In Context: SMART

By Falguni Vyas

July 3, 2012

The Standardized Monitoring and Assessment of Relief and Transitions (SMART) is a survey method developed by UNICEF and their partners based on the two most vital, basic public health indicators to assess the severity of a humanitarian crisis. The indicators are nutritional status of children under age 5 and the mortality rate of the population. Launched in 2005 and piloted in Ethiopia, the SMART evaluation was recently conducted in Haiti and shows a reduction in the rate of child malnutrition.

The two indicators that are used assess the needs of a country in crisis and help us to see what kind of assistance is most vital. Once relief programs have been put into place, SMART then monitors the extent to which a relief system is meeting the population's needs and helps us to see the overall impact of relief response.

According to UNICEF, SMART was created to improve the technical capacity of project partners to better carry out their work but has since become a critical tool in improving worldwide emergency evaluation.

Haiti has always been a country in need. Since before the earthquake, Haiti has been victim to government instability, hunger, poverty and various human rights violations. And, considering that Haiti is the third hungriest country in the world after Somalia and Afghanistan and that it is ranked 149 out of 182 on the UN HDI, the latest on child nutrition is a milestone to be proud of.

In 2005, one out of three Haitian children under the age of five were stunted or chronically undernourished. One out of ten was wasted and six out of ten were anemic. About a fourth of all children were born with low birth weights.

Since the earthquake, the SMART survey has shown improvements as a result of humanitarian aid specific to child nutrition. Stunting rates have decreased to 23.4 percent and severe malnutrition has decreased to one percent. The prevalence of underweight children has gone down from 18 percent in 2005 to 10.6 percent in 2012.