United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees feeding program performance in Kenya and Tanzania: a retrospective analysis of routine Health Information System data

Food Nutr Bull. 2012 Jun;33(2):150-60. doi: 10.1177/156482651203300209.


Background: The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) Health Information System is a primary source of routine nutrition program data and provides a comprehensive assessment of UNHCR selective feeding programs in more than 90 refugee camps in 18 countries worldwide.

Objective: To evaluate the coverage and effectiveness of UNHCR supplementary and therapeutic feeding programs for malnourished children under 5 years of age in Kenya and Tanzania refugee camps.

Methods: Analysis of Kenya and Tanzania refugee camp population, growth monitoring and nutrition program data from the UNHCR Health Information System.

Results: UNHCR-supported implementing partners in Kenya and Tanzania admitted nearly 45,000 malnourished refugee children in selective feeding programs between January 2006 and May 2009. Average recovery rates of 77.1% and 84.6% in the therapeutic and supplementary programs, respectively, mortality rates of less than 1%, and average readmission below 5% suggest that feeding programs had a beneficial effect on enrolled children.

Conclusions: Increasing admission and enrollment in supplementary feeding programs was successful in preventing cases of severe malnutrition in some camps. Further attention to these camps would be likely to yield sizeable benefits in terms of absolute reductions in malnutrition prevalence and mortality rates.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Body Weights and Measures
  • Child Development
  • Child, Preschool
  • Developing Countries*
  • Female
  • Food Services*
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Information Systems
  • Kenya / epidemiology
  • Male
  • Malnutrition / diet therapy*
  • Malnutrition / epidemiology
  • Malnutrition / physiopathology
  • Malnutrition / prevention & control
  • Prevalence
  • Program Evaluation
  • Refugees*
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Secondary Prevention
  • Severity of Illness Index
  • Tanzania / epidemiology
  • United Nations
  • Warfare