Context: Many donor-driven public health programs are now seeking evidence for sustainability prior to investment, creating the need for tools to better appraise these capabilities. Assessing the sustainability of programs and interventions at the local level remains a community-wide challenge.
Program: This article presents a new self-assessment tool, the Reflection and Action to Improve Self-reliance and Effectiveness (RAISE) Tool ("the Tool"), modeled after The Challenge Initiative's (TCI) Sustainability Pillars. It describes the evolution of the Tool, explores its structure and applications, demonstrates its data analysis capabilities, and illustrates how it can be used for continuous program self-assessment by local governments, which TCI considers an indicator of program sustainability at the local level.
Implementation: Developed in 2019, the Tool has been adapted, adopted, and implemented by 92 local governments across 11 countries. The Challenge Initiative works with these local governments over a minimum of 3 years, providing management and technical coaching on high-impact interventions. Using the Tool, local governments self-assess and evaluate the quality and effectiveness of their activity implementation and identify gaps for improvement. The Tool helps both local governments and TCI track their readiness toward becoming self-reliant and taking ownership of their family planning programs.
Evaluation: As of June 30, 2021, 39 of the 92 local governments reached the final stage of maturity, self-reliance.
Discussion: Experts have stated that it can take 15 years for a sustainability assessment tool such as RAISE to be adopted into government policies. After 2 years of using the Tool on a quarterly basis, on average 87.3% of eligible local governments completed the self-assessments, made course corrections, and have taken steps toward program independence. The 39 local governments that successfully progressed to self-reliance continue to use the Tool without TCI's coaching support and have expressed interest in adapting the Tool for other health interventions.
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