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'Context' indicators in nutrition surveys

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Fiona Watson

Normal user

14 May 2009, 11:45

'Context' indicators (i.e. indicators other than anthropometry and mortality) are routinely collected during nutrition surveys. I understand that the SMART initiative is currently working on standardising 'context' indicators for nutrition surveys but I'm not sure what the current status of these are. If anyone can update me on SMART and/or on any other initiatives looking at context indicators I would appreciate it.


Mark Myatt

Consultant Epideomiologist

Frequent user

14 May 2009, 15:12

Context indicators are often taken to mean some form of household food-economy assessment susch as SC-UK;s HEA method. I do not want to downplay the utility of this type of data but it can be difficult to collect well and to analyse well. I think that simpler but still useful indicators can be collected. I am thinking of quantitative indicators such as market prices for staples, wage rates for unskilled labour, price of livestock. Analysing these are ratios (e.g. days of labour required to purchase 50kg of maize or quantity of maize than can be purchased for the sale of a shoat) over time can provide context. Semi-quantitative techniques aimed at building calendars of disease (human and livestock), food availability, labour demand, &c, are also useful. Helen Young covers this briefly in the OXFAM guide (#7) "Food Scarcity and Famine : Assessment and Response" which might still be available from OXFAM. A fuller treatment can be found in RRA and PRA guidelines (in particular McCracken's "An introduction to rapid rural appraisal for agricultural development").

Tamsin Walters

en-net moderator

Forum moderator

15 May 2009, 10:57

From Jen Peterson:

Fiona - You might find this document on CARE's coping strategies index useful as well. Cheers - Jen


Mark Myatt

Consultant Epideomiologist

Frequent user

15 May 2009, 15:39

The vagaries of this content management system means that the link you gave is malformed. I have fiddled around and this link and:[1].pdf

should work.

These are interesting indicators. WFP have something similar.

Kate Ogden

Normal user

3 Jun 2009, 11:20

Regarding the WFP guidance on Coping Strategies that Mark mentioned - it is the same document as the CARE one.
WFP also has a Technical Guidance Sheet (No.14) on Strengthening Rapid Food and Nutrition Security Assessment which looks at links between food security and nutrition indicators in food security assessments. It can be downloaded at:

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