Counting People Reached – Navigating direct, indirect and double counting

With the increased attention to performance accountability, output indicators, like the number of people reached by services, have understandably taken a backseat of impact indicators used to determine what difference has been made. However, one should not underestimate the importance of and challenges for measuring basic output-level indicators, such as people reached by services (AKA “beneficiaries”).  This blog will examine this, focusing on the challenges presented by direct and indirect recipients, as well as double counting. It will conclude that there is no universal “recipe” for accurately counting people reached.

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“Beneficiary” Revisited

This post is about what to call the people we target in development and humanitarian relief work – that may strike one as mundane, but for monitoring and evaluation (M&E), it is essential to define and clearly understand what we are to measure and report. From “beneficiaries” and “clients” to “target population” and “people reached,” semantics vary, with salient considerations (and complications) for measurement. I will illustrate this by first looking at a couple glitches with the use of “beneficiary,” 2) recognize that semantics adapts to context, and 3) stress

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