for a revision of the ration level. When there is widespread illness and/or when malnutrition and crude mortality rates are high, supplementary and therapeutic feeding programmes may be implemented. However, these programmes will be effective only if an adequate general ration is also being distributed.
Household food security
23. Requirement for external food aid is determined by the degree of access to local food. This in turn is influenced by the availability of local food on the one hand, (e.g. in the market or from own production) and the purchasing power and opportunities allowed to the affected population on the other hand (e.g. for direct purchase from local sources or for the purchase of seeds etc. where food production is possible and allowed). The extent to which such inputs from the population are sustainable or reflect the erosion of assets that the population had initially, must be assessed.