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

Hannah Tappis, Shannon Doocy, Christopher Haskew, Caroline Wilkinson, Allison Oman, Paul Spiegel

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


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.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)150-160
Number of pages11
JournalFood and nutrition bulletin
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jun 2012



  • Humanitarian intervention
  • Malnutrition
  • Refugee
  • Supplementary feeding
  • Therapeutic feeding

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Food Science
  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Nutrition and Dietetics

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