Module 1. Planning and designing a micronutrient survey

Oversight committees for planning and implementation

Developing overall objectives of the survey

Defining the stratification and scope of the survey

Using anthropometry

Factors in micronutrient survey design and protocol development

Obtaining ethical approval


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.

Comprehensive lab supply list

List contains the specifications of laboratory supplies and the contact details of suppliers


Equipment and Supplies List (single worksheet)

General spreadsheet enables the user to calculate a rough cost of the supplies and tests needed for a survey


Generic Budget

Spreadsheet template used to generate a basic micronutrient survey budget (useful for initial survey planning)


Generic Detailed Budget

Worksheet to develop a detailed survey budget


Generic Timeline

Gantt chart showing specific phases of the survey and when they will be complete


Initial Planning Checklist


Protocol - generic nutrition survey

Outlines all sections to be included in the survey protocol with information on what to consider for each section


TOR for survey contracting company

Terms of reference for a company that will be used to coordinate the survey


Kyrgyzstan national survey report (2013)

Survey report from Krygyzstan


Malawi Micronutrient Survey Protocol

Survey protocol developed for the 2015 Malawi national micronuturient survey


Malawi national survey report (2009)

Survey report from the 2009 suvery in Malawi


Malawi overview roles and responsibilities

Document outlining the roles and responsibilities of people involved in the Malawi 2009 survey


Micronutrient Survey Concept Note

Example of a 1-4 page concept note for a micronutrient survey


Nepal national survey report (2015)

Final report from the survey in Nepal


Tanzania national survey report (2015)

Survey report from the fortification assessment coverage survey conducted in 2015


Uganda - baseline supplies single worksheet

Supplies spreadsheet used for the nutrition survey in Uganda


Zambia national survey report

Survey report from the survey in Zambia