Service Delivery Indicators (SDI), a new Africa-wide initiative that collects data on service delivery in schools and health facilities, has been launched by the World Bank in partnership with the African Economic Research Consortium and the African Development Bank. SDI data are used to assess the quality and performance of education and health services for decision makers to track progress over time, and for citizens to hold governments accountable for public spending. No other set of indicators is available for measuring service delivery performance and quality at schools and health facilities from the perspective of citizens.
Addressing the unfinished quality agenda
Access to schools and clinics has increased in most African countries, but many children leave school unable to read or do basic arithmetic. And, when it comes to health care, the quality of care in clinics remains uneven. Increased spending and the expansion in access to education and health services have not yet been matched with the equivalent improvement in human development outcomes, projecting an unfinished agenda
Quality is critically dependent on what service providers know and what they do
Inspired by the World Bank’s 2004 World Development Report Making Services Work for Poor People, we know that the key characteristics of provider behavior are knowledge, skills, and effort. While knowledge and skills are determined by levels of education and the ability to perform in the classroom and in health facilities, the amount of effort teachers and health works make is highly discretionary: determining how much time to spend with a patient or student is a question of personal judgment. This complicates issues of accountability in the education and health services.
Accountability for public resources
Developing country governments allocate roughly a third of their recurrent budgets to education and health. Demands for accountability and for the efficient use of public resources—from citizens and taxpayers in developed or developing countries alike—are gaining prominence, partly because of the global economic situation.
You cannot hold service providers accountable for what is not measure
Without consistent and accurate information on the quality of services, it is difficult for citizens or politicians to assess how service providers are performing, to work towards corrective action and, ultimately, to bring about improvements in service delivery.
The SDI surveys and data are different from other available studies in a few key ways:
Following the pilot surveys conducted in Tanzania and Senegal in 2010, the first SDI survey was conducted in Kenya in 2012. Surveys followed in Nigeria, Togo, and Uganda in 2013, and in Mozambique and Tanzania in 2014. The findings are available to government officials, donors, members of civil society, and other stakeholders to help them track service delivery quality and performance