Application of Dietary Diversity Tool in Food Security and Nutrition Programmes

Valid and timely nutrition assessment is the foundation upon which effective nutrition promotion programmes can be built to effectively improve nutrition. Standardized food-based indicators are crucial for making time, space and cross-country comparisons in terms of trends estimation, target setting and monitoring and evaluation of programmes and policies.

In the framework of the European project "Support the strengthening of the National Food Security Information System" and of the EU Programme "Improve Global Governance for Hunger Reduction", the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) has held various training courses on the use of the dietary diversity tool for food security and nutrition programmes in several countries.

The purpose of these workshops is to develop in countries the capacity to undertake dietary surveys and to validly and accurately assess the impact of actions and programmes on nutritional outcomes, by using a simple and valid food-based assessment tool. The training courses are focused on providing training and practical experience in using the Dietary Diversity (DD) tool.

Dietary diversity describes the range of foods that is consumed. It is a qualitative measure of food consumption that can be used as a proxy to indicate diet quality and nutrient adequacy of a group of individuals. Dietary diversity also reflects household access to a variety of foods when measured at household level. The DD tool usually gathers dietary information over the previous 24 hours: the information collected will be classified into standard food groups. The DD tool can be administered either at household level (an indication of household food security) or at individual level (an indication of diet quality of individuals). This simple, low cost and evidence-based tool is rapid to generate analytical results in most situations.
This tool is useful for countries with limited capacity and resources. It can be applied at country and regional level.

Course Description

The training courses combine lectures, focus group discussion, exercises and supervised field work practices. The duration of these courses ranges from 3-6 days.

Target audience

The workshops welcome participants coming from Ministries of Agriculture, Health, Economic Development and Trade, National Statistics Offices, universities and research institutions as well as staff from FAO offices, etc. The course is appropriate for participants with backgrounds in agriculture, food and nutrition, health, rural development and/or monitoring and evaluation.