1. What is RAN

  2. What is RAN useful for?

  3. When is RAN carried out?

  4. Who is RAN for?

  5. How is RAN structured?

  6. How long does RAN take?

  7. What materials are required?


1.  What is RAN?

RAN is formed from the words: Rapid  Assessment of Nutrition for Nutrition Relevant Projects/Programs in Developing Countries

RAN is an exploratory survey for initial assessment of the absolute poverty and the nutritional situation of a population group living within a defined geographical area.

In RAN, statistical data, as well as opinions, are collected, and both types of information are compiled. In the analysis and presentation of data, the principle prevails that the information from which opinions are formed is complementary to statistical data and is equally valuable.

Sometimes the collected data cannot be brought into harmony at first sight, but may even appear to be contradictory. This inconsistency can be misleading, causing exclusive priority to be given to one point of view, while the other points of view are neglected.  The instrument RAN should help to avoid this "one sided" interpretation.


2What is RAN useful for?

has the objective of identifying a potential project location, rapidly assessing the existing local nutritional situation and related poverty factors of selected communities in order to plan/recommend measures to improve the nutrition situation and to alleviate poverty.

RAN involves an analysis of the existing situation to induce a systematic clarifying and decision making process. Therefore it does not aim to first to come to agreement or to built up a homogeneous picture, but to present the complexity of the reality, which can differ a lot, depending upon the point of view and the interest of the observer. The planning team has the task to use all information sources available and to systematize the collected information. Thus it is important to analyze the situation from different point of views. In detail, RAN includes

In summary, it is therefore possible :

         to determine the factors responsible for the nutritional problems and related poverty factors by using survey methods (quantitative approach),

         to obtain the perception of the potential target population on their poverty and nutrition situation (qualitative approach),

         to collect information on the considerations of decision makers at the national, provincial and local levels on strategies of poverty alleviation and nutritional security regarding the project/program area (political approach)

The Rapid Assessment of Nutrition - RAN -  does not aim to obtain quantitatively assured data.  For this purpose, a baseline survey should be used later (at the beginning of the project implementation phase). The main purpose is to obtain basic data for the project and for further decision making about nutrition related objectives/strategies. It provides an initial basis for the later implementation of a nutritional baseline survey.


3When is RAN carried out?

The starting point of a project is the project idea. Once the project idea is evaluated to be relevant and realistic, and an organization is interested in further follow up of the idea for project development, RAN is the instrument to be used for Project Identification, because it combines the assessment of secondary data, official opinions and the perception and expectations of the potential target groups. Furthermore, this pre-feasibility study may include alternative analyses and suggestions about the project goal, possible interventions, and resource allocations.

The overview presented in following figure shows how RAN is integrated into the project identification phase of the Project Cycle of a Nutrition Intervention / Poverty Alleviation Project.

                               Project Cycle for
        Nutrition and Poverty Oriented Projects/Programs

Project Phase                                                           Instrument

      Project idea

       Project                                                                     RAN

    Decision about purpose of nutrition/poverty project/program

Project design                                              BASELINE SURVEY and
(conceptualization)                                           participatory planning

           Decision about project strategy


       Desired project impact

A project starts with a project idea and ends when the jointly-planned project impact has been reached. The project life-time can be subdivided into phases, such as identification, conceptualization and implementation.


is an instrument for the project identification which should be carried out right at the beginning of a project, after the formulation of a project idea.


4Who is RAN for?

The guidelines are aimed primarily at specialists assigned to conduct a feasibility study of a new nutrition relevant project. This usually refers to an interdisciplinary team, such as nutrition specialists, agricultural specialists, forestry experts, health experts, and sociologists.

The assessment team should include local specialists, assigned by the institution(s) that will implement the project. Expertise of the local conditions, political and cultural, as well as mastery of the local language of the target group, is essential for the feasibility study.

Specialized knowledge on quantitative research methodology is required, as well as experience in qualitative and participatory appraisal methods and analysis of information.

External facilitator(s) may be necessary to provide the know how for guiding the interdisciplinary team during the feasibility study, detailed analyzing and final report writing.


