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PLoS By Category | Recent PLoS Articles
Pediatrics and Child Health

The Practical Challenges of Evaluating a Blanket Emergency Feeding Programme in Northern Kenya
Published: Wednesday, October 26, 2011
Author: Andrew Hall et al.

by Andrew Hall, Moragwa Oirere, Susan Thurstans, Assumpta Ndumi, Victoria Sibson

A blanket supplementary feeding programme for young children was implemented for four months in five northern districts of Kenya from January 2010 because of fears of food insecurity exacerbated by drought. An attempt to evaluate the impact of the food on children's anthropometric status was put in place in three districts. The main aim of the analysis was to assess the quality of the data on the cohort of children studied in the evaluation and to propose methods by which it could be improved to evaluate future blanket feeding programmes. Data on the name, age, sex, weight and height of a systematic sample of children recruited at 61 food distribution sites were collected at the first, second and third rounds and again at an extra, fifth food distribution, offered only to the evaluation subjects. Of the 3,544 children enrolled, 483 (13.63%) did not collect a fifth ration. Of the 2,640 children who were considered by their name to be the same at the first and fifth food distribution (13% were different), data on only 902 children (34.17%) were considered acceptable based on their age (an arbitrary ±3 months different) and their length or height (between >-1 or =4 cm different) at the two instances they were seen. Data on nearly two thirds of children were of questionable quality. The main reasons for the poor quality data were inconsistencies in estimating age or because caretakers may have brought different children. Recommendations are made about how to improve data quality including ensuring that entry to a blanket feeding programme is clearly based on height, not age, to avoid misreporting age; careful identification of subjects at all contacts; and using well-trained, specialist evaluation staff.