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A Cost of the Diet assessment follows a logical process from identifying the food security and nutrition problem, collecting and analysing data, through to report writing, including recommendations and conclusions.


The figure below gives an overview of the tasks and information required before and during a Cost of the Diet assessment. The Cost of the Diet Practitioner's Guide explains each of these steps in more detail.


Figure 1. The Cost of the Diet Process


The timeframe for a Cost of the Diet assessment will depend upon the length of data collection. Use the following timeframe as a rough guide:


           Week 1:      Background literature review
           Week 2:      Recruit and train staff, identify markets, write a food list
           Week 3:      Collect market data, conduct interviews and FGDs
           Week 4:      Enter, clean and analyse data
           Wks 5 & 6: Write report


CotD Staff Requirements:


Assessment Leader

This individual commissions an assessment based on an understanding of why and where it is needed as a result of knowledge of the local environment and its effects on food production, diet, nutrition and livelihoods. The Assessment Leader typically works in the field of food security and/or nutrition.


CotD Practitioner

This individual can also be the Assessment Leader (same person), but may be a hired consultant or a senior member of staff. The Practitioner trains the data collectors, oversees data collection, analyses the data and writes the final report. Depending on the knowledge and capacity of the agency or country office commissioning the assessment, the Practitioner maybe required to provide support planning the assessment, such as defining the objectives and the scope of the study. It is recommended that assessments be conducted by certified Save the Children ​Practitioners. This will ensure that the data are collected, analysed and reported to a consistent standard. To become a certified Cost of the Diet Practitioner an individual is required to attend a Practitioner’s Training, lead an assessment on their own and send the data and the final report for review by staff at Save the Children UK. Practitioners receive an official certificate.


Data Collectors

These individuals will be hired locally from the specific assessment area and will speak the local language. Data Collectors collect the market survey data, and conduct interviews and focus group discussions.


Assessment Administrator

This individual organises the recruitment of Data Collectors and makes practical arrangements for data collection. The Assessment Administrator should be based in and have a very good knowledge of the assessment area. If the assessment is being conducted in an area new to the agency, it may be necessary to identify and seek support from a local partner organisation. Duties include, but are not limited to, the following: 

  • Gaining permission from Food Market Managers to visit and interview traders
  • Booking the training venue, hotel and transport for the team
  • Ordering stationary and equipment