Use of the Database

This database serves as a reference document for use throughout the international family planning/reproductive health (FP/RH) community. Although funded by USAID, it applies to FP/RH programs sponsored by a variety of funding agencies, governments, or NGOs worldwide. Specifically, the database provides a menu of indicators to be used selectively as part of the evaluation of national programs, regional programs, and country projects. We stress that no program or project would ever attempt to use all indicators presented. In fact, for routine monitoring purposes, program managers and evaluators should select a few relevant indicators that are both important to program objectives and easy to collect and interpret. If organizations need more feedback, then they can conduct special studies to evaluate the programs' performance in areas of particular interest to staff. In this case, organizations should stagger these special studies to minimize their research burden.

The indicator descriptions presented herein are designed to promote standardization of definitions and concepts among the international RH community. Whereas standardization is useful, organizations should adapt indicators to their specific circumstances. This approach not only ensures that the indicators are relevant to the organization in question, but promotes ownership of the monitoring and evaluation process. However, organizations that choose to adapt (modify) indicators should clearly state the new definitions and methods of measurement.

This database aims to improve program evaluation for the purpose of strengthening health seeking behaviors and service delivery in national FP/RH programs (as well as in regional programs or in specific projects) of a given country. Its purpose is not to generate a report card that pits one country against another for future funding consideration. Although this resource encourages the consistent use of definitions and terms across countries or programs, socio-economic and cultural context in which programs operate differs greatly by country or region. Whereas cross-national comparisons on certain variables are inevitable and may, in certain cases, be useful, the results obtained for these indicators for FP/RH evaluation are subject to misuse if evaluators and program managers do not interpret them in a country- specific context. In most cases, comparing indicators for a given program over time will be more productive than using the indicators for cross-national comparisons.

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