RAM-OP (rapid assessment method for older people)

Organisation: Help Age

Partners: Valid International, Brixton Health

Location: UK/Ethiopia

Type of grant: Core – development

Status: Completed

  • Michael Kanyingi Kimuhu (58) [L] talks with Elisabeth Wambutu (103) [centre], at Mrs. Wambutu's daughter in law's home in a village near Thika in Kenya's Central Province on August 16, 2013.

  • Ashagre ademso is 65 years old and has HIV. He has been abandoned by his family and lives alone in this one room in Awassa, Ethiopia on Monday, 5th May, 2008. Helpage International supports two local partner organisations in Awassa to assist elderly people who are either living with HIV or who have dependent grandchildren as a result of their parents dying from HIV.

  • PASTORALIST DIDA GUYO BUBA,75, FROM THE BORE BORE REGION OF BORENA SOUTHERN ETHIOPIA WHO HAS LOST OVER 200 CATTLE TO THE SEVERE DROUGHT. PICTURED BEHIND IS ONE OF HIS FEW REMAINING WEAK CATTLE/ 21/4/06 - see case studies

  • Interviewing an older woman in Tanzania

  • interviewing a grandmother (Tanzania sep 2014)

  • explaining the visual acuity test Tanzania Sep 2014

  • measuring middle upper arm circumference (MUAC) Tanzania September 2014


Summary: RAM-OP is a rapid assessment method for measuring the nutritional status and needs, and other related factors that affect older people in humanitarian situations. It includes a questionnaire, a sampling method, and software for data analysis. It needs to be finalised and tested to produce guidelines. It will allow humanitarian workers to gather evidence on the nutritional vulnerability of older people in emergencies and plan the response accordingly.

Challenge(s) addressed:

  • In emergencies, older people are rarely identified as a vulnerable group by ministries’ officials, non-governmental organisations or donors. Surveys and assessments largely focus on children, pregnant and lactating women. As a consequence, little information is available about the nutritional status and the needs of older people in emergencies, and these needs are thus going unaddressed.
  • Humanitarian workers often argue that the methodology for assessing the nutritional status of older people is costly and complicated. There is a need for more cost effective methods than the traditional SMART surveys.

Innovation Factor: RAM as a product is innovative because of its rapidity in providing statistically robust and precise information for humanitarian programming compared to currently used assessment methods.

Innovation Phases Description:

  • Performance of RAM will be tested alongside that of traditional survey methods, specifically that of the cluster method used in SMART. Performance of RAM and SMART will be assessed using criteria adopted from the framework for assessing the appropriateness of assessment methods proposed by Sacket and Holland (1975), Beaton and Bengoa (1976) and Jelliffe and Jelliffe (1969) and further developed by Myatt et al (2006).
  • After the launch of the RAM-OP and its manual, HelpAge and its partners will monitor the use of this new method by carrying out electronic surveys targeting NGOs and ministries (done through Valid and HelpAge’s networks of local partners and through the Global Nutrition Cluster).

Key Deliverables / Impact: A rapid assessment method (RAM) to assess the needs of older people is needed in order to encourage and enable humanitarian organisations to identify the specific needs of this vulnerable group. This survey method would require less time, fewer staff, and would be less costly than the usual methods. RAM-OP can be used in both emergency situations and development contexts. It is hoped that by offering a simplified and cost-effective approach to nutritional surveys, humanitarian workers will be encouraged to consider older people and their needs, and, having a thorough knowledge of their nutritional needs, will implement appropriate feeding programmes targeting older people.


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