On 20-26 April 2017, GAIN’s Valerie Friesen and Emily Turano took part in a training of data collectors for the 2017 Fortification Assessment Coverage Toolkit (FACT) survey in Abuja, Nigeria. In this blogpost, they explain the importance of the FACT toolkit and of this training to help ensure the success of food fortification programs in the country.
“Wheat flour! That’s FACT! Maize flour! That’s FACT! Get your vitamins and nutrients! That’s FACT!” Everyone laughed and cheered as the participant continued rapping a song about what one would imagine is quite an unlikely subject for any rap on the final evening of a week-long training of data collectors for the 2017 FACT survey in Nigeria.
The training has been intense, but by the end, the data collectors have demonstrated through classroom practice and pilot field interviews their mastery of a survey designed to collect information on household demographics/socioeconomic status, dietary diversity and food consumption patterns, as well as on household use of fortifiable and fortified foods. In the next few days, these newly trained data collectors will depart for the field to interview approximately 1,260 households across the two states of Sokoto and Ebonyi and canvas various market hubs to collect food samples to test for added micronutrients.
The 2017 FACT survey is the second of its kind to be implemented in the country, jointly by the Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition (GAIN) and Oxford Policy Management, in collaboration with the Nigeria Federal Ministry of Health. The first survey was conducted in 2015 in Lagos and Kano States and found that, although there is high potential for fortified foods to contribute to increased nutrient intakes, further efforts are needed to improve fortification quality and enforcement to maximize impact, especially among the most vulnerable. The results of the 2017 FACT survey will contribute to filling the evidence gaps on program performance in other areas of the country.
FACT is a survey methodology developed by GAIN in 2013 for assessing coverage in both population-based (i.e. staple foods and/or condiments) and targeted (i.e. infant and young child) fortification programs. The toolkit uses household and market assessments to generate evidence on coverage, utilization, and quality of fortified foods. It also separates the results by risk factors related to poor nutrition and health outcomes to see if the most vulnerable groups are being reached. These data are necessary to identify program barriers and enhancers, and inform program improvements and decision-making around fortification.
Since the 2015 FACT Survey, the momentum around the Nigerian fortification agenda has been building. More recently, the #NigeriaFutureFortified Stakeholders Dialogue, convened by GAIN and the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control, drew national attention once again to the challenges and issues of large-scale food fortification in Nigeria.
Combining this renewed political commitment with the results of the 2017 FACT survey, Nigeria is primed to take important steps from words to action. The country has maintained a food fortification program since 1993, when salt iodization was initiated, and expanded it to flours, oil, and sugar in 2000. Improving the performance of this national program is critical, especially given the persistence of malnutrition in all its forms in Nigeria and the known cost-effectiveness and sustainability of large-scale food fortification for increasing nutrient intakes in a population. With the data generated from the FACT surveys, the country can continue improving its food fortification program and increase the availability of adequately fortified foods to those who need it most.
Published 15 May 2017