Introduction

This report is a summary of a workshop organized by the Committee on Population to discuss data collection priorities for the design, monitoring, and evaluation of population and health programs in developing countries. The workshop was held September 14–15, 1995, at the National Academy of Sciences in Washington, D.C. The main purpose of the workshop was to assist the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) in considering its information needs to support its population and health programs.

The workshop was timed to coincide with the preparation of USAID's new strategic plan for population, health, and nutrition and the early stages of design of a new "results package" for data collection and evaluation to support the strategic plan. Nevertheless, the agenda was designed to strike a balance between addressing USAID's immediate concerns and addressing more general issues related to measuring the effectiveness of population and health programs in developing countries. The workshop participants explored current and future information needs for population and health programs, examined various widely used methods of data collection, and considered a number of innovative ideas for obtaining data to strengthen program design and monitoring. The report should be of interest to government officials in both developed and developing countries, officials of other international agencies and donors, and researchers studying public health, nutrition, and population policies.

Several participants at the workshop gave presentations based on short papers that they had prepared. This report provides a summary of the background



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--> Introduction This report is a summary of a workshop organized by the Committee on Population to discuss data collection priorities for the design, monitoring, and evaluation of population and health programs in developing countries. The workshop was held September 14–15, 1995, at the National Academy of Sciences in Washington, D.C. The main purpose of the workshop was to assist the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) in considering its information needs to support its population and health programs. The workshop was timed to coincide with the preparation of USAID's new strategic plan for population, health, and nutrition and the early stages of design of a new "results package" for data collection and evaluation to support the strategic plan. Nevertheless, the agenda was designed to strike a balance between addressing USAID's immediate concerns and addressing more general issues related to measuring the effectiveness of population and health programs in developing countries. The workshop participants explored current and future information needs for population and health programs, examined various widely used methods of data collection, and considered a number of innovative ideas for obtaining data to strengthen program design and monitoring. The report should be of interest to government officials in both developed and developing countries, officials of other international agencies and donors, and researchers studying public health, nutrition, and population policies. Several participants at the workshop gave presentations based on short papers that they had prepared. This report provides a summary of the background

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--> papers and oral presentations, the comments of the discussants, and the general discussion at the meeting. For clarity of presentation, some of the material has been reordered so that points now appear under particular subject headings and not merely in the chronological order in which they were raised at the meeting. The intention of the workshop was not to produce a consensus or a set of recommendations, but to stimulate critical discussion of a wide range of possibilities by a multidisciplinary group of experts. Hence, not all participants can be assumed to have agreed with all the statements reported here. All attendees participated as individuals and not as representatives of their institutions. Full paper titles and contact addresses of the authors can be found in the Appendix; copies of the papers can be requested directly from the authors. The next four sections of the report summarize the proceedings from the four main sessions of the workshop. In the first session, participants discussed USAID's new strategic plan and the agency's changing population health information needs. In the second session, participants discussed the strengths and limitations of the survey approach for monitoring, evaluating, and planning purposes. In the third session, participants examined data needs for evaluating the impact and performance of population and health programs. In the fourth session, participants discussed ways to improve capacity building for data collection and analysis in developing countries. A final section of the report summarizes some of the main themes that emerged at the workshop.