Making Supervision Supportive and Sustainable: New Approaches to Old Problems

This paper distills lessons from recent efforts to improve the supervision of family planning and health programs in developing countries and identifies approaches that may be more effective and sustainable. It describes supportive supervision, an approach to supervision that emphasizes joint problem-solving, mentoring, and two-way communication between supervisors and those being supervised. It also expands the concept of effective supervision by exploring how self-assessment and peer assessment, as well as community input, can be seen as vital components of results-oriented, supportive supervision. The paper's conclusions are based on a review of the literature of supervision; an informal, qualitative survey conducted among USAID reproductive health and child survival cooperating agencies; and discussions with MAQ participants. The agencies include John Snow International, Management Sciences for Health, University Research Co., LLC, EngenderHealth, Pathfinder International, the International Planned Parenthood Federation, JHPIEGO, the Johns Hopkins Center for Communication Programs, and INTRAH. The paper draws on responses summarizing the experiences of approximately 16 field programs. Based on review of these experiences in implementing such a style of supervision, the paper provides a framework for what supportive supervision means in practice and identifies key lessons from recent efforts, as well as gaps in our knowledge. (excerpt)

28 pp
United States Agency for International Development [USAID], Maximizing Access and Quality Initiative [MAQ]MAQ Papers