9.3 Selecting the Right Indicators will Streamline Monitoring & Evaluation Efforts, Provide a Base of Comparison with Other Programs, and Reduce Reporting Errors.

Several presenters at the 2011 GYEOC highlighted the importance of selecting the right types of indicators. Designing an M&E plan begins with a theory of change, results chain or other model that helps designers identify the outputs and outcomes that will lead to program impact. Selecting SMART indicators, as described in Box 9.2.1, will facilitate M&E.

Common indicators across the YEO and other related fields are time-tested and assist in comparing results across programs. For example, food security programs might use standard FANTA indicators. Income, assets, and consumption indicate expenditures and are all common indicators; however, M&E experts warn that triangulation is necessary as income can be difficult to measure in many countries and might not reflect positive trends. The Population Council in their asset-building program in South Africa (see Chapter 7) used the interim indicator of cell phone ownership or possession as a proxy for assets or income.

9.3.1 Practical Tips: Improving Objectives Related to Financial Capability

The YouthSave Consortium has learned the importance of creating SMART indicators that are specific enough to narrow in on the outcomes the project seeks to achieve. It’s important to brainstorm indicators and transform initial ideas into concrete and measureable outcome indicators.

  • The objective, “Youth will be more financially literate” is too vague.
  • Transform into “Youth will understand how to make a savings deposit.”
  • Why? Because it is generally agreed that making a savings deposit is a concrete action related to financial capability.
  • The objective, “Youth will have greater economic security” is too subjective. What does economic security mean? Does this mean having enough money to meet basic needs or something else? Also, this is not an achievable outcome because youth economic security is affected by so many other factors outside of the control of the intervention.
  • Transform into Youth will have one or more long term goals for saving and a plan for how they will begin to save.
  • Why? It’s possible to measure if youth have one or more goals and a plan. Also, it is reasonable to think that we can help youth come up with these goals and plans during the course of our project.)

Finally, be sure to ask the group of youth you’re working with if they think they are outcomes they want for themselves.