The nutritional requirements are used as a yardstick for pragmatic and conceptual reasons. It provided a universal and fixed yardstick against which different food aid deliveries could be assessed. This increases comparability and kept the concept relatively simple. It also allows the indicators to be used for all kinds of food aid, irrespective of their destination or use. Comparing food aid deliveries to the actual nutritional needs of beneficiaries is not feasible as universal, comprehensive and detailed information on nutritional needs and gaps among beneficiaries is not available.
The three indicators compare the supply of nutrients with requirements. The indicators are based on the nutritional requirements for Energy and 13 macro- and micronutrients. These 13 nutrients were chosen on the recommendations of the participants of a workshop held on 8 July 2008.
The requirements are compared to the nutrients contained in the food commodities, which are compiled in a Food Composition Table. Thus if a beneficiary receives 0.5 kg of maize per day, which contains 1775 Kcal of energy, the food meets 85 percent of the nutritional requirements (1775/2100 * 100). This is the basic calculation behind the Individual Requirement Met on Average (IRMA). The proposed indicators are all based on averages or manipulations of this basic idea. For example, maize also contains other nutrients and the same calculations can be repeated for those nutrients.
Three indicators are proposed:
IRMAt = Individual Requirements Met on Average, Total: the total number of people for whom the requirements for each nutrient are potentially met based on the total tons delivered/selected. Thus, IRMAtj shows for each nutrient j the total number of people whose nutritional requirements could potentially be satisfied by the total tonnage selected/delivered to the country.
IRMA = Individual Requirements Met on Average: the number of people for whom the requirements for each nutrient could potentially be satisfied with 1 representative ton of the selected food basket. IRMAj scales IRMAtj down to 1 ton by dividing IRMAtj by the total tons selected for the country. This allows for easy comparisons across different food aid deliveries by eliminating the quantity component of IRMAt.
IRMAs = Individual Requirements Met on Average, Score: an average of 13 IRMAj values as a percentage of the IRMA value for energy. No weights are applied, but maximum values are imposed so that outliers are not unduly influencing the average, the indicator is restricted to the interval [0-100] and excess quantities are penalized. IRMAs is the only indicator that is one number.
Each indicator relays a different piece of information. IRMAt provides information about the scale of food aid. IRMA provides information about the nutritional value of 1 ton, allowing comparisons across deliveries without being influenced by the size of the total deliveries. IRMAs provides information in one number on the balance of the food basket that is implicit in the food aid deliveries.
The requirements and metric tons are scaled up for the actual indicators. That is, the nutritional requirements are not per day, but per year. And the nutrient content is not per 100 gram, as is the case for Food Composition Tables, but for 1 metric ton (MT). See also the User’s Guide.