Rapid Nutrition Surveys using Standardised Monitoring and Assessment of Relief and Transition (SMART) methods were initiated in 8 states of northern Nigeria in 2010. UNICEF provides technical support and financial support to the National Bureau of Statistics and National Population Commission to implement these surveys twice a year. The SMART surveys as they are now know in Nigeria use two stage cluster sampling of 300 households per state.
The objective of the surveys is to provide information on the nutrition status of children, vitamin a supplementation coverage, use of deworming tablets, nutrition of women and crude mortality. Due to the demand for timely survey reports every 6 months field work included use of notebook computers loaded with software for handling of anthropometric measurements.
The first data entry takes place in the field and any errors are corrected before moving to the next enumeration area, a total of 30 enumeration areas are selected per state. Over time that data quality has improved due to use of notebook computers. In July 2013 the Ministry of Health and partners requested UNICEF to increase the geographic scale of the survey from 8 to 24 States. Nigeria has a total of 36 states plus the Federal Capital Territory. The reason for this geographic expansion of the survey is the interest of government to generate data for monitoring progress towards achievement of the ‘saving One Million lives initiative’ which is a Nigerian commitment to the global ‘A promise renewed’ initiative. Data collection is currently taking place. Additional indicators were added to assess Antenatal Care services use, insecticide treated bednet use, Routine immunization coverage and diarrhoea among under 5s.
The next round of SMART Surveys is planned for November 2013 using SMART phones as an upgrade from notebook computers. Using SMART Phones will make it possible to add a few more indicators without compromising data quality and timelines of data availability for analysis. Data from these surveys will be used to establish linkages with Monitoring of Results for Equity systems (MORES) in Nigeria and assists state governments to remove bottlenecks that hinder accelerated achievement of results to achieve, “A promise renewed Targets”.
Stanley Chitekwe, Chief of Nutrition, UNICEF Abuja.