Shaping the future: Our strategy for research and innovation in humanitarian response.

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This innovation was first supported by the HIF in 2015 to be developed and tested. Now, with a Diffusion grant, the HIF continues to support HelpAge scale up their rapid assessment method for older people.


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.


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).


Development & testing:

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.

Read the project report

HelpAge are now working to scale this innovation but you can read the final project report from the first stage of their project. This report provides information on the project methodology, activities, outputs, impact and dissemination of learning.


This project aims to ensure that humanitarian and development projects are inclusive of older people through easily-collected, reliable evidence-based data. The project also aims to include RAM-OP in the list of assessment tools for older people used by the World Health Organisation (WHO) and this incorporate it within a sector-wide global, best practice framework. This project will also expand the impact of the RAM-OP tool by translating it into Arabic and French and by developing a digital/mobile application.

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Latest Updates

RAM-OP Coming of Age in Bangladesh and Pakistan

15 Mar 2019

After their workshop in Ethiopia in June, HelpAge took their RAM-OP workshops to Bangladesh and Pakistan in December


Rapid assessment method for older people opens eyes in Africa

1 Aug 2018

At the end of June, HelpAge International and partners organised a two-day workshop in Ethiopia’s capital Addis Ababa to train various UN, NGO and government organisations on how to use our innovative Rapid Assessment Method for Older People (RAM-OP).


HelpAge are awarded a HIF Diffusion Grante to further scale their RAM-OP innovation.

1 Apr 2018

HelpAge are awareded a HIF Diffusion Grant to further scale their RAM-OP innovation.


Including older people in needs assessments

26 Oct 2017

A lot of data is collected in the humanitarian space but specific information about older people is still very limited.


(Article) RAM-OP: A rapid assessment method for assessing the nutritional status, vulnerabilities, and needs of older people in emergency and development settings

1 Mar 2015

In this article, published in Field Exchange, the team compare a prototype RAM-OP with the SMART method in a pilot in an urban/peri-urban setting in Ethiopia.


RAM-OP: why you should use it

24 Nov 2015

HelpAge International’s Emergency Humanitarian Health and Nutrition Adviser, Pascale Fritch, gives her insights on their newly launched innovation.


Comparing RAM-OP with SMART

16 Dec 2014

Two field tests were carried out, each comparing RAM with the SMART method.


Comparing RAM-OP with SMART from the first field test

03 Dec 2014

The first field trial of the RAM-OP method is undertaken in Kolfe Keranyio, a sub-city of Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.


RAM-OP Field Testing

14 Oct 2014

HelpAge International, Valid International and Brixton Health are developing an innovative method of assessing the needs of older people in emergencies, including their nutritional needs


Preparation visit in Tanzania

24 Sept 2014

The next RAM-OP field test is going to take place in Tanzania: Kibaha District Council, west of Dar es Salaam. This district is largely rural.


RAM-OP: Preparation visit in Tanzania: 1: Looking for maps and population figures

11 Aug 2014

The next RAM-OP field test, coupled with a classic SMART survey for comparison, is going to take place in Tanzania, in Kibaha District Council, west of Dar es Salaam.


RAM-OP: getting ready for the second field test

3 Jul 2014

After testing the method in a highly urbanised area (Addis Ababa, Ethiopia), we wish to carry out the next field test in a different context.


RAM-OP: needs assessment results

3 Jun 2014

We want to share with you the results of the needs assessment done in Kolfe Keranyio, a highly populated sub-city of Addis Ababa, Ethiopia


First field test completed in Addis Ababa

18 Mar 2014

In the team's first field test a total of 889 people were interviewed, aged between 50 and 102, and including 568 women.


Related Resources

Report Disabilities, Food Security & Livelihoods, Information Management, Communication & Technology, Nutrition

Final Report: RAM-OP

Article Information Management, Communication & Technology

RAM-OP: A rapid assessment method for assessing the nutritional status, vulnerabilities, and needs of older people in emergency and development settings

Article Information Management, Communication & Technology

Progress report: RAM-OP

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