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Service Delivery Indicators

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About SDI

The Service Delivery Indicators (SDI) initiative collects data on service delivery in schools and health facilities. It helps countries identify areas of progress and areas for improvement with potential lessons for progress within and between countries.

To date, more than 3,200 schools (and 34,000 teachers) and 8,000 health facilities (and 67,000 health workers) have been sampled in 26 SDI surveys completed in 12 African countries, capturing the health and primary education service delivery experience of over 500 million people. The SDI initiative is now being scaled up globally. 

Beyond capacity generation, the SDI initiative provides relevant inputs for research. So far, SDIs have been featured in about 45 publications, among which more than 15 peer-reviewed academic articles published in leading economics, education, and health journals.

SDI Health Microdata Library | SDI Education Microdata Library

Service Delivery Indicators (SDI) are a set of key health and education statistics on provider ability, effort, and inputs that offer a snapshot of the experience of the average citizen accessing these services. Using standardized questionnaires and data collection procedures, usually between 200 and 2,000 facilities (schools or health facilities) are surveyed per country, generating results that are representative at national and sub-national levels. The surveys allow for analysis at sub-regional levels (e.g. counties, provinces, districts, etc.), rural and urban areas, public and private providers, and other relevant features (e.g. facility type). Indicator definitions and data collection protocols are standardized so that they can be internationally comparable. SDI are periodically updated to reflect technology and systemic changes while ensuring comparability within and across countries, and over time.

SDI is an initiative coordinated by the Chief Economist Office in the Human Development Practice Group at the World Bank. It was launched in 2010 as a partnership between the World Bank Group and the African Economic Research Consortium (AERC). They were later joined by the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation and The African Development Bank. The World Bank implements SDI surveys jointly with host country governments, providing a robust, cutting-edge and standardized data tool to measure the service delivery experience of average citizens in primary schools and primary health centers. The SDI initiative: a) aims to improve the monitoring of service delivery to increase public accountability and good governance; b) assess the quality and performance of education and health services for decision-makers, and c) provide a set of metrics to act as benchmarks for the performance of schools and health facilities (over time and across countries).

The Service Delivery Indicators aim to identify gaps in service delivery and to track progress within and across countries over time. The broad availability of the data and publicity around key indicators helps mobilizes policymakers, citizens, donors and other stakeholders into action. For a country government, the SDI offers the chance to measure multiple aspects of human capital and to compare across the health and education sectors. The survey provides detail that cannot be seen from routine reporting and which can guide future policy decisions.

The SDIs also offer a few key advantages:

  • The survey instruments are nimble, allowing for relatively rapid fieldwork and data analysis.
  • SDIs use robust, cutting-edge data collection methods.
  • Indicators are standardized, allowing for comparisons between countries and over time.
  • SDIs builds capacity of local organizations in research and policy analysis.
  • SDIs help countries identify some of the key drivers of low human capital outcomes.
  • SDIs provide the only internationally-comparable data on provider absenteeism and knowledge in education and health sectors in developing countries.

The indicators are designed to measure both the efforts and abilities of health providers and educators as well as the education and health facilities’ resources.

There are established acceptable standards that schools and clinics must meet for service delivery and the SDI survey monitors whether a country’s facilities and professional staff are regularly meeting those standards.

For example, in education the indicators record how much time a teacher spends teaching in the classroom or what the student to teacher ratio is. In health, indicators capture a health provider’s adherence to clinical guidelines or what the caseload is per clinician. In terms of resources, the survey records whether the appropriate books and materials are available in schools and medicine and equipment in health clinics.

Since the inception of the initiative in 2010, twenty-six surveys have been completed in twelve countries in Africa, capturing the health and primary education service delivery experience of over 500 million people. The surveys have been extended in Africa (with SDIs in the pipeline or envisioned in Benin, DRC, Cameron, Madagascar, Ethiopia, Cote D’Ivoire, Gambia, Guinea Bissau, Malawi, and Mali) and beyond: data collection for the first SDI surveys Europe and Central Asia (Armenia, Moldova and Ukraine), Middle East and North Africa (Iraq), and South Asia (Bhutan) are underway or being considered.