To describe the design of a four-country monitoring system to track a community-based multi-sector agriculture-for-nutrition-and-health (A4HN) project in Africa, focussing on how it was used to improve project implementation.
To develop a framework to monitor the implementation quality of a complex A4HN project, we drew on HKI experiences, existing tools, and a multidisciplinary team’s expertise. Focussing on key outcomes and intermediate steps identified by the project theory of change, we developed harmonized horticulture, poultry production, nutrition and health behavioural indicators spanning multiple levels of implementation (i.e., household, community) and collected via a mobile-phones and a cloud-based platform and iteratively revised after each round. Through this system, we collected data at 2-3 time points for each country (total n=3,043). Mean and frequency distributions across zones, time points, and activity exposure were examined to access reach and quality of implementation and behavioural outcomes.
Our results show how monitoring can inform changes to project implementation. For instance, a limited knowledge of sick-child feeding among beneficiaries led to increased focus on this issue in communication plans, and lower-than-expected levels of outreach by community volunteers motivated renewed trainings and revised supervision and motivation plans. Conversely, encouraging signs that contact with project behaviour-change communications activities resulted in increased knowledge and better care practices among beneficiaries and signs of temporal increases in project coverage were useful for motivating staff and partners.
Through a theoretically founded, harmonized approach that harnesses digital technology, project monitoring can be successfully used to improve implementation of multi-sector A4HN projects in real time.