Menu ENN Search

Priority indicators in humanitarian emergencies

Summary of reports1

As part of establishing its role in supporting the humanitarian community and national governments, the Health and Nutrition Tracking System (HNTS) hired a consultant to recommend a short priority list of health indicators to be promoted for use in all settings of health crisis.

Data and indicator policies for the ten largest humanitarian non-governmental organisations (NGOs) plus other selected organisations were obtained by interviews, publications and web postings. The actual measurement activities of 11 NGO programmes in five countries were obtained and compared to headquarter (HQ) policies. Because the Sphere Standards were the primary indicator source cited, a Medline review was conducted to explore the published evidence basis for each specific indicator.

The HNTS found that:
There is widespread variation between the indicators that agencies propose collecting. Only measures of mortality and malnutrition appear to be very common, with maternal mortality and water availability prioritised by a majority of agencies.

In the field, most operational international NGOs do not collect all the indicators that their HQs suggest. This variation seems to arise primarily because HQ policies consider human health in a broad sense, but funding procedures often leave programmes focused on only a narrow set of health issues.

The Sphere Standards provide the most widely used health monitoring indicators in the field of humanitarian assistance. Of the 346 indicators in the 2004 Sphere Handbook, 224 (65%) are not believed to be quantifiable, 48 (14%) are quantifiable but cannot be supported by a search of the published literature, and for only 55 (13%) were any data identified to support that a given indicator was related to human health.

It is generally argued in the literature that there is a need for a short list of quantifiable indicators that actually are health outcomes (e.g. mortality rates) or that are linked to strongly to health outcomes (e.g. measles immunisation coverage).

The study drew the following conclusions:
HNTS should endeavour to help agencies become engaged in the 2009 Sphere revision process with an eye towards: a) reducing the key indicators to one or two per sector, b) limiting the word 'indicator' to easily measureable terms, and c) choosing indicators in sectors intending to influence human survival and health which have some evidence suggesting that they are related to human health.

This assessment provides a ringing endorsement for the logic of the SMART initiative. Malnutrition and mortality rates are priority measures for most agencies and academics, and meet the criteria of a good health indicator. Logic exists for including maternal mortality and water consumption on an expanded list of priority indicators.

A broader measure of morbidity (probably based on acute respiratory tract infection (ARI) and diarrhoea incidence) which does not exist is needed. HNTS is uniquely positioned to identify, evaluate and established some broader measure of morbidity for use in crisis situations. Pneumonia and diarrhoea account for one third to one half of childhood deaths everywhere.

HNTS should create and promote technical support in the field with the sole purpose of supporting mortality and malnutrition monitoring. This could happen through the Health Cluster process, via SMART, or on a model similar to a UNHCR regional support person.

Show footnotes

1Health and Nutrition Tracking Service (2009). Consultancy report and background documents. Priority Indicators in complex emergencies. September 2009

More like this

FEX: Scale-up of IMAM services in Afghanistan

By Ahmad Nawid Qarizada, Piyali Mustaphi, Jecinter Akinyi Oketch and Shafiqullah Safi View this article as a pdf Lisez cet article en français ici Ahmad Nawid...

FEX: 2011 Edition of the Sphere Handbook Humanitarian Charter and Minimum Standards in Humanitarian Response

Farmers association level consultation at Chuko, Southern Nations, Nationalities and Peoples (SNNPR) province, Ethiopia, August 2009 By Susan Thurstans, Paul Turnbull, Devrig...

FEX: Assessing the intervention on infant feeding in Gaza 2008

By Susan Thurstans and Vicky Sibson Susan Thurstans has been part of the emergency response team for nutrition with Save the Children UK since January 2009 and previously...

FEX: UNICEF global SAM management update (2012)

Summary of report1 Thanks to Saul Guerrero, ACF-UK, for preparing this summary. Location: Global What we know: Mapping of global SAM management requires baseline and...

FEX: A Review of the advances and challenges in nutrition in conflicts and crises over the last 20 years

Abbreviated version of unpublished paper Food distribution at the ICRC kitchen in Tonj. By Frances Mason and Anna Taylor This paper is a shortened version of the complete...

