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Streamlining SMART survey processes to support the nutrition information system in Kenya

This is a summary of a Field Exchange field article that was included in issue 65. The original article was authored by Lydia Ndung’u, Lucy Maina-Gathigi, Lucy Kinyua, Hassan Ali Ahmed, Kibet Chirchir and Samuel Mahinda Murage

Lydia Ndung’u is a SMART Advisor for East Africa, Southern Africa and Yemen.

Lucy Maina-Gathigi is a Nutrition Officer with UNICEF Kenya, specialising in nutrition information systems.

Lucy Kinyua is a Monitoring and Evaluation Manager for the Kenyan Ministry of Health and the secretary of the Nutrition Information Technical Working Group.

Hassan Ali Ahmed is the Associate Director for Nutrition at Action Against Hunger Canada and a lead for the Global SMART Initiative.

Kibet Chirchir is a Nutrition Support Officer for the United Nations Office for Project Services.

Samuel Mahinda Murage is a Health Records and Information Officer working with the Kenyan Ministry of Health.

Since 2013, the processes for conducting Nutrition Standardized Monitoring and Assessment of Relief and Transitions (SMART) surveys in Kenya have been streamlined, harmonised and institutionalised, contributing to the development of a high quality, nationally-owned and led nutrition information system (NIS).

  • Key actions included the development of standardised guidelines and processes, capacity building, setting up survey validation systems and the management of a common data repository
  • Greater government funding and ownership of survey management, implementation and results have been central to achieving a high-quality NIS infrastructure
  • Collaboration and consultation with other sectors have ensured that SMART surveys are considered a reliable/valid source of data, raising the profile of the nutrition sector and providing a space for multi-sector engagement.

Background

National Nutrition Information Systems (NIS) are critical to inform timely, high quality nutrition responses. In recent years, the Kenya NIS has been developed to include clear guidelines and tools, as well as standardised methodologies and processes, to support national nutrition monitoring and evaluation (see Figure 1). Through this process, Nutrition Standardized Monitoring and Assessment of Relief and Transitions (SMART) surveys were identified as the key source of acute malnutrition data at population level. Efforts have therefore been made since 2013 to streamline the processes of SMART surveys so that they contribute to a high quality, nationally-owned and led NIS.

Figure 1: The Kenya Nutrition Information System

 

Actions to improve SMART surveys

The Nutrition Information Technical Working Group (NITWG), set up under the Kenya Nutrition Technical Forum led by the Ministry of Health (MoH), aims to strengthen the nutrition surveillance, monitoring and evaluation systems of the NIS. To achieve this, the NITWG has conducted several important actions since 2012 to improve the quality of data collected through SMART surveys across Kenya. These include:

Achievements

As a result of the actions described, SMART survey processes are clearer, resource mobilisation efforts are better coordinated and there is no more duplication. Streamlining these processes has led to a number of other achievements, including:

Lessons learned

In Kenya, a high-quality NIS infrastructure has been developed through investment in a government owned and sustained monitoring and evaluation framework for nutrition. Lessons learned from this process provide useful insights for countries hoping to strengthen their NIS processes.

Conclusions

Overall, the Kenya NIS has benefitted from having a clear monitoring and evaluation framework and well-defined coordination and quality control bodies. Based on the experiences of streamlining SMART survey processes to feed into the NIS, the key ingredients identified for a sustainable NIS include strengthening the capacity of government staff, succession planning and mentorship, coordinating efforts and resources and maintaining high standards and quality control frameworks.

For more information, please contact Lydia Ndungu at lydianyambu123@gmail.com

 

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1http://www.nutritionhealth.or.ke/

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Lydia Ndung’u, Lucy Maina-Gathigi, Lucy Kinyua, Hassan Ali Ahmed, Kibet Chirchir and Samuel Mahinda Murage (). Streamlining SMART survey processes to support the nutrition information system in Kenya. FEX 65 digest , November 2021. www.ennonline.net/fexdigest/65/nutritioninformationsystemkenya

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