Counting all the things


Since it’s all the rage to talk about measurement in aid and development projects these days I thought I’d share an indicator that I just found in a national AIDS strategy:

Outcome: fewer people have sex under conditions that could impair their judgement. % of [people] who had sex when they were drunk or when their partner was drunk reduced from 4% to 2% for women and 5% to 2% for men [over 8 year period].

Some questions:

  • How do we measure if people were drunk (or their partners were drunk) reliably? What is drunk? How far do people have to think back?
  • What tells us that we know what to do to achieve the hoped for changes (4-2% for women; 5-2% for men)?
  • What tells us that we can achieve a bigger change in men than women?

I’m not saying impaired judgement isn’t a factor. I’m not saying tackling alcohol use is a bad idea for health programmes.  This critique can be cut and pasted for a bunch more indicators in the same document.

I’m just wondering why on earth we bother making promises we don’t know how to keep and measure them in ways that lack any credibility.



Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s