Background: The 2011 Uganda Nutrition Action Plan (UNAP) established 2016 maternal and child nutrition targets. However, there is a lack of routine district-level data collection to assess UNAP implementation.
Objective: To use Nutrition Innovation Lab (NIL) data to inform policy makers on the progress of UNAP-related indicators.
Methods: The NIL collected serial household-level survey data (n = 3600) in 6 districts, including 2 UNAP implementation districts, in 2012 and 2014. Questionnaires focused on food security, nutrition, and health, among others, and included specific indicators relevant to UNAP’s targets.
Results: In 2012, outcomes in Kisoro and Lira districts were below national average for some UNAP key indicators, including dietary diversity and anemia prevalence, but above average for others (exclusive breastfeeding and underweight among women and children). The prevalence of child stunting was higher than national averages in Kisoro but below national averages in Lira. In 2014, anemia among women and children decreased significantly. Kisoro also saw improvements in several other UNAP target indicators including underweight, breastfeeding, and stunting.
Conclusion: Although the study showed improvements in key UNAP indicators, there is a need to invest in appropriate methods to gauge its progress because the NIL was not designed to assess UNAP. Since the quality of implementation of complex multisectoral programs can differ widely across different contexts, it is critical that effective monitoring of progress be part of such programs. National endorsement of nutrition plans doesn’t in itself result in desired outcomes, hence, the allocation of scarce resources has to be based on rigorous evidence.