3.3 Objectives and indicators

Appropriate objectives and indicators for the emergency response should be established at the outset of the emergency response programme. Indicators should be established at the individual project level as well as the overall emergency programme level. A programme strategy should be developed at the outset of the response (refer to Chapter 32 Quality and Accountability) with overall programme objectives. This is also a good place to establish overall programme level monitoring indicators for the emergency response.

CARE’s humanitarian benchmarks and associated standards, such as the CI programming framework and Sphere standards, should be used as a basis for indicators. The good enough guide, Tool 9 (Annex 9.5 The good enough guide) also provides guidance on developing indicators. Most critically, the standards for indicators shown in section 3.3.1 should be considered.

Simple monitoring frameworks should be put in place for emergency projects. See Annex 9.6 Sample monitoring and evaluation framework, Annex 9.7 Sample indicators, and Annex 9.8 Sample monitoring checklist.

Checklist for indicators

Relevant The indicators should be linked directly to the programme objectives and to the appropriate levels in the hierarchy.
Technically feasible The indicators should be capable of being assessed (or ‘measured’ if they are quantitative).
Reliable The indicators should be verifiable and (relatively) objective. That means conclusions based on them should be the same if they are assessed by different people at different times and under different circumstances.
Usable People in the emergency response programme should be able to understand and use the information provided by the indicators to make decisions or improve their work and the performance of the response.
Easily communicated Using indicators that are based on common standards such as Sphere and/or those used host government makes monitoring information easier to understand by peer agencies, which is particularly useful for coordinating agencies.
Participatory The steps for working with the indicator should be capable of being carried out with the target community and other stakeholders in a participatory manner during data collection, analysis and use (refer also to Chapter 30 Participation).

Other criteria that can also be helpful in selecting indicators include:

  • Comprehensible: The indicators should be worded simply and clearly so that people involved in the project will be able to understand them.
  • Valid: The indicators should actually measure what they are supposed to measure, e.g. measuring effects due to project interventions rather than outside influences.
  • Sensitive: They should be capable of demonstrating changes in the situation being observed, e.g. measuring the gross national product of Uganda does not tell us much about the individual households in one district.
  • Cost-effective: The results should be worth the time and money it costs to collect, analyse and apply them.
  • Timely: It should be possible to collect and analyse the data reasonably quickly, i.e. in time to be useful for any decisions that have to be made.
  • Ethical: The collection and use of the indicators should be acceptable to the communities (target populations) providing the information.

When making a decision about what method to use and which indicators are appropriate, it is important to double-check that the information that you are gathering is going to give a realistic appraisal of what is actually happening, and how it should be used and presented.