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Determination of key participants

Information on who participates in critical activities can be derived from the same observational and questionnaire techniques mentioned above. With these instruments, one can determine the modal pattern as well as the range of variation. Conditions specified in figure 2, such as household size and composition, will affect this variability and attempts should be made to understand these associations. Tasks or activities usually performed by the same person or group may be those for which special skills or abilities that are not easily duplicated are needed. Foot ploughing, for instance, which is one of the most strenuous, sustained tasks in Nuņoa, is rarely done by women or children less than 17 years of age (Thomas, 1973a). It is, therefore, of interest to identify key participants without whom an activity could not be performed.

In populations where there is reason to believe that there is considerable variation in nutritional status among households, sampling from lower socio-economic levels or those sexage groups at higher risk (e.g. children and women in the childbearing years) serves as an appropriate starting-point. Quite obviously, energy expenditure has a more direct relationship to nutritional status for these segments of the population, and the severity of the problem is more readily assessed from this vantage-point.

Identification of those at risk can be carried out by two rather rapid survey techniques. The first technique attempts to rank households based on observable material possessions such as house form or roof type. Survey forms are designed to take into account variability of possessions found within a given community, and thus can provide relative ranking of households based on these criteria. The second survey technique is an anthropometric, nutritional assessment measuring height, weight, skin folds, and upper-arm circumference. Again, data obtained provide a relative ranking of nutritional status among individuals and groups in the population and permit identification of those segments at highest risk (Habicht et al., 1979; WHO, 1986).

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