About the program
and this web site
The Standardized Monitoring and Assessment of Relief and Transition
program is an interagency initiative to improve monitoring and evaluation
of humanitarian assistance interventions. Specifically, the program
will pilot an approach to routinely collect, analyze and disseminate
information on the nutrition and mortality experience of populations
served by humanitarian interventions.
The program will also provide implementing agencies and the broader
humanitarian community with a wider range of tools to support humanitarian
program assessment, monitoring and evaluation.
This website serves two key purposes:
- First, the site serves as an organized workspace and knowledge
repository to be used by core organizations and individuals involved
in this program.
- Secondly, the sites serves the specific needs of the information
management working group. The charge of this subcommittee is to
design a toolkit that will enable implementing agencies to collect,
analyze and use relevant data; in addition, the committee will
elaborate an approach for the analysis and dissemination of program
field data to the wider humanitarian community.
Description of SMART Initiative
What is SMART?
is a voluntary, collaborative network of organizations and humanitarian
practitioners that includes donors, policymakers, and leading experts
in emergency epidemiology and nutrition, food security, early warning
systems, and demography. It includes all humanitarian organizations:
donors, international and UN agencies, NGOs,
universities, research institutes and governments.
addresses issues of common interest to many organizations:
- The need to standardize methodologies
for determining comparative needs based on nutritional status,
mortality rate, and food security.
- The need to establish comprehensive,
collaborative systems to ensure reliable data is used for decision
making and reporting.
advocates a multi-partner, systematized approach to provide critical,
reliable information for decision-making. It is establishing shared
systems and resources for the humanitarian community.
Why is SMART needed?
is a lack of:
- Coherent understanding of need
due to the use of many methodologies.
- Consistent, reliable data for
making decisions and reporting.
- Technical capacity to collect
and analyze reliable data.
- Comprehensive, long-term technical
support for strategic and sustained capacity building.
SMART methodology is critical to improving worldwide emergency assessment.
The SMART methodology, with a comprehensive technical support system,
will fundamentally reform and harmonize system-wide emergency responses
- policy and programming decisions
are based on reliable, standardized data
- humanitarian aid is provided to
those most in need
SMART methodology is based on Crude Death Rate (CDR) and Nutritional
Status of Children Under-Five. These are the most vital, basic public
health indicators of the severity of a humanitarian crisis.
They monitor the extent to which the relief system is meeting the
needs of the population and the overall impact and performance of
the humanitarian response.
seeks to institutionalize evidence-based policy making and reporting
on humanitarian crises.
- A standardized methodology for
assessing needs that will provide comparable data between countries
and emergencies to prioritize resource allocations.
- Technical support to build capacity
for real time, standardized and reliable data for decision making.
This will facilitate timely, appropriate assistance to those in
- Reliable data for performance
and results reporting, and trend analysis of humanitarian situations
using mortality rate and nutritional status. This will improve
understanding of the effects of our assistance.
- Quick access to reliable data
critical for decision making and response to enquiries.
- Harmonize Needs Assessments: Develop
a standardized SMART Methodology to determine needs, monitor and
report on overall progress and trends.
- Systematize Data Compilation,
Analysis and Reporting: Establish the Complex-Emergencies Database
(CE-DAT), a searchable database for rapid access to standardized,
validated data on mortality, morbidity and nutritional status.
- Build Capacity: A comprehensive training and technical
support system to ensure host governments and other partners collect
and use reliable data. A
tiered system, from graduate MS/MPH program to short courses tailored
to meet various needs will be pilot tested in English, followed
by a French version in collaboration with African universities.
The support system includes a virtual library, a list serve and
rapid response service to support field surveys.
