Objective: The purpose of the present study was to test the construct validity, internal consistency and convergent validity of the Household Food Insecurity Access Scale (HFIAS) in measuring household food insecurity in rural Tanzania, and to determine socio-economic characteristics associated with household food insecurity.
Design: Key informant interviews and a cross-sectional survey were conducted in February and March 2008.
Setting: Rural Iringa, Tanzania.
Subjects: Key informant interviews were conducted with twenty-one purposively selected male and female village leaders. For the household surveys, a sample of 237 households with mothers (caregivers) and at least one child between 1 and 5 years of age were included.
Results: Approximately 20.7 % of the households were categorized as food-secure, 8.4 % as mildly food-insecure, 22.8 % as moderately food-secure and 48.1 % as severely food-insecure. Two main factors emerged from the rotated principal component factor analysis: (i) insufficient food quality; and (ii) insufficient food intake. Both factors explained 69 % of the total variance. The full food insecurity scale and the two subscales had good internal consistency (Cronbach's alpha = 0.83-0.90). Food security, as measured by HFIAS, was positively associated with maternal education, husband's education, household wealth status, being of an agricultural rather than pastoral tribe and animal-source food consumption; it was negatively associated with maternal age and household size.
Conclusions: The HFIAS measurement instrument shows validity and reliability in measuring household food insecurity among poor households in rural Tanzania.