Interview with the NIPN Niger team about the data landscape exercise

November 15th, 2018

  • Issiak Balarabé Mahamane, Assistant to the General Secretary, INS
  • Guillaume Poirel, Head of Mission for NIPN Technical Assistance, SOFRECO

Recap
The NIPN team in Niger conducted a data mapping study between November 2017 and May 2018, during the start-up phase of the project, using an external consultant. The aim of the study was to carry out “an inventory and analysis of the information and data systems for nutrition in Niger”. The study was carried out by the INS (National Statistical Office), under the strategic direction of the High Commissioner to the 3N “Nigeriens Nourish Nigeriens” initiative. This interview highlights:

  1. How the Niger team has used the results to develop a capacity building plan for sectors
  2. How the Niger team dealt with the lack of official definition of key indicators for nutrition
  3. Methodological recommendations for collecting the information

How did the study go? What were the main challenges encountered?
The structures to investigate were identified based on the institutions named as “responsible” or “collaborative” in the eight commitments of the National Policy for Nutrition Security (PNSN).
Questionnaires were given to the sectors, resulting in a significant loss of time. The best method is to meet with the institutions directly and carry out this mapping work with them. The necessary information was obtained after just two or three visits to each institution and only the institutions at the central level were investigated. This was a limiting factor because certain information, notably on the data quality monitoring mechanism, is available at sub-national level.
Due to the sheer volume of information collected, there was an enormous amount of simplifying and restructuring work to be done by the NIPN team. The ‘sector sheets’ were systematically created, consolidating the various elements.
This led again to considerable delays: instead of being finalised by the end of December 2017, the study was finalised in May 2018 and pushed forward until February 2019.

How did you use the results of the study?
Firstly, the study provided objective information about the available data from multiple sectors.
The results allowed us to draw up an initial list of indicators available in each sector in an Excel file.

  1. The study also produced ‘Sector Sheets’ which outline:
  2. The institutional framework;
  3. The organisational framework;
  4. The collection mechanism;
  5. The mechanism for the validation and quality assurance of data;
  6. The data management mechanism;
  7. The output;
  8. The dissemination and exploitation of information;
  9. The indicators and data available;
  10. The nutrition-sensitive indicators;
  11. The indicators selected for the NIPN.

Following the data mapping, it became apparent that there was an urgent need to put together a referential database of NIPN indicators. In fact, in Niger there is no existing framework providing an official list of the multi-sectoral indicators for nutrition. We are working to adopt nutrition-sensitive indicators in each sector. These indicators will serve as a basis for the NIPN platform.

Taking into account the institutions’ capacities, we decided to recruit a few ‘Sectoral Study Officers’ for four months.

The Sectoral Support Officers have access to clearly identified indicators and will have to ensure that the values for each indicator are collected (15 October 2018 – 15 February 2019), which is a necessary prerequisite for organising the data and building the ‘Nutrition Info’ module. The work of the Sectoral Support Officers will enable us to:

  1. Consolidate the database of nutrition indicators. As a result, for example, we have determined that in the health sector 27 nutrition indicators were missing in the initial mapping. To date, there are several stages to the consolidation: 1. Verifying the comprehensiveness of the indicators, 2) Sorting the indicators according to their link with or ‘sensitivity’ to nutrition, 3) Completing the 23 fields for each indicator (definition, frequency, method of calculation, etc.) and 4. Validating the set of fields for the indicators selected for the NIPN. Also, 239 indicators have been selected for the 3 sectors currently covered (123 indicators for health, 23 indicators for education, 93 indicators for farming and agriculture);
  2. Analyse the nutritional statistics situation in the beneficiary sectors;
  3. Create and validate data sheets for each indicator;
  4. Collect information and documents;
  5. Update the contact list.

The ‘Sectoral Study Officers’ also make it possible to strengthen capacities in each sector and build relationships that will facilitate access to multi-sectoral data at a later stage.