- Research and Upgrade: Iterative
upgrading of the SMART Methodology based on new findings, best
practices and emerging issues. Close knowledge gap and establish
standards for overall vulnerability assessments and recommendations
SMART METHODOLOGY VERSION
Harmonize Needs Assessments
July 2002 SMART workshop, attended by 45 humanitarian organizations,
recommended the development of a standardized methodology to assess
nutritional status and mortality rate. They are considered the
most basic, vital public health indicators of the severity of
a crisis, and useful to identify need and monitor the overall
impact and performance of the relief system.
provided funds, and the development work was coordinated by UNICEF/USAID.
SMART methodology was developed over a two-year period by a core
expert panel drawn from CDC, universities, NGOs and UN partners,
with leading experts in emergency epidemiology and nutrition,
food security, early warning systems, and demography.
methodology parameters were reviewed by a group of technical partners
in Brussels, July 2004, before drafting started. Drafts were circulated
in late 2004 and early 2005. Action Against Hunger (Chad) and
FAO (Somalia) conducted/are conducting pilot tests of the nutrition/mortality
methodology and the analytical software program. Their experience
will be discussed at the SMART Meeting, June 23 – 24, 2005. The
food security component is “work in progress” in Version 1.
SMART methodology brings coherence to needs assessments and addresses
emerging issues such as dynamic population movements.
SMART methodology integrates three critical data points for assessing
need in complex crises: mortality, nutrition, and food security.
It draws from
core elements of several methodologies and current best practices
in assessing nutritional status, mortality rate, and food security.
It is iterative,
with continuous upgrading that is informed by research and best
practices. Version 1 is the primer for assessing nutritional status
and mortality rate. In this version, the food security component
is “work in progress.”
analytical software program and its standardized reporting format
simplify the tedious process of data entry and analysis. The built-in
data quality assurance feature eliminates data entry errors.
users are host government partners and humanitarian organizations.
The methodology’s level of difficulty is a conscientious balance
between simplicity (for rapid assessment of acute emergencies)
and technical soundness.
COMPLEX-EMERGENCIES DATABASE (CE-DAT)
Systematize Data Compilation, Analysis,
core function of the SMART initiative is a multi-sourced, searchable
database that has been established by the Centre for Research on
the Epidemiology of Disasters (CRED), Brussels, with funding from
the U.S. Department of State, Bureau for Population, Refugees and
several excellent conflict databases exist, they focus on political
and legal aspects. None of them provide a comprehensive picture
of the human impact of conflicts in terms of mortality, morbidity
and nutrition. Neither is there a central source for data on protracted
complex emergencies, which require long term monitoring. CE-DAT
provides a “one-stop shop” for commonly accepted indicators of health
and nutrition status in conflict situations.
accessible database that is a compilation of quantitative and qualitative
information from numerous credible sources, linked to existing conflict
the human impact of conflicts by compiling and ranking (based on
data source and reliability) all available data related to the health
status (mortality, morbidity and nutritional status) of conflict-affected
a special emphasis
is placed on collecting data reflecting a conflict’s long term health
consequences on Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) and Refugees
CE-DAT will serve
as SMART’s primary data source for trend analysis, policy recommendations,
monitoring and reporting, and impact briefings.
provide this unique data collection to the humanitarian community,
CE-DAT simultaneously developed a web-based interface. This interface,
fully functional today, allows any user to extract data according
to the user needs. This is provided free of charge and on-demand
analyses are also regularly performance. For example, CE-DAT has
proven useful to monitor and analyze updated mortality data in Darfur,
complements the Emergency Database (EM-DAT), the International Disaster
Database, which is funded by USAID’s Office for Disaster Assistance
(OFDA). CE-DAT is the authoritative source for world disaster data,
including the World Disaster Report, the UNDP Global report on natural
disasters, and the ISDR/Living with Risk publications.
(e) Capacity building
& TECHNICAL SUPPORT
Build Capacity to Collect and Analyze
order to maintain and sustain the SMART community of practice, a
mechanism for technical support and networking is being planned.
