Strengthening Nutrition Information Systems

November 16, 2021

Strong nutrition information systems help governments collect, analyse and use nutrition data to make decisions that improve maternal and child nutrition.

This page contains resources and guidance for decision-makers related to nutrition information systems, including:

  • Guidance to support the development and implementation of national nutrition information systems (NNIS)
  • The District Health Information System (DHIS2) Standard Nutrition Module
  • The Administrative Data Guide on Nutrition
  • An overview of the UNICEF-WHO nutrition information systems project funded by the European Commission
  • Recommendations for shaping commitments to improve nutrition data and accountability put forth by the Nutrition Data Partners Group.


National Nutrition Information Systems Guidance:

An NNIS is a system for collecting, analysing, storing, and disseminating information to support decision-making relevant to nutrition programmes in a country. Despite the ability of a nutrition information system to provide objective information that can shape decision making and lead to improved nutrition outcomes, guidance on this topic was not previously available. This prompted the WHO-UNICEF Technical Expert Advisory group on nutrition Monitoring (TEAM) to fill this gap by creating the first ever global guidance on NNIS. The guidance consists of a five-module publication entitled “The Fundamentals Series” with two accompanying technical notes. Ten additional technical notes, with topics including Building a practical set of nutrition indicators, Costing, budgeting and financing, Reconciling and triangulating nutrition data, and Data Quality Assurance, will be released in 2022. An e-course is also available, which complements the information in The Fundamentals Series.

More information on National Nutrition Information Systems

Anthropometry data quality research priorities

Accurate data on child malnutrition is a key input for countries and other stakeholders to develop and implement policies and programmes. In 2019, the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and the World Health Organization (WHO) released guidance on the criteria and standards for collecting, analysing and reporting on malnutrition estimates in children under 5 years old. The guidance was developed by the UNICEF-WHO Technical Expert Advisory Group on Nutrition Monitoring (TEAM) Working Group on Anthropometric Data Quality using evidence-based information and practical experience. This has resulted in the strengthening of anthropometric measurement procedures in population-based surveys.

More information on Anthropometry data quality research priorities page.

The District Health Information System (DHIS2) Standard Nutrition Module

DHIS2 is an open-source, fully customizable software, with various pre-configured metadata packages to support adoption and use of the platform. Packages covering various health-related topics have been available for many years, although nutrition-specific programmes were not previously covered. To address this gap, the first-ever global DHIS2 Standard Nutrition Module was launched in early December 2021, providing countries with standardized metadata packages to strengthen data use and support nutrition monitoring efforts using routine administrative data for interventions focusing on children and women. An update of the package will be available in summer 2022.

The DHIS2 Standard Nutrition Module is available here 

The Administrative Data Guidance on Nutrition:

Routine monitoring of nutrition programmes using administrative data provides a detailed view of the nutrition situation in a specific location. By using consistent metrics, these data can be aggregated across multiple locations to provide a broader perspective on the nutrition situation. An Administrative Data Guide is under development, which will cover recommended maternal and child nutrition indicators to support countries in the design and implementation of routine administrative reporting systems for nutrition.

Guidance materials and further information will be available soon.

The European Commission Nutrition Information Systems project:

UNICEF and WHO, with financial support from the European Commission, are implementing a project to improve nutrition information systems and country capacity for the monitoring programmes and nutrition targets in five countries: Cote d’Ivoire, Ethiopia, Lao People’s Democratic Republic, Uganda and Zambia for a period of four years (April 2020 – March 2024). Through this project, UNICEF and WHO will support countries to:

  • Update their National Nutrition Monitoring Frameworks to fill major nutrition data gaps
  • Develop and/or refine routine administrative data reporting systems using updated data collection tools and digital data collection systems (e.g., DHIS2)
  • Enhance human resource capacity at all stages of the nutrition data value chain within a nutrition information system
  • Improve dissemination of data and information from nutrition information systems.

More information on the European Commission Nutrition Information Systems project.

Shaping commitments to improve nutrition data and accountability from the Nutrition Data Partners Group:

UNICEF, with the Nutrition Data Partners Group, a consortium comprised of United Nations agencies, donors and organizations working to strengthen nutrition data, has developed recommendations for shaping commitments to improve nutrition data and accountability in support of food, health and prosperity for all. These recommendations are intended for use by stakeholders at the 2021 Nutrition for Growth Summit (N4G) and provide key background information related to the certified N4G side event on Improving Nutrition Through Accountability and Data Systems.

More information on the Nutrition Data Partners Group recommendations for shaping commitments to improve nutrition data and accountability