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5.4. Indicators

Project monitoring is often based on indicators. Indicators are concrete and observable signs that show that the project is progressing towards the intended change.

The indicators may demonstrate both the accomplishment of the project’s intended outcomes and the progress towards them. Both quantitative (how much, how often, what portion) and qualitative (what kind of, how, what) indicators can be defined for projects. When an indicator should indicate a change, such as quantitative growth, the starting point/  baseline should be determined and documented.

Example: “Literacy among 15-25 year old women has increased from 40% to 85% in four villages in the Chipata area in Zambia until the year 2010.”

Example: ”The women participating in the literacy circle of Bolgatanga, Ghana experience that their self-esteem has increased during the project period."

It is not possible or even practical to collect information about every possible issue. A long list of indicators is often prepared but in practice information is seldom collected on them. It is recommendable to prepare indicators together with the partner to ensure that the indicators serve their purpose and information will be collected during the project. Partner organisation in turn should involve beneficiaries or the right-holders in the preparation of indicators. An external expert and local people can have very different view on what best describes a specific change or development. For instance, for a doctor, a decrease of certain sicknesses in an area may best describe the improvement of healthcare, while for local people the availability of medicines as well as answers to their inquiries during a health centre visit could be most important.

The cross-cutting development objectives stated in the Finnish development policy should be considered in the preparation of indicators. For example, the changes concerning the roles of men and women must be clearly present in indicators to ensure that the achievement of decreased inequality can be monitored during the project.