The Global Fortification Data Exchange (GFDx)
held a series of workshops to explore how data and user-centered design can support food fortification. Food fortification is the method of adding critical nutrients to foods we already eat, an established and cost-effective solution to the global problem of micronutrient deficiency, also known as hidden hunger. Workshops were held between June and November 2018 in countries across Asia, Africa, and the Americas.
Key individuals working in nutrition and food fortification in a given country came together to ask through the lens of design thinking: What would an ideal data system look like for food fortification, and how do we get there? The approach was elucidating.
Participants used design methods, including (1) empathy mapping: to understand the thinking and behaviors of users – in this case fortification stakeholders – and (2) journey mapping: to visualize both the current status of the country’s fortification data system and the ideal, future state of that system.
The response from workshop participants has been resounding: Integrating design thinking into data systems development has the potential to generate insights and breakthroughs to better reach and engage data users and thus support informed food fortification programs. Key individuals in food fortification in a given country found that working together through these approaches facilitated a shared vision of effective data systems to address country-specific challenges in food fortification.
The objectives of the workshops were to understand how countries use (or don’t use) data to improve their fortification programs, to identify gaps where information can inform the fortification program, and to plan an ideal data system – all by applying the methods of user-centered design.
Those working in food fortification know well the importance of systematic data to support food fortification. Accessible and rigorous data is critical to effective nutrition programs, across all areas from monitoring of food fortification laws, to regulation of food production and distribution, to tracking the status of nutrient levels among the population.
But data is only as useful as it is accessible and practical to the right users. Data can inform policy and programs – and ultimately impact populations – most effectively when designed to engage stewards in collection, usage, and decision making.
User-centered design has the potential to unlock innovative solutions to support system transformation in food fortification, and may have lessons to offer the broader nutrition and global health data communities as well.
GFDx is a global public good with the purpose of housing and harmonizing data from around the globe to empower evidence-driven food fortification programs.
GFDx is managed by the Food Fortification Initiative (FFI), Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition (GAIN), Iodine Global Network (IGN), and Micronutrient Forum. Workshops facilitated by ThinkPlace, an Australian company applying user-centered design to support system transformation.
For more information on the GFDx, visit the site
. To get involved in the GFDx or for more information about the Workshops, contact the GFDx Secretariat
. Join us, and follow the launch of GFDx V2 – an expanded set of data and indicators slated for early 2019.