Monitoring and Evaluation

Deep dive into our methodologies.

Most Significant Change

Most Significant Change is a technique used for evaluating complex interventions adopted by cutting-edge organizations that integrate continuous learning as an aspect of accountability.

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Consumption and expenditure surveys

Consumption and expenditure surveys are used at the household level to determine the approximate income of business owners before and after they participate in the program. They are based on consumption recall, in which an interviewee is asked to determine amounts of food, semi-durable (medicines, soap, etc.), and durable (furniture, plates, etc.) items they have purchased over certain periods of time. For food items, a one-week recall period is used, and data collectors go through an extensive list of locally available foods. Semi-durable goods, such as medicine, shampoo and soap, are recalled over a one-month period, as these items are usually consumed during 1-2 months. Finally, durable goods, which are mainly large purchases such as furniture, land and school fees, are recalled over the past year. Through these different products and recall periods, we approximate actual income based on current prices. After graduation, we collect new consumption expenditure data to capture any changes in the sampled group.

The World Food Program developed the Food Consumption Score (FCS) to be used to assess nutrition at the household level in a less complex manner more suited to complex development settings. The FCS is a composite score that is based on dietary diversity, food frequency and relative nutritional importance of different food groups. This methodology is standardized, efficient, suited for complex settings and simple to use, and allows for comparability of nutrition and food security across regions and countries.

The FCS is calculated using the food items section already in place in the C&E survey. We simply added the question about food frequency (days per week) that food was eaten to come up with the FCS composite score.

The FCS is calculated in three steps. The first step consists of asking a household respondent about a certain food. Every food is categorized and assigned a weight by the World Food Program. Then the respondent is asked about the number of days that food was consumed in the past one week (seven days). Through Open Data Kit (ODK is an open source suite of tools to manage field data), the different foods weights are multiplied by the days the food was eaten to come up with the composite score. Each household then has a score for food consumption. The shifts we see are more dramatic because they are shifts in a composite number, rather than a hard number like meals per day or protein per week.

“One of the lessons of modern research is so simple and human: the power of hope to ease poverty.”

Nicholas Kristof, New York Times, “The Power of Hope is Real”, May 21, 2015