Guest post by Ismael Ngnie Teta, Chief Nutrition, UNICEF Guinea

The Guinea National Nutrition Survey 2015 was designed to provide critical information on the nutrition status of children and women of reproductive age and health service delivery as the Ebola epidemic recedes. To ensure the collection of timely, robust and quality data, survey teams entered data into ODK forms on smart phones. The introduction of this innovative approach was skillfully supported by UNICEF Guinea and partners including ACF, HKI, WFP, and Terres des Hommes.

The Ebola context significantly challenged the undertaking of the survey. As the survey teams had to collect data from areas where Ebola case tracking was still going on, the safety of the survey teams and respondents was the first order. A special protocol was designed for the survey including use of hygiene kits and plastic gloves to disinfect all scales, height boards and MUAC strips after each measure. Survey teams were composed of doctors and medical students, which gave them the opportunity to see how both Ebola and the regular seasonal changes affect the nutrition and health of the population.

SMART toise

The physical security of the teams was also of serious concern due to the risk of community resistance and violence. A loss of trust of communities in authorities was observed during the Ebola epidemic. To prevent any misunderstandings and security risks, survey objectives and dates of field work were shared in advance with sampled communities and close communication was maintained with survey teams.

The survey was carried out across the country, including in areas heavily affected by Ebola. A more in-depth sub-sampling was conducted in Kankan region where the population has always been considered at high risk of acute malnutrition. Data were collected on:

  • Anthropometry of children and women of reproductive age
  • Crude mortality rates in population overall and under-five children
  • Vitamin A, deworming and vaccination rates
  • Infant and young child feeding practices
  • Water, Sanitation, Hygiene and
  • Knowledge and practices around Ebola prevention and treatment.

Smart phones were used by the survey teams for the collection of all data except for the anthropometric measurements. As the new WHO flags in ODK questions were not yet available at the start of the survey, the standard SMART method of completing questionnaires and data entry into ENA in the field was done to ensure high data quality. This allowed coordinators to provide timely and appropriate feedback to fieldwork teams as data collection progressed.