What is SENS?

At UNHCR, ensuring good nutritional outcomes in refugee populations is a priority. Our programmes rely on having good data to deliver effective and timely interventions to improve outcomes. UNHCR’s Public Health Section has collaborated with multi-sectors to develop guidelines for the crucial collection of nutritional and health information from refugees, which is the UNHCR Standardised Expanded Nutrition Survey (SENS) guidelines, or more commonly called the SENS guidelines.

SENS guidelines is a multi-sectoral survey tool which covers demography, nutrition, public health, food security, energy, WASH, and malaria prevention. It’s aimed at standardising the way annual nutrition surveys are conducted by UNHCR health and nutrition partners to provide high quality data. Since the launch of the first version in 2011, there have been more than 600 surveys conducted worldwide, and there are more surveys in collaboration with MoHs, WFP and UNICEF covering both refugee and host populations.


What is New?

The SENS version 3 methodology was updated in 2019. Recent changes in international guidance and in ensuring compatibility with partner organization’s frameworks, this is especially true for the Food Security module with WFP and in ensuring consistency with internal methods e.g. the WASH and the Demography modules. It has been translated into French and adapted for Mobile Data Collection (MDC).

Together with CartONG, we also updated tools for MDC, including how to set up the questionnaire in both off-line and on-line settings, and managing the data. New functions are added to improve the quality of data too, including calculating and flagging automatically the acute malnourished children which is expanded from UNICEF’s tool on flagging SAM children to cover both MAM and SAM children, and tools for standardization exercise on anthropometric measurements.

What’s more, the data from SENS has up until now been captured only in individual survey reports, recorded in a centralized database and UNHCR Annual Global Report. Recognizing the importance of sharing this data more widely in a visual form to improve public as well as regional and country accessibility, the visualized SENS Data Dashboard developed with CartONG is a newly available feature on the SENS website now. The data for indicators on nutrition, food security, etc. can be easily accessed online for our colleagues, partners, donors, and the public for programming and advocacy.

The website aims to be a one-stop-shop housing all of the guidance, tools, and data dashboards. If you have any question, please contact HQPHN@unhcr.org.



We are going to organize a series of webinars to introduce and train how to use the new version of SENS, as well as new MDC tools . These webinars are open for audiences who already have experience in running the SENS or SMART survey. If you are interested in, please fill in this survey: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/3CC8XM5. Thank you!


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