Planning is an iterative process that ensures that changes to one aspect are accounted for in other aspects of the survey, including objectives, sample size and field logistics, and ensures that any revisions result in a plan that still fits within the budget. Planning and designing a micronutrient survey needs to take into consideration that the initial plan is likely to evolve depending on such factors as stakeholder priorities, sample size, budget, estimated costs, laboratory assays and field logistics. The following sections provide brief descriptions of points to consider when planning.

Box 1.1 presents a list of decisions to make when planning a micronutrient survey. The ”Initial Planning Checklist” online tool contains additional helpful information.

Box 1.1 Decisions to make when planning a survey

Decisions concerning survey objectives:

  1. The rationale for the survey, informed by the Steering committee and Technical committee

  2. The population groups to include for micronutrient and nutritional status assessment

  3. Which micronutrients are critical to assess and are of programmatic interest

  4. Whether to include anthropometric measurements to assess nutritional status

  5. The existence of relevant national nutrition programmes that may be monitored, such as fortified food product coverage or quality

Decisions concerning survey protocol, budget, and timeline:

  1. The desired precision of estimates for the main survey indicators within each stratum

  2. Sample size calculations and sampling frame

  3. The method of collection data (paper-based or electronic)

  4. Biomarkers* and clinical indicators to assess micronutrient status, and methods for their analysis

  5. Supplies and equipment required to conduct the training, fieldwork, and laboratory analyses

  6. Logistics for implementing fieldwork and for transporting and storing samples and specimens

  7. Development of the survey tool modules, including questions on programme/process, output, and outcome indicators

  8. The protocol for managing data

  9. Plans for the fieldwork training and pilot testing

  10. Compensation for participants, if applicable (money, food products, or other)

  11. The ethical approval process

  12. Report writing

  13. Dissemination to ensure use of the data

*In this context, a biomarker is a biologic indicator of micronutrient or related health status.