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Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations develops capacity of staff at The Agency of Statistics to collect nutrition data of women at the Sughd Region of Tajikistan

 A team of nutrition assessment experts led by Dr. Warren T K Lee, Senior Nutrition Officer of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), Rome, visited the Sughd Regional Office of the Agency of Statistics under the President of the Republic of Tajikistan (AoS) from 27 April to 1 May 2015. The visit was to provide a capacity development training course for AoS staff in the Sughd region to use a food-based assessment tool (Minimum Dietary Diversity Women, MDDW) in collecting nutrition information of women at reproductive age. The course was attended by 19 AoS staff enumerators from the Northern region of the country. Three days of the course were devoted to lectures, group exercises, adapting the tool to the local context through focus group discussions with key informants from local jamoats and districts. The final two days were devoted to field trips with hands-on experience on conducting MDDW data collection.

“Given the high prevalence of micronutrient deficiencies in women at reproductive age and childhood stunting, The government of Tajikistan needs a simple and validated food-based indicator to monitor diet quality of women, to set nutrition targets and to evaluate impacts of nutritional interventions,’’ said Dr. Lee. AoS aims to integrate a nutrition component into the annual Household Budget Survey by 2016. Following the success of a dietary diversity training course and a pilot data collection in the Khatlon region in 2014, FAO has been requested by AoS to provide further training for local staff in the remaining parts of the country to collect nutrition data. “Tajikistan will be the first country to receive training in using the brand new MDDW to collect food-based information at country level since its inception in 2014,” said Dr. Lee.

MDDW was upgraded from the previous ‘’Women Dietary Diversity Score (WDDS)” in 2014. MDDW is a simple, fast and low cost global indicator in evaluating dietary diversity of women. It is a 10-point food group indicator equipped with a universal cut-off point at five food groups to indicate minimum dietary diversity. “MDDW counts the number of food groups consumed by a person over the previous 24-hr preceding the test. When women eating five or more food groups are more likely to meet the minimum dietary diversity than women eating less than five food groups,” said Dr. Lee. The trained AoS staff will begin to collect pilot MDDW in the Sughd region, using the fully adapted questionnaire, the week after the training.

Other members from the FAO MDDW capacity development team are Dr. Claudia Lazarte Pardo, Dr. Sabir Kurbanov and Mr. Khurshed Mayusupov. This training course has received funding from the European Union through the “Improved Global Governance for Hunger Reduction Programme.”