Document Type


Date of Degree

Fall 2013

Degree Name

PhD (Doctor of Philosophy)

Degree In


First Advisor

Rushton, Gerard

First Committee Member

Ng'ethe, Njuguna

Second Committee Member

Barkan, Joel D.

Third Committee Member

Giblin, James L.

Fourth Committee Member

Malanson, George P.

Fifth Committee Member

Stewart, Kathleen


Donor-accountability demands have increased the importance of indicator-based Monitoring and Evaluation (M & E) for official development assistance (ODA). This unremitting pressure for aid- recipient countries to produce indicators and for donors to judge the success of aid exclusively by indicators is well documented by development scholars and practitioners. The research for this dissertation examined how this pressure reffered to as "indicatorism" influenced and was influenced by the implementation of donor development aid. The donor-funded Kenya Education Sector Support Program (KESSP) served as a case study to address this issue. It investigated the factors that formed "indicatorism" for KESSP; the actual production of indicators for KESSP; the influence of the politics of development aid on M & E; and whether Geographic Information (GI) served as an alternative to indicators in the M & E process. The case study used an archival review of KESSP documentation, detailed observation of KESSP project sites, focus group discussions with KESSP stakeholders at four field sites in Kenya, interviews with donor and government officials, an analysis of KESSP indicators, and an analysis of KESSP's school mapping project (SMP).

Through an examination of the historical context preceding KESSP, this dissertation concluded that a sequence of policies fostered a culture of "indicatorism". Donor policies that included structural adjustment and those that promoted global development targets have encouraged both donors and recipient governments to unrelentingly use indicators to judge aid. Within Kenya performance-contracting policies have reinforced this emphasis on indicators.

An investigation of how KESSP's indicators were produced revealed that pressures to inflate indicators corrupted KESSP's M & E system. There was strong evidence that national administrative data systems produced exaggerated indicators. However, there was no evidence to suggest that local implementers over-counted core educational statistics intended to produce indicators for KESSP.

An investigation of the politics that surrounded KESSP showed that political relations shaped the findings of indicator-based M & E reporting. When relations were strong at the beginning of KESSP, M & E reporting was used to show the success of KESSP. As these relations deteriorated M & E reporting reflected the rifts between donors and the Kenyan government. However, even after donors suspended aid, indicators still framed the discourse about KESSP and free primary education in Kenya.

An examination of the use of GI for KESSP's M & E demonstrated that despite its planned use as an integral part of KESSP's M & E, GI was not used to evaluate KESSP. Mapping data about KESSP could have exposed the government to a degree of transparency beyond what reporting aggregate national indicators provided. There are, of course, other explanations why GI was not used. For instance, the rapid creation of new administrative districts could have also made its use infeasible. The absence of transparency in the M & E process could very well be a symptom of the culture of "indicatorism", but this lack of transparency also makes it difficult to rule out alternative explanations about KESSP and its M & E process.


Evaluation, International Development, Kenya, Monitoring and Evaluation (M & E), Official Development Aid


xi, 248 pages


Includes bibliographical references (pages 204-214).


Copyright 2013 Douglas Michael Grane

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