5. How is RAN structured?

RAN occurs in three steps:

     Step 1         Data collection at capital and provincial/district level (government, institutions and NGOs)

     Step 2         Collection of information in a predefined urban or rural community/area (local government and NGO representatives, and people)

     Step 3         Data analysis and preliminary report for discussion with representatives of relevant national organizations


6.  How long does RAN take?

This type of rapid assessment usually takes no more than three weeks.  Of course, the time required depends primarily on the:

The scheduling of a assessment must allow enough time for individual and group reflection. Too often there is the danger of overemphasizing data collection and thereby neglecting the learning and identification process.

The scheduling of RAN must include time for the gathering of information from all of the following sources:

At the end of the assessment, a short report summarizing the fact-finding is produced and discussed with representatives of the organizations that will likely be involved in the project.

The most time-consuming and painstaking part is undoubtedly the assessment among the communities. Although transportation and living conditions among the most needy groups are often poorly developed, this important part of the assessment must not be neglected due to time constraints. In order to record the broadest possible diversity of situations, four or five communities with the greatest possibility of  heterogeneity (ethnic, socio-economic, infrastructure situation, etc.) should be sought out to assess the variability of the living conditions in the proposed project area.

The following chronological diagrams present two examples for scheduling the activities in rural (Fig. 2) and urban areas (Fig. 3).  If communities in urban areas are to be identified and investigated, the time required is shorter because fewer travel days are needed.  At least two specialists  from different disciplines should be engaged in the RAN mission. As the topic of relevance and interest are identified in "question guides" prior to the assessment and tasks are distributed between team members, several persons or groups can be interviewed at the same time. In the example given here, an exploratory mission in a rural area will take a total of 19 days.  Time taken for activities which do not need to be carried out at the potential study site, such as

are not included in this example.

Two examples of the chronological order of a survey in a community are presented below.

Fig. 2 Scheduling of activities for a finding mission in a rural area

Mo Tu We Th Fr Sa Su Mo Tu We Th Fr Sa Su Mo Tu We Th Fr Sa     
Search and study of literature                                                
Search and study of reports from international organizations                                            
Collection of information at national government offices                                            
Talks with representatives of government offices and NGOs                                             
Analysis of information                                            
1st interim report                                            
Travel to provincial or district capital                                            
Talks with local representatives of government offices and NGOs                                            
Analysis of information                                            
Selection of 4 rural communities                                            
Finalization of questionnaires*                                            
2nd interim report                                            
Travel to the selected communities                                            
Assessment in the 4 communities                                            
Return travel to the capital                                            
Initial analysis of the survey, preparation summarized report                                            
Discussion with relevant organizations                                            
Detailed analysis                                            
Final report                                            

* Finalization of questionnaires according to Appendices 1 "Selected observation and questionnaires"

Fig. 3 Scheduling of activities for a finding mission in an urban area *

Mo Tu We Th Fr Sa Su Mo Tu We Th Fr Sa Su Mo     
Search and study of literature                                      
Search and study of reports from international organizations                                  
Collection of information at national government offices                                  
Talks with representatives of government offices and NGOs                                   
Analysis of information                                  
Selection of 5 urban communities                                  
1st interim report                                  
Finalization of questionnaires**                                  
Assessment in urban communities                                  
Initial analysis of assessment and preparation of summarized report                                  
Discussion with relevant organizations                                  
Detailed analysis                                  
Final report                                  

* Because in urban areas heterogeneity among communities is often greater than in rural ones, assessment of 5 communities is recommended.
** Finalization of questionnaires according to Appendices 1 "Selected observation and questionnaires"


7.  What materials are required?

In accordance with the concept of a rapid assessment, the use of equipment should be kept to a minimum. However, the following items should be taken into the assessment area:

  1. Multiple copies of the adapted questionnaires/discussion guides and the survey/analysis forms. The blank Survey Forms (SF-1 to SF-12) as well as the Analysis Forms (AF-1 to AF-6) are available here. Other languages (French, Spanish) can be obtained from GTZ. The forms should assist the surveyor documenting and analyzing the data. The forms should be modified and adapted to meet the needs of the current assessment team before to take to the field.

  2. A portable microcomputer for direct data entry and preliminary analyses of the data. The NutriSurvey program of this homepage can be used to analyze the anthropometric data of the schoolchildren.

  3. A Microtoise measuring tape (Holtaine)  for recording the body stature of schoolchildren