High-quality and relevant nutrition data is needed to understand progress towards reducing malnutrition and reaching nutrition targets. However, nutrition data systems are fragmented and incomplete in low- and middle-income countries. This makes it difficult for governments, development partners, and other nutrition stakeholders to access and use data to monitor ongoing efforts and allocate resources.
Challenges exist at each link in the nutrition data value chain, including:
- Prioritization: define priorities and standard indicators;
- Creation & collection: generate high quality national and subnational data;
- Curation: aggregate, structure, and report field data;
- Analysis: Synthesize data, build analytical tools & models to derive insight;
- Translation & dissemination: Translate into program & policy recommendations;
- Decision-making: Make evidence-based decisions and implement policy.
These challenges currently fail to capture the complex, multisectoral causes of and responses to malnutrition.
The Institute for International Programs (IIP) at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, The International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI), and Results for Development are working together as part of an initiative, called Data for Decisions to Expand Nutrition Transformation (DataDENT), to support all elements of the nutrition data value chain. DataDENT is a four year-initiative (2017-2021) that aims to transform the availability and use of nutrition data by addressing gaps in nutrition measurement and advocating for strong nutrition data systems.
DataDENT activities target each link in the nutrition data value chain through three interrelated work streams. Complementing global- and country-level initiatives, these activities address existing data gaps and how data can be presented to encourage data use and uptake by decision-makers.
- Track priority indicators: compiling data and tracking a set of nutrition indicators in Bangladesh, Burkina Faso, Ethiopia, Nigeria, and India, and select regions, and identifying ways to promote indicator uptake and meet decision-maker needs through effective data visualization tools.
- Advocate for better coordinated data systems: engaging technical and policy audiences around data systems for nutrition and developing technical products that support the data value chain. Examples include convening nutrition measurement experts and data users to develop guidance on household survey design and innovative nutrition coverage indicators.
- Research new nutrition measurement methods: advancing innovations in measuring the reach of nutrition interventions and advocacy.
DataDENT works with the multisectoral nutrition community to expand the use of data for nutrition decision-making globally, including five countries (Ethiopia, Nigeria, Burkina Faso, Bangladesh, and India) and two replication regions (West Africa and Southeast Asia).
R4D’s work on DataDENT primarily focuses on promoting data uptake and supporting decision-makers’ needs in nutrition. The first phase of R4D’s work includes a landscaping of data visualization tools in nutrition and consultations with nutrition stakeholders globally and in priority countries to assess their data needs and challenges for decision-making. These analyses will provide the foundation for a strategic path forward on how best to improve data use for decision-making in nutrition.
For more information about DataDENT, please visit datadent.org.