Monitoring is a logical and regular gathering of information from projects and programmes for a number of reasons, which include the following: (1) To discover from experiences and make better practices and actions in the future; (2) To have an understanding on the resources utilized and the results attained; (3) To make informed resolutions on the future of the undertaking. Nutrition monitoring and evaluation are distinct though related efforts but with different objectives.
Research, divided into basic and operational research is a very important component in ensuring improvements in nutrition through the generation of evidence. Operational research deals with generating evidence on systems and procedures of service delivery. Currently under the Scaling Up nutrition framework, various operational researches are being undertaken.
Zambia Situation Analysis
Currently various systems exist in ministries and departments in the nutrition sector in Zambia. These systems are for the basis of service delivery as well as information generation. The systems for the delivery of nutrition services are guided by scientifically proven intervention pathways while for information generation; various monitoring and evaluation systems exist. For example, the Ministry of Health collects nutrition information through the Health Management Information System (HMIS); the Ministry of Education through the Education Management Information System (EMIS) and the Disaster Management and Mitigation Unit through Vulnerability Assessments, and the Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock through the Crop forecast surveys.
Other sources of information are through national surveys that collect information on Food and nutrition such as the Demographic Health Surveys (DHS), Living Conditions and Monitoring Surveys (LCMS), nutrition surveys such as the Food and Micronutrient surveys, food balance sheets, mid and annual programme reviews. The above mentioned information systems have been useful data sources for the Food and Nutrition Situation report, which is a yearly publication of the National Food and Nutrition Commission.
Recently the National Food and Nutrition Commission developed a comprehensive and coordinated M & E and research system on nutrition aimed at providing appropriate guidance to the policy formulation, decision making and programme implementation.
- To track progress and generate evidence to guide policy, decision making and programme implementation across the sectors.
- To operationalise the Zambia Nutritional Information System (ZAMNIS)
To attain the set out objectives, the National Food and Nutrition Commission has undertaken a number of activities including:
- Holding of multisectoral meetings that brought expertise from different institutions to discuss Food and Nutrition indicators they collect in relation to the Food and Nutrition activities they implement. In addition, efforts were made to define the indicators, indicate the frequency for collection based on the nature of specific indicators such as sensitivity, and assign responsibility for collection and use.
- The development of a comprehensive Multisectoral Monitoring and Evaluation System with support from the World Bank and envisaged for management at different levels
- The development of the sentinel surveillance system which will be providing comprehensive information on Food and Nutrition that will be difficult to generate from the existing information systems.
- The baseline survey has been undertaken in all the 14 SUN districts and collected most of the indicators included in the multisectoral M & E Framework. Details are in the baseline report.
- The Zambia Nutritional Information System (ZAMNIS), hosting all the Food and Nutrition indicators in the country and is being managed by the National Food and Nutrition Commission.
It is important to mention that
- Specific nutrition surveys will be taking place as need arises to collect specific indicators
- Operational research on some of the priority interventions, are currently on-going and the Zambia Scaling Up Nutrition Fund is playing an important role.
A number of partners in Zambia from Government, United Nations, Non-Governmental Organizations, Civil Society Organizations, Academia and private sector have been playing critical roles in supporting the research, monitoring and evaluation function in the nutrition sector in Zambia.