Nutrition Program Design Assistant

Date of Design: 
CORE Group. Nutrition Working Group
Contact Institution: 
Pathway Component: 
Caring Capacity & Practices, Food Access, Food Expenditure, Health Care


Brief Description: The Nutrition Program Design Assistant: A Tool for Program Planners (NPDA) is composed of a Workbook and a Reference Guide. Together, they help program design teams select the most appropriate community-based nutrition approaches for their target area. The Workbook provides step-by-step instructions and is where the team records key information, data, decisions and decision-making rationale. Upon completion, the Workbook provides a record of the design process. The Reference Guide provides an introduction, information on key concepts and terminology, and reference material to guide decisionmaking. 

Uses: The NPDA helps teams determine whether implementation of a community-based nutrition program is warranted; identify potential causes of undernutrition and key intervention areas; and select the most appropriate approaches within a given target area. 

Tool Components: The NPDA documents include the following steps to guide teams through the design process:

  • Step 1: Gather and Synthesize Information on the Nutrition Situation
  • Step 2: Determine Initial Program Goals and Objectives
  • Step 3: Review Health and Nutrition Services
  • Step 4: Preliminary Program Design: Prevention
  • Step 5: Preliminary Program Design: Recuperation
  • Step 6: Putting It All Together


Number of Staff Required: Not specified; the tool is intended to be used by program design teams and the number of staff included on a team will vary.

Time: Not specified; this will depend on availability of data and the number of staff dedicated to the exercise. 

Cost of Assessment: There is no primary data collection required for the use of this tool. The time/salaries of the program design staff will be the bulk of the cost associated with the use of this tool.

Training: Not specified; it is assumed that the program design team will be capable of analyzing data and completing records. 

Geographic Targeting: The NPDA helps teams select nutrition interventions for a given target area; the geographic targeting process precedes the use of this tool. Note that the focus is community-based approaches.

Type of Data Collection: The team will review secondary data that will focus on:

  • Nutritional status: Anthropometry
  • Infant and young child feeding
  • Maternal nutrition
  • Micronutrient status of children
  • Underlying disease burden 

Degree of Technical Difficulty: There is no training associated with this tool and limited technical explanations within it. It is assumed that the staff using the tool are already nutrition specialists; the tool provides the necessary structure to design a program and does not explain basic nutrition concepts. However, the NPDA is clearly formatted and should be simple to complete for staff with existing nutrition expertise. 

Complements other Resources: The NPDA relies on consolidation and synthesis of existing nutrition data. This would complement tools focused on primary data collection, serving as the next step in program design. Additionally, this tool focuses exclusively on nutrition programming; using the NPDA in conjunction with food security or WASH tools could provide a more comprehensive set of intervention options.

This summary is part of a larger resource called the Context Assessment Tool Locator.