FEX: Maintaining GOAL’s capacity to support surveillance in Ethiopia

By Zeine Muzeiyn and Ewnetu Yohannes Zeine Muzeiyn has been working in the area of Nutrition for the last seven years. Before he joined GOAL Ethiopia, he had been working in...

FEX: Derivation of nutrient requirements for disaster-affected populations - Sphere Project 2011

Summary of research1 Location: Global What we know: The Sphere Handbook defines minimum standards and indicators for assessing humanitarian responses, including food and...

FEX: Chronic vulnerability in Niger

Summary of published research1 Niger has suffered from chronic malnutrition, rooted in structural vulnerabilities, for several decades. According to a recent article in...

FEX: Management of acute malnutrition in Niger: a countrywide programme

By Dr Guero H Doudou Maimouna, Dr Yami Chegou and Prof Ategbo Eric-Alain Dr Guero H Doudou Maimouna is a Paediatrician and holds a PhD in Public Health. She has over 15 years...

FEX: Decentralisation and scale up of outpatient management of SAM in Ethiopia (2008-2010)

By Sylvie Chamois Sylvie Chamois has been a Nutrition specialist with UNICEF Ethiopia and Burundi for the past 9 years. Before joining UNICEF, she spent 6 years working as a...

FEX: Global CMAM mapping in UNICEF supported countries

Summary of review1 A recent review commissioned by UNICEF set out to develop a global map on the status of Communitybased Management of Acute Malnutrition (CMAM) with a focus...

FEX: Summary of Lancet Series on Maternal and Child Undernutrition

Below are short summaries of the recently launched Lancet series of papers on Maternal and Child Undernutrition1. This high profile series focuses on the disease burden...

FEX: Bottleneck analysis for the integrated management of acute malnutrition services in Somalia

By John Ntambi, Madina Ali Abdirahman, Dorothy Nabiwemba, Pramila Ghimire, Sayed Ezatullah Majeed, Kheyriya Mohamed, Samson Desie, Rufaro Musvaire and Marjorie Volege John...

FEX: Prioritising acute malnutrition research: preliminary results of a CHNRI survey

By Amy Mayberry and CORTASAM members Amy Mayberry is Head of Evidence at Action Against Hunger, where she supports the technical and research activities of No Wasted Lives,...

FEX: The roll out of IMAM in Kenya’s urban slums

By Koki Kyalo, Claire Orengo, Regine Kopplow Koki Kyalo is the Urban Nutrition Programme Manager at Concern Worldwide, Kenya. She has worked with Concern Worldwide for five...

FEX: Towards better documentation of mortality in crises

Summary of research1 A family in an IDP camp in DRC A recently published article identifies the two main functions of mortality data in crises as the support of relief...

Blog post: Notes from Myanmar - an ENN and Nutrition International joint visit

Lire ce blog en Français I began April with a weeklong visit to Myanmar, not my first visit but the first in my role as KM Specialist with ENN. Myanmar and its...

FEX: Disaggregation of health and nutrition indicators by ageand gender in Dadaab refugee camps, Kenya

By Henry Mark Henry recently graduated with a BSc in Food and Human Nutrition from Newcastle University. He has conducted research in The Gambia and interned with UNHCR at the...

FEX: Minimum standards in post-emergency phase

Summary of online published paper1 In the acute phase of complex humanitarian emergencies, assessment data on service delivery and health outcomes for interventions are...

FEX: CMAM rollout in Ethiopia: the ‘way in’ to scale up nutrition

By Dr Ferew Lemma, Dr Tewoldeberhan Daniel, Dr Habtamu Fekadu and Emily Mates Dr Ferew Lemma is Senior Nutrition Advisor to the State Minister (Programs), Federal Ministry of...

Close

Reference this page

Priority indicators in humanitarian emergencies. Field Exchange 37, November 2009. p11. www.ennonline.net/fex/37/priority

(ENN_3966)

Close

Download to a citation manager

The below files can be imported into your preferred reference management tool, most tools will allow you to manually import the RIS file. Endnote may required a specific filter file to be used.