| Community Nutrition Action for Child Survival |
|Part II - Planning nutrition action projects|
|Unit 4: Planning nutrition action projects|
In this session, trainees identify critical information required for monitoring and evaluating project progress. They also discuss the methods for collecting this information and its analysis and use by project managers and the community.
Time: 2 hours
- Handout - "Planning for Project Evaluation"
- Trainer's Reference - "Common Indicators of Change"
- Flipchart and marking pens
1. Introduction: Trainees have now completed the following steps in project planning:
- Describing the Problem
- Writing Goals and Objectives
- Choosing Activities
- Developing a Work Plan
In this session, we will discuss planning for evaluation. Evaluation is an on-going activity during project implementation. It is important to plan for evaluation so that the information we need to assess our progress can be collected during project implementation.
2. Distribute the Handout - "Planning for Project Evaluation" and review it point by point.
3. Developing indicators: Write the definition of indicators on the flipchart:
Indicators are the concrete, observable facts that serve as evidence of project progress.
The handout gives examples of indicators for a nutrition program that includes growth monitoring and immunization activities. Trainers should use other examples of project goals and objectives with trainees to practice deciding on appropriate indicators. Indicators can be related to completion of activities, to changes in knowledge or practice and to changes in health and nutrition status. The Trainer's Reference - "A List of Common Project Indicators" can be used for these additional activities and made available to trainees for future reference.
4. Collecting information: Ask trainees to brainstorm to collect the information they need to monitor and evaluate nutrition activities and results. Refer to the indicators identified in 3. above, and ask trainees what information they would need to measure each one and how they might collect that information.
- Baseline information collection
- Client records
- Worker/clinic reports
- Summary reports
An important element of the project evaluation plan is a description of the methods for recording and analyzing critical information about project activities and results.
5. Community involvement: Emphasize the importance of community/beneficiary involvement in project evaluation. When deciding on ways to collect and analyze critical project information, managers should describe how community members/project beneficiaries will be involved.
6. Summary: Review the steps for developing an evaluation plan stated on the handout. Put the following key phrases on the flipchart.
- Review goals, objectives, and activities
- Select indicators of change
- List specific information needed to measure indicators
- Determine who should collect this information and how it will be collected
- Decide how to analyze and use information
- Schedule specific monitoring and evaluation activities
PLANNING FOR PROJECT EVALUATION
In the previous sessions, we defined goals and objectives as the specific changes that we expect to occur as a result of a project. We also practiced planning activities that would lead to the accomplishment of these objectives. During project planning, we must also plan how to assess our project's progress once it is underway.
During the course of your projects, you will want to know if you are making progress toward meeting your objectives. By carefully monitoring progress, you will be able to make any necessary changes to keep the project moving forward. Monitoring is on-going evaluation of project activities and results.
Likewise, at the end of the project, you will want to determine to what extent the stated objectives have been reached. This end-of-project assessment provides extremely valuable information for future projects you may develop. If all of your project objectives are SMART (Specific, Measurable, Area-Specific, Realistic, and Time-Bound), and if you have carefully planned your activities, the task of monitoring progress and evaluating results is not difficult.
We measure progress by examining indicators. Indicators are the concrete, observable facts that serve as evidence of our progress.
For example, if one goal of a project is to improve the nutrition and immunization status of malnourished children, in a certain village, and activities related to this include regular growth monitoring sessions at the local health center and monthly mobile immunization clinics, important indicators of progress might include:
- Percent of children with monthly weight gain
- Percent of mothers producing and giving improved weaning foods
- Percent of children classified as moderately and severely malnourished
- Percent of children with complete or incomplete immunizations
When you write project objectives and develop and schedule activities to meet those objectives, it is helpful to be thinking about the indicators you will use to measure progress. By selecting your indicators of change at the beginning of a project, you will be able to establish systems for collecting the data you need to measure progress.
Information about project indicators can be collected in a variety of ways. These include:
- Client records
- Worker records
- Clinic records
- Interviews with clients, workers, community leaders, etc.
- Special surveys and studies
The indicators mentioned above for the nutrition monitoring program could be measured by:
- keeping a growth card with an immunization record for each child weighed;
- keeping a daily clinic record to collect information about the nutrition status and weight gain of all participating children;
- keeping a record of all immunizations given during mobile clinics; and
- compiling a monthly report that summarizes information on all children participating in the growth monitoring activity during the month (i.e., nutrition status, immunization received; etc.).
Information collected about project progress and results should be compiled and analyzed regularly. Managers must decide who will compile and analyze project information, when it will be analyzed, and how it will be used. Providing feedback to workers and planners is an important aspect of project evaluation. Involving beneficiaries and community leaders in the evaluation of project activities will enhance evaluation results and guarantee that steps are taken to correct problems at the community level.
The steps for developing a project evaluation plan are:
1. Review the project goals, objectives and activities. Make sure they are stated in measurable terms.
2. Decide which indicators of change (actions, concrete facts and observable evidence) you will need to examine in order to know if you are progressing toward your goals and objectives.
3. List the specific information you need to collect before, during and at the end of your project to confirm that change has occurred.
4. Determine who will collect the information and what methods will be used. Develop records and reporting forms.
5. Decide how information will be analyzed and used for monitoring and evaluation.
6. Schedule specific monitoring and evaluation activities (developing and testing forms, reporting, supervision visits, surveys, meetings, etc.).
COMMON INDICATORS OF CHANGE
- number or percent of malnourished children in project area
Nutrition-related Practices (compare periodically to baseline data)
- number or percent of children under five years who are breastfed until one year
Project Activities(compare to targets established in work plan)
- number of growth monitoring sessions and number of children under five years participating in each session