Objective: To test a survey method for estimating the coverage of selective feeding programmes in humanitarian emergencies.
Methods: The trial survey used a stratified design with strata that were defined using the centric systematic area sample method. Thirty 100 km2 quadrats were sampled. The communities located closest to the centre of each quadrat were sampled using a case-finding approach.
Findings: The method proved simple and rapid to implement and allowed overall and per-quadrat coverage to be estimated. Overall coverage was 20.0% (95% confidence intervals, 13.8-26.3%). Per-quadrat coverage ranged from zero (in nine quadrats) to 50% (in one quadrat). Coverage was highest in the quadrats closest to therapeutic feeding centres and in quadrats containing major roads leading to the towns in which therapeutic feeding centres were located.
Conclusion: The method should be used, in preference to WHO Expanded Programme on Immunization (EPI)-derived survey methods, for estimating the coverage of selective feeding programmes. Its use should also be considered when evaluating the coverage of other selective entry programmes or when coverage is likely to be spatially inhomogeneous.