MEAL Development A La Carte
I bet preparing meals in a 5 star restaurant is like working for sustainable development agencies. Master Chefs of Michelin Star caliber are the Chief of Party or Executive Directors of Government Agencies, International Non Government Organizations, and Multilateral Development Banks that lead top tier staff that specialize in different fields of development. This one uses a recipe as a guide like that of a program plan, or measuring cups and weights to quantify the ingredients needed like that of development indicators. To measure quantifiably qualitative indicators of development is a difficult task, but one that is necessary that would aid in the movement of direct action towards a clear sustainable development goal.
Understanding what we mean by development, indicators, and why an indicator is important to the context of this discussion through examples and a brief note on each. This paper also attempts to open the discourse on the different development indicators the Government of the Philippines uses in monitoring its national socio-economic development and other indicators in following international commitments.
Discussions about the many faces of development can standalone on its own essay. But for our purpose, let us consider the term, development, in continuing with our a la carte analogy in the beginning, as one whole Blueberry Cheesecake. To understand what development means in the simplest term is to look at it both quantitatively and qualitatively. Quantitatively we look at a Blueberry Cheesecake through its ingredients. We ask, how many cups of flour? How spoons of sugar? How many liters of water? How many cans of Blueberry? How many bars of white cheese? Etc. The list goes on, and varies depending on one’s taste and style. The same can be said of creating quantitative development indicators to represent changes in social and economic growth that an agency or nation wishes to monitor. We ask the basics of who, where, what, when, and where to capture data for a Monitoring, Evaluation, Accountability, and Learning System. A MEAL is necessary nowadays for data management and informed planning and decision making. On the other side of quantitative measures is measuring the essence of changes in growth, it answers the why and sometimes the how of development. This is the qualitative indicator. In cheesecakes, this is the aesthetic sensation that one feels from the craving, to the first bite, and the after taste full of sugar happiness. Basically, looking at development qualitatively monitors positive or negative impacts of why and how policies, programs, plans, and activities influence or not influence changes in human behavior or in health metrics. By bringing together quantitative and qualitative features we get to appreciate the whole piece of the development Blueberry Cheesecake.
I hope I had already stimulated your appetite for some more talk about development indicators later.