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Fifteen years after ICPD, a large global family of development workers committed to universal access to sexual and reproductive health continue to work on improving the lives and expanding the choices of individuals and couples. Reproductive health is a human right, yet reproductive health conditions are the leading cause of death and illness in women of childbearing age worldwide. At least 200 million women who want to plan their families or space their births lack access to safe and effective contraception.

Investments in reproductive health save and improve lives, slow the spread of HIV and encourage gender equality. These benefits extend from the individual to the family and from the family to the world. Yet resources allocated for improving SRH are scarce and needs are urgent. It is vital to use our limited resources in the most effective way.

Understanding a problem and all its contributing and surrounding factors is the most important first step toward finding a solution. Over the last decade SRH workers have become increasingly aware of the need for an appropriate assessment of problems and needs before designing interventions, and for continuous monitoring during implementation. They have developed and used many tools and methodologies for the purpose; maybe too many for the busy programme manager at national or district level to be comfortably familiar with all the strengths and limitations of these tools and the resources and time needed to conduct assessments using them.

To fill this information gap, we have developed a guide to tools and successful methodologies for SRH assessments. We hope that it will be a useful aid to busy programme managers who need to plan and conduct assessments in SRH;
understand better the challenges facing them; plan interventions, and monitor and
evaluate their progress.



This guide provides clear and concise information on the strengths and limitations of some of the most commonly used methodologies for making assessments in sexual and reproductive health. We have tried to make it user-friendly for the busy programme manager. The guide can be read as a whole, but also can be used to look at certain methodologies and find information on specific characteristics of a single methodology.

It is recommended before planning an assessment that the section on “Conducting an assessment to improve sexual and reproductive health programmes” is read, and the tools presented are closely examined. If there is interest in only a few of the methodologies, the relevant sections can be consulted – each of the articles stand alone and can be useful on its own.

Readers must be aware that this is not an inventory of all the tools and methodologies available for assessments in SRH, but rather a more detailed introduction of those most commonly used. For readers interested in examining other tools, we have included a list of inventories in the further reading.

Each tool in this guide is presented in an article written by an expert with substantive experience in its use. Each article briefly describes the tool and explains its strengths and limitations. Under the subtitle “Principles and steps for using the tool” will be found information on its application (whether it is good for assessing for example health services, communities or policies); instruments used; human resources needed; time required, and an estimate of cost. Subsequent sections provide brief information on adapting the tool
to the context in which it will be used, as well as contact information for external
technical assistance.

Sample questionnaires, interview guidelines, observation forms – that is, instruments developed and used during assessments conducted using a certain tool or methodology – are provided in the Bank of Sample Questionnaires. Readers can find further information on additional instruments by contacting the authors using the contact information at the end of each article.

Welcome Photo

© Micah Albert/UNFPA


The Menu of Tools was produced with the valuable input and expertise of many individuals including:

Nuriye Ortayli, Milen Beyene

Stan Bernstein, Bruce Campbell, Duong Van Dat, Florence Ebanyat, Mary Finalborgo, Howard Friedman, Peter Fajans, Alfredo Fort, Katie Gifford, Mona Kaidbey, Jacqueline Mahon, Saramma Mathai, Robert Miller, Alia Nankoe, Ann Nunes, Kate Ramsey, Dia Timmermans, Ersin Topcuoglu, Sylvia Wong, Carla Abou Zahr.

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