Malnutrition has direct consequences on child health and long term cognitive and physical development. Globally, one in nine people is hungry and one in every three is overweight or obese. Many countries, including those in Sub-Saharan Africa, are experiencing the double burden of malnutrition, where undernutrition and micro-nutrient deficiencies co-exist with overweight, obesity and other diet-related conditions such as non-communicable diseases (NCDs). The number of people affected by hunger has been slowly increasing since 2014, with increases in Sub-Saharan Africa being greater than any other region. The world is not on track to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), especially SDG 2, by 2030. One of the determining factors on achieving the nutrition targets is how data are collected to track changes to key nutrition indicators, especially at individual and household levels. Issues of data collection are even more critical for remote regions of sub-Saharan Africa, which are not easy to reach in regular and routine data collection exercises.
Standard sources of household and individual nutrition and health data include demographic health surveys (DHS), usually done every five years, some ad hoc surveys that may incorporate seasonality or annual and biannual surveys to support humanitarian interventions. All these traditional methods depend on enumerators or use of health facilities to collect data. These approaches suffer from accessibility bias, are costly and the infrequent data collection intervals under heterogeneous and fast-moving confounding factors may not track changes in nutritional status and household coping mechanisms that occur over short periods of time. The low-frequency data collection can have serious implications on how practitioners and policy makers judge the impact of interventions aimed at improving household welfare. Furthermore, such data are often of little direct use to households themselves as they do not get feedback.
Unless approaches to collection of individual women and children’s and household nutrition and health data, especially for not-so-easy to reach communities, are changed, this will continue to negatively impact the efforts of governments and development practitioners to effectively programme and monitor the performance of nutrition and health interventions, and ultimately, achievement of national and global nutrition and health targets.
To develop and build capacity around a smartphone-based application for collecting and disseminating high-frequency, high-resolution food consumption and young child health data directly from and to households.Specific objectives:
- New smartphone application (e-data collection tool) developed and tested for functionality
- Smartphone application (e-tool) scaling-up
- Results of smartphone application (e-tool) disseminated and used for policy engagement.
- Secure the services of an application developer
- Develop alpha version of data collection tool, database and data collection protocols and variables (household health, dietary diversity, minimum dietary diversity for women, of reproductive age, minimum acceptable diets for children 6-23 months, frequency of diets
- Procure hardware (mobile phones and anthropometric measurement equipment) for use during pilot phase
- Develop and test beta-version of application during pilot phase
- Engage with potential users of e-tool
- Share results of pilot through publications and presentations
4. Disseminate results and engage in policy advocacy