Paula Reed Lynch

Deputy Office Director for Policy and Resources Planning

Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration

Department of State


Introduction to SMART Workshop

American Red Cross

July 23, 2002


Good Morning.  I will be very brief.


I am neither a technical expert, nor a nutritionist.  I work policy and budget issues for the Department of State’s Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration (PRM), the source of about half of the U.S. Government’s humanitarian assistance each year. 


We need basic data in order to know where we are doing our job, and where we are falling behind.  We have supported other standard-setting efforts, such as the SPHERE project, and are very happy to have supported USAID’s extraordinary push to make this workshop on nutrition surveys happen. 


I am told that you, as a group, may have the greatest level of experience in epidemiology and nutrition in humanitarian emergency settings that has ever been assembled.  I am told that this meeting probably should have happened ten years ago – or earlier.   So, you are an august group, and we are now here.


We all recognize that we have an obligation to know – from the facts – how well we are doing in providing assistance and protection to refugees, internally displaced persons, victims of conflict, and victims of natural disaster. 


We can measure our success– and flag the need for corrective measures – in the provision of life-sustaining assistance to victims, including potable water, sanitation, food, and health care at international standards.  But we do not measure it regularly, and we do not measure it in the same way.  And that leaves us stuck in mush.  And ignorant.


At the same time, we must develop ways to measure that victims of humanitarian disasters are protected – both in terms of their human rights and in terms of physical security.  Protection is critical to assess as we measure how well we are providing humanitarian assistance.  Protection and assistance are inextricably linked – protecting populations that are starving does them little good, and failing to protect populations receiving assistance lead us to the so-called “well-fed dead”.


There are many measures, or indicators, that are important to track if we want to successfully address the full range of humanitarian needs in a population.  But we must also focus on a bottom-line indicator that we can use for the entire population, and in all situations.  Many of you have actively confirmed that this indicator is legitimately the combination of under-five nutritional status and mortality rates. 


Your job this week is to set the standard for gathering the data necessary by agreeing on a simple methodology for doing a nutritional and mortality survey.  In order to be successful,


·        Please keep in mind that you only have three days, even if we are all tempted to listen to each other’s experiences for three weeks. 


·        Please keep the focus on under-five nutrition and mortality – that is already sufficiently challenging as a goal.  The survey you agree on will not be a mega-survey that collects all data needed on a population.  Humanitarians will be doing other data gathering in addition to this. 


·        Please keep your methodology simple, so that it does not require an advanced university degree to collect the data.  If it is simple, a survey can be conducted more frequently.


·       And please have fun – learning from each other, and providing the humanitarian world with a new basis for taking humanitarian action.


Thank you.





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