The global nutrition community is remarkably diverse: its stakeholders include people working in vastly different fields, from health to agriculture, to water and sanitation and in roles ranging from program management to policy development to issue-based advocacy. Some work for small community-based organizations while others work for national governments, or huge multilateral or UN organizations with a global focus. It’s logical to assume that the information needs of these diverse actors vary; as do the specific data they access and use, but there is limited information about these topics. In 2018, DataDENT carried out an online survey of 235 nutrition professionals working throughout the world in order to characterize their nutrition data use and unmet data needs. The findings were recently published in the Journal of Global Health (link here).
Key findings include:
• The most commonly cited indicators included infant and young child feeding (IYCF) practices (exclusive breastfeeding; child dietary diversity) and child anthropometry (stunting; wasting); more than 65% of respondents reported accessing them in the previous year.
• Demographic and Health Surveys (DHS) were the most commonly accessed country-specific data source, accessed by 75% of respondents, followed by the Multiple Indicator Cluster Surveys (MICS) which was accessed by 57%.
• Respondents working in a single country were more likely to access a number of primary data sources including data from Standard Monitoring and Assessment of Relief and Transitions (SMART) surveys and District Health Information System 2 (DHIS-2) compared with those working across multiple countries.
• Consolidated data sources were more likely to be used by multi-country actors than those focused on a single country. The Global Nutrition Report was the most commonly cited consolidated data source; 75% of all respondents accessed it in the previous year. This was followed by the UNICEF State of the World’s Children report, accessed by 57% of respondents.
• Nearly half of those surveyed reported not finding data at the geographical level that they needed; many stakeholders also reported that the data they used was not available as frequently as they would like or was outdated.
DataDENT has used the survey findings to guide various efforts to strengthen global and national data value chains. They were instrumental in shaping recommendations for new nutrition content in the DHS-8 core questionnaire. Findings were also used to design our Data Visualization Tool Landscaping efforts. Most recently the findings informed recommendations to improve the Service Provision Assessment (SPA) questionnaire. DataDENT is currently developing coverage measurement guidance for nutrition sensitive social protection programs, another gap identified in the survey.
DataDENT is committed to finding new ways to engage data users in shaping global and national priorities for strengthening nutrition data value chains. Keep watching this space to learn more.