Developing a Data Collection Plan

The plan should be designed in the field and reflect the cultural differences, program objectives and operating conditions that have an impact on local management “realities.”

  1. Determine Objectives
  2. This has to do with how the information is to be used and by whom. Data has no intrinsic value unless it can be used to achieve some end. Do not collect data without specifying the action system it will serve. If people keep reporting information and never see any results, they will begin to lose trust.

  3. Determine the Data to be Collected and the Format
  4. The important test questions are:

    • How is the data to be used?
    • When is it needed?
    • What level of detail is needed?
    • What format is most useful for presentation?

    Monitors should have a standardized CARE format to capture all necessary information. Suggestions are provided below. The information should be mostly objective and easily quantifiable, such as physical counts, document verification, the absence or presence of storage and distribution materials.

    Monitoring staff should not be required to perform complex calculations, since errors could lead to information distortions. Some subjective observations and recommendations are an important link for project management to field conditions and operations, and space for such should be provided on standard formats. However, subjective data should be limited to the degree possible.

    Examples of Subjective and Objective QuestionsSubjective Objective

  5. Select the Sample Sites
    • Map the location and number of the sites
    • Set up the monitors’ schedule.
  6. Collect the Data
    • A representative sample of the waybills should be checked against inventory ledgers showing receipts and dispatches. The current balance shown in the inventory ledgers should be validated by a physical count of food in the warehouse.
    • The quantities of food actually received (as counted/weighed by the receiving site) should be compared to the quantities on the waybills and discrepancies noted.
    • Food removed from inventory as “unfit for human consumption” or “stolen” must be validated by examination of the loss reports and documents showing destruction of food. If any of the documents are considered to be suspect, the monitor must contact the issuing authorities to verify the documents.
  7. Field monitors must be able to trace all transactions of food movement from primary and secondary warehouses to the beneficiaries, and validate Documented information on distributions, inventory, accounting, and the identity and eligibility of recipients. Monitors must periodically witness actual food distributions for propriety, actual ration size distributed and inspection of storage areas.

  8. Summarize the Data
  9. Determine the percentage of sites that are operating acceptably and the percentage operating unacceptably, according to the sample.

  10. Look for Relationships and Differences
  11. Compare the results of the sample with the data from regular site reporting. Look for discrepancies.

Suggested Information to Collect

  1. General Information
    • Project name and number
    • Type of program: (such as school feeding, MCH, FFW, general distribution)
    • Date of visit
    • Site address and/or code
    • Name of institution
    • Province, district or community
    • Name of person(s) in charge
    • Name of person(s) authorized to receive food
    • Date of site agreement
    • Date center opened
    • Date of last monitoring visit
    • Is this a (circle one): regular visit/follow-up visit
    • Was a distribution observed?
  2. Project Participants
    1. Beneficiary Records
      • Number of participants registered to receive food
      • Number of participants listed as having received food for a sample of five days since the last visit
      • Difference between the two. (In reality there will always be differences between registered numbers and numbers actually receiving food.)
      • If great differences are found, expand the sample to 20 days.
    2. Beneficiary Interviews
    3. Whenever possible, monitors should select a sample of beneficiaries to interview. The following are some questions that monitors can ask:

      • Their names (Confirm that the names actually match those of approved beneficiaries.)
      • Whether they visited the project site during the last distribution
      • Whether they received food during the distribution period
      • Whether the food they received was the usual amount
      • Whether they have an individual ration card or other card
      • Whether ration card is filled in.
    4. Interviews with Distribution Staff
      • Is there up-to-date information from CARE or counterparts on distribution schedules and ration sizes? If so, look at documentation.
      • Does food arrive on a timely basis? Are there missed or late deliveries? Look at documentation.
      • Have days for food distributions been canceled?
      • Amount of food missed or late
      • Are distributions reaching approved beneficiary levels?
    5. Ration Sizes
    6. The following questions can be included on a monitoring form.

  3. Center Management
    1. Ledger Review
    2. Identify distribution days from the records and confirm through interviews with beneficiaries that feeding actually occurred.

    3. Inventory Records
    4. Field monitors should get the signature of the person responsible for the distribution site indicating agreement with the physical inventory.

    5. Center Documentation
      • Are copies of all receiving waybills on file and accessible for inspection?
      • Are all copies of the site’s monthly reports on file and accessible for inspection?
      • Is the site ledger up-to-date?
    6. Storage Site
      • Is there ventilation?
      • Are the roof, walls and doors structurally sound?
      • Is the food stored in a secure area with restricted access?
      • Is there a key to the warehouse?
      • Are the persons responsible for authorizing and recording dispatches different from the person holding keys to the warehouse?
      • Is area free from visible rodent excrement on the floor or bags?
      • Is the area free from insects (flying, inside or outside bags)?
      • Are all sacks in sound condition (not damaged or torn)?
      • Is the area free from garbage?
      • Are pallets used?
      • Are the stacks interlaced or bonded?
      • Is there sufficient space between the stacks and walls and other stacks?
    7. Sale/Disposition of Containers
    8. If sites are selling or giving away empty bags or containers, are they following CARE procedures?

      If bags or containers are being sold, how much money is being collected, how is it being recorded, what is being done with the money, are reports going to CARE?

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