cooking fuel and other necessities for living. These issues vary by situation and can be used to adjust the committee's EMPCER when such information becomes available.


The request to the committee was to recommend a single value that meets the average energy requirement of populations. That value would be used when making decisions about the immediate purchasing and shipping of food for use as emergency rations when all one knows is the number of persons affected. In such a case, one need only multiply the the average energy requirement (the EMPCER) by the number of persons to be fed to derive the total energy needs of the target population.

The true mean per capita energy requirement can vary widely under different circumstances because it is affected substantially by local factors, the most important of which are ascertainable but often not known to those who must make decisions concerning purchasing and shipping of food. Thus, the committee understands that having a single universally agreed-upon EMPCER could expedite relief activities because there would be no delay involved in justifying this figure (and no time lost in clarifying the justification) for each new request for emergency food.

As knowledge about a local situation becomes clearer, the original estimated per capita energy need must be modified. Thus, the committee does not expect its EMPCER to be used to calculate food needs in subsequent requests for longer-term food aid for a population. Collecting the kinds of information that can be used to adjust the per capita energy requirement through an efficient monitoring system is an important component of food relief (CDC, 1992).

It is also important to note that the committee's EMPCER may not be the correct figure for use with refugee and displaced persons in situations in which some foods may be available locally. In such cases, the estimated energy requirement may need to be adjusted downwards to avoid the unnecessary distribution of food and the resulting reduction of relief resources possibly available for other emergency situations.

Whatever number is used to estimate per capita energy need, it should be the same across all agencies and governments in order to expedite food relief. It is also important that this figure be compatible with the scientific knowledge of human biology and behavior. However, the reasonable range of scientifically justified figures for mean per capita energy needs is approximately 1,900 to 2,500 kcal (7.9 to 10.5 MJ)/d (see pages 5–17). Within this range, the usefulness of having a single figure to expedite relief operations may outweigh the subtleties of selecting among various scientifically plausible assumptions that underlie the calculation of this range of EMPCER values. We present the different assumptions that are the basis for the committee's EMPCER, and we illustrate the

The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine
500 Fifth St. N.W. | Washington, D.C. 20001

Copyright © National Academy of Sciences. All rights reserved.
Terms of Use and Privacy Statement