Translate Page

HOME     //     OUR RESULTS     //     LESS GUESS Blog

Strategic use of data

Strategic use of data refers to the use of data throughout the entire program cycle to make decisions about program design, shape advocacy messages, and improve program implementation and management.

Distinctive features of Alive & Thrive’s approach to data use

  • Measurable goals with country teams held accountable for achieving targets while being encouraged to innovate and adapt as necessary to get results
  • Early evaluation design allowing for implementation of a rigorous impact evaluation
  • Frequent collection of outcome data to understand whether interventions are likely to have an impact
  • Adequate resources for monitoring, learning, and evaluation, ranging from 12 to 19 percent of in-country costs

Process

Data-informed decisions drew on various sources and types of data.

  • Program design: published research, formative research, and national surveys
  • Roll-out: pilot studies, feasibility studies, and operations research
  • Implementation: routine progress monitoring and outcome monitoring
  • Evaluation: baseline, process, and end line

Results

  • Data-driven program design to: a) deliver previously proven nutrition interventions, taking advantage of research data, b) address suboptimal IYCF practices based on survey data, and c) promote behaviors that formative research highlighted as acceptable and feasible for mothers to practice.
  • Program adjustments in response to data with frequent data on service delivery outputs and estimated coverage

Lessons

  • Effective implementation requires frequent data from a variety of sources. Scientific literature, nationally representative surveys, formative research, and routine information systems are needed to manage large-scale programs and adapt them to achieve maximum impact.
  • Timing of data collection matters. Relying on baseline and end line data is not sufficient to inform decision making. Investment in a variety of data is required to make data available to managers in “real time” or as close to it as possible to encourage strategic use of data.
  • Data can wield considerable convening power.  Sharing data facilitated discussions with policymakers in Viet Nam, served to build consensus about priority IYCF behaviors to promote in Bangladesh, and shaped opinions about the direction of nutrition programming in Ethiopia.