I first started at HealthBridge in 1998. One of my first tasks was to revise and manage the field test of FRAT - Fortification Rapid Assessment Tool. FRAT was the brainchild of Sian FitzGerald (HealthBridge Executive Director and David Alnwick, then the Chief of Nutrition at Unicef). It was designed as a tool to rapidly evaluate the suitablility of foods for fortification (adding vitamins or minerals to foods) in the Global South. Salt, sugar, oils, and flours are commonly fortified foods. The tool would guide the user through a relatively quick evaluation of consumption patterns of the food of interest (who eats it and how much), and the market conditions and the industry conditions for the foods of interest. With partners we field tested FRAT in Brazil, Burkina Faso and Bangladesh. Based on the field tests we revised FRAT, submitted the reports to the donor (The MI) and... moved on. We had no funding to proceed further with it and so, we developed other projects and interests and forgot about it. In 2003, it was "revised" (given a title page) and posted on our webpage and... again forgotten about.
Then in 2009 I was contacted by Project Healthy Children who were using FRAT in their food fortification efforts in Rwanda and Honduras. I was thrilled to find out that this tool we had largely forgotten about was being used for real, and was appreciated by the users. I have since found out it has been used by HKI in about six west African countries. It has been expanded, revised, adapted to suit the users's needs, but the underlying concept is intact. In April I was at a workshop of the Monitoring, Assessment and Data (MAD) Working Group, a group of organizations working in nutrition programming and particularly food fortification. The Group was discussing the potential uses of HIES (household income and expenditure) and HBS (household budget surveys) and other such surveys for food fortification. One suggestion that will probably be followed up on is to use HIES data (which can identify which foods households are consuming) in combination with FRAT (to quantify consumption of key foods).
So often in our work it is not possible to know if there has been any useful or lasting impact from our efforts. Our works is often done in discrete units - completing a report, leading a survey, presenting at a conference - our developing guidelines, as in the case of FRAT. The work is done and then we move on the next piece, without knowing what good we have done. So it has been most gratifying to see that FRAT has actually been useful and may continue to be useful. So this encourages me, and it may encourage other people working in similar situations in seeming anonyminity, to always do our best in all our work. We really can not see the influence that our work will have downstream, and we want to be sure that it is done well and stands the test of time.