Data Demand and Use Successes Chronicled in Rwanda
In an effort to develop a collaborative and evidence-based approach to reducing the spread of HIV in Rwanda, Rwanda’s government has committed to strengthening systems to ensure decisions are being informed by accurate data. Starting in 2008, MEASURE Evaluation supported the government and other development partners to develop the country’s 2009-2012 National Strategic Plan for HIV and AIDS employing a results-based and data demand and use (DDU) approach to planning and program improvement. MEASURE Evaluation recently published a report, Improving Demand for and Use of Data Strengthens HIV/AIDS Programs in Rwanda, which details outcomes.
The participative process undertaken by Rwandan stakeholders “helped stakeholders understand where to prioritize their activities and it helped donors understand where to prioritize their funding,” says Andrew Koleros, Rwanda program advisor for MEASURE Evaluation, who supported the government in their strategic planning efforts.
As part of this support, local epidemiologic and programmatic data were reviewed, including modeling activities aimed at better understanding the Rwandan HIV epidemic. These analyses enabled the government to identify priority target groups for the next plan as well as identify risk groups for further research and surveillance activities when local data were not available. For instance, based on the analyses, a study investigating HIV risk behaviors among men who have sex with men (MSM) was conducted by the government in partnership with MEASURE Evaluation and the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS in order to fill a data gap.
Results from this study, the analytic reviews, and modeling exercises showed a need to develop new programs and strengthen existing ones for priority risk groups including MSM, sex workers, and sero-discordant couples. These new programs now enable the government to reach the most at-risk populations, in addition to maintaining its focus on preventing new HIV infections within the general population.
To continue incorporating principles of DDU into its work, the Rwandan government focuses on the best practices of engaging data users and producers, facilitating strong participation across groups working to stop the HIV epidemic, and using an integrative approach that combines multiple data collection and review methods.
Tara Nutley of MEASURE Evaluation, who supported the DDU approach in Rwanda, says the government’s commitment to working with key partners in regularly using data in the decision-making process was crucial to the program’s achievements. “They applied a comprehensive and collaborative approach, and that’s why their data use activity was so successful,” says Nutley.
The Rwanda DDU report is available at https://www.cpc.unc.edu/measure/publications/sr-12-66.