This will include:
a comprehensive training system
for improvement of SMART Methodology based on research and best
subject matter experts, advisory group meetings, and applied research
to countries to collect and analyze data. Support system:
SMART website at
that will be incrementally expanded to include chat room, etc
on health, nutrition, food security and related topics
and rapid response system served by a technical expert group to
guide and review surveys, and respond to technical enquiries from
Comprehensive training system:
- A sustained, comprehensive training
and technical support strategy will build capacity at all levels,
in particular at the country level.
- The capacity building strategy
utilizes two principal elements, the creation and maintenance
of electronic toolkits for field workers, initially and later
decision-makers, policy makers, etc. and building a training system.
- Training will be tailored to meet
the needs of various organizations – from short term certification
course, long distance, or integrated into graduate MS, MPH, and
- The notion of a training system
is that it is sustainable to ensure that learning opportunities
for SMART methods are widely available and incorporated into on-going
For example, Tulane University proposes to establish a SMART
University Cooperative of universities in different parts of the
world that agree to incorporate SMART methods into their graduate
curriculum. Tulane and other members of the Cooperative already
offer graduate degrees in evidence-based humanitarian practice (MS,
MPH, doctoral) that will be articulated with SMART certificate training
activities in the field and specific course modules offered by distance
methods. The Cooperative will include key universities from the
developing world. SMART methods capacity building will focus on
capacity building within developing countries, in cooperation with
local universities and institutes.
References to SMART
United States Government Accountability Office. Darfur
Crisis: Death Estimates Demonstrate Severity of Crisis, but
Their Accuracy and Credibility Could be Enhanced, Report
to Congressional Requesters, November 2006.
"In addition, the NGOs that conduct mortality surveys in
Darfur do so primarily to monitor conditions in the camps they
serve, and they generally do not disseminate the survey results.
To address this problem, CE-DAT was established in 2003, under
the Standardized Monitoring and Assessment of Relief and Transitions
(SMART) initiative, to provide quick access to accurate and reliable
data needed by humanitarian decision makers. However, the usefulness
of the database is limited, because NGOs are not reporting the
survey results systematically and because the quality of many
of the reported surveys is problematic."
Ralte, Anne (USAID). SMART: a collaborative approach to
determining humanitarian needs, Humanitarian Exchange,
Humanitarian Practice Network at ODI, Number 32 December 2005.
"The way in which humanitarian needs are defined and prioritised
can mean the difference between life and death for millions
of the world’s poorest people. It is,therefore, critical
that donors and humanitarian organisations invest effort and
resources to ensure that our understanding is as accurate as
possible, and programmes are directed to those most in need.
Responses to emergencies require a consistently accurate picture
of the scale and nature of the problems people face. Decisions
should be informed by that understanding. But until now there
has been no system-wide framework for judging the relative severity
of situations. This may change with the Standardised Monitoring
and Assessment of Relief and Transitions (SMART) initiative."
- Task Force on Hunger (UN Millennium Project) included
a discussion of SMART vis-a-vis the urgent need to strengthen
early warning systems. See the section: Build and strengthen national
and local early systems, page 147:
"Further developments include the Standardized Monitoring
and Assessment of Relief and Transitions initiative, which seeks
to standardize methods and approaches for measuring and documenting
the effectiveness of humanitarian responses by measuring child
malnutrition and mortality, as well as food security indicators,
against benchmarks. Such initiatives, aimed at raising transparency
and enhancing the effectiveness of international action, should
similarly inform and assist national action."
- The Humanitarian Policy Group at the Overseas Development
Institute (ODI) did a study on needs assessment and decision
making in humanitarian assistance. The study was commissioned
by the Montreux group of donors, funded by DFID, ECHO and AusAID.
SMART is included as it advocates the use of shared, reliable,
standardized benchmark indicators among donors and humanitarian
organizations. See page 55 of document:
“This study supports the use of mortality and under-five
nutrition as key bases of analysis, and in that sense believes
the SMART initiative to be important, especially in its attempts
to build consensus around methodology.”