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10 Keys to Developing a Culture of Better Information Use

This poster was prested by Francis Opio at the Consortium of Universities for Global Health (CUGH) Conference in Washington, DC on April 8, 2017.

What is SPRING?

The Strengthening Partnerships, Results, and Innovations in Nutrition Globally (SPRING) project is dedicated to strengthening global and country efforts to scale up high-impact nutrition practices and policies. SPRING provides state-of-the-art technical support focused on preventing stunting and maternal and child anemia in the first 1,000 days, linking agriculture and nutrition, and creating social change and behavior change through communication.

Why is Information Important to SPRING and Similar Projects?

  • Accountability/reporting
  • Contribution to global evidence base
  • Country use of information for program improvement

Challenges to Using Information Well in a Global Nutrition Project

  • Theory of change for nutrition impact is complex—large number of indicators for reporting and not enough resources for indicators for program improvement
  • Variety of approaches used across multiple sectors—lack of indicator standardization makes cross-country comparability difficult or impossible
  • Not possible to do baseline data collection in some countries—outcome evaluations often outsourced to other organizations
  • Changing indicator definitions at the global level
  • Weak capacity and limited resources in some countries
  • Nutrition information not typically captured in national HMIS or other sectors’ information systems (sometimes need to set up parallel project-based systems)

What Does SPRING's Monitoring, Evaluation, Research, and Learning (MERL) Function Encompass?

  • Overall project performance monitoring plan (PMP) aligns with the project results framework
  • SPRING countries have PMPs and comprehensive MERL plans, aligned with their results frameworks, mission frameworks, and the overall project results framework
  • Excel-based systems and country-specific systems capture, report, and analyze routine country data
  • Surveys and other evaluation activities capture outcome data

10 Keys to Developing a Culture of Better Information Use

  1. Start with a good theoretical framework and SMART (specific, measurable, agreed upon, realistic, time-based) objectives
  2. Build in MERL systems from the beginning
  3. Integrate MERL into program planning and implementation processes
  4. Build local capacity to reduce need for external support
  5. Invest in quality systems
  6. Remember that not all determinants of success are “technical”
  7. Don’t let reporting needs drive the system
  8. Keep It Simple & Smart (KISS)
  9. Embrace new (appropriate) technologies
  10. Be willing to be self-critical

Final Vision

  • High Quality MERL Systems In Place
  • Strong Program Management and Reporting
  • Improved Programs
  • Improved Nutrition Outcomes
10 Keys to Developing a Culture of Better Information Use