Child Indicators Research

, Volume 4, Issue 4, pp 597–618 | Cite as

Finding the Right Balance Between Standardisation and Flexibility: A Compendium of Indicators for Measuring Child Well-Being



Understandings of child well-being are culturally embedded and highly contextualised. Its multifaceted nature, including dimensions of health, education, child social capital and psychosocial well-being, creates significant conceptual and methodological challenges for selection of standard indicators. This is particularly true for programmes that cover small areas where context is paramount in determining locally significant outcomes. Child focused International Non Governmental Organizations, such as World Vision, work in country contexts as different as Albania and Angola, with types of programmes ranging from advocacy to emergency, yet are seeking to report regionally and globally for advocacy and accountability purposes. How is it possible to measure context specific child well-being in such diverse situations? This article will present a compendium of indicators organized under a common set of child well-being outcomes. The compendium drew on globally recognized instruments such as MICS, literacy tests, and child self perception surveys to provide a wide selection of indicators. A three-step process for selecting indicators empowers programmers to choose indicators appropriate to their context. The compendium was piloted in Zambia with community-based programmers. The pilot had mixed results with programmers having some difficulty defining links between project activities and higher level outcomes. Refining the list of indicators to a manageable number was also a challenge. Questions were raised on the sequencing and use of focus group discussion. In conclusion, a compendium of indicators initially appears to be a workable solution for large organisations to measure well-being, but there is a requirement for specific capacity building for staff.


Child well-being Indicators Multi-dimensional poverty Zambia Outcomes 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.World Vision InternationalLusakaZambia
  2. 2.World Vision InternationalViterboItaly

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