While the evidence base for integrated SBCC is growing, more evidence is needed to solidify its role and importance in development programs. In addition to a general need for more evidence SBCC program integration is worthwhile, there is a need for broader research that informs the design and implementation of future integrated SBCC programs and supports decisions about funding. Building this evidence base will help improve integrated SBCC programming and reduce negative unintended consequences, as well as build confidence in the use of integrated strategies. Some of this research can be folded into existing approaches to program impact evaluations, while other research may require stand alone studies, meta-analysis or comparative studies.
Seeking stakeholder consensus for RM&E of an integrated SBCC program is important to set research priorities, allocate appropriate resources, select and harmonize indicators, facilitate sharing and utilization of data, agree on reporting mechanisms (including how to prevent double counting), and disseminate findings.
As this consensus is reached, all stakeholders should have a clear understanding of the implications of integration on what will be required to effectively monitor and evaluate the program. For example, an integrated program may need to track more indicators than a vertical program would, because it addresses a broader range of health issues. The data collection and analysis may also be more complex, requiring multiple data sources and, therefore, additional resources.
It is important to let partners know early what kinds of information will be needed and which partners may need to be responsible for each (e.g., service delivery partners for service statistics or referral data, media partners for message dissemination data, community outreach partners for activity and event data, private sector partners for sales data, and so on). Collecting referral and service delivery data could be more challenging for integrated SBCC efforts if different programs or organizations collect and manage different parts of the data needed. For example, the reproductive health program manages the family planning service data while the MNCH program manages the child health data. As integrated programs complicate the “chain of custody” of the data, partners must agree on who collects which data, how, and how often, as well as how to share, analyze, and report on it.
Open access to data can help technical and managerial stakeholders track progress more easily, without having to always rely on their RM&E teams. This may take the form of a Routine Health Information System (RHIS), where SBCC, service utilization and other data is collected from health facilities and consortium partners on a routine basis and then aggregated into a single database. A dashboard function would allow stakeholders and technical and management staff to track progress and make course corrections, if necessary, as well as see how different program components are moving together. Such systems require significant buy-in from the government, and a high degree of ownership and coordination from various sectors.
RM&E should be on the agenda of all coordinating body meetings. There may also be a need to create additional working groups or task forces for RM&E. When creating such teams, involve those with quantitative as well as qualitative experience, those with expertise in the respective vertical health areas, as well as those with experience in program integration to the extent possible. Ensure all topical areas are represented, and clearly articulate roles and responsibilities.
While the RM&E section is placed at the “end” of this I-Kit, thinking about it and planning it by no means should be left until the end of your program. RM&E begins at the earliest planning stage, and plays a critical role throughout the design and implementation stages. Because this integration of research into program activities is so critical, we have introduced much of this information in the previous sections. See Design, for example, for more information on formative Research.
FHI360 has developed Guidance for Evaluating Integrated Global Development Programs. While this document is not specific to SBCC or health, its recommendations are useful for both. Many of the recommendations in this section have been adapted from this resource.
– (Source: FHI360)
“Making all programming data (not just sector-specific) available to technical and programmatic staff and organizing reporting of program-wide achievements can tease out some of the added value of integration… On a set schedule, program monitoring data should be presented and discussed among program staff and stakeholders. Discussions of the data with monitoring and program staff across integrated sectors or activities can illuminate further what has been found and what needs to be further measured. From these discussions and presentations, decisions can be made about the need for more qualitative lines of inquiry to discern sources of the problems or where best practices are found.”