Feed the Future
This project is part of the U.S. Government's global hunger and food security initiative.

Feed the Future Indicator Handbook

***Revised version publication date:  Sept 2019***
(Note: We made revisions to the March 2018 Handbook to correct some errors, add points of clarification, and make adjustments to a few of the indicators to improve our measure of performance. This website and the Handbook files located at the right have been updated with this revised version. See Appendix 3 for a list of the revisions we made.)


Publication Date: March 2018 (original); Sept 2019 (revised)

This updated Feed the Future Indicator Handbook presents the set of performance management indicators for phase two of the USG’s Feed the Future initiative, guided by the Global Food Security Strategy (GFSS). The indicators are designed to measure progress against each result in the Feed the Future results framework.

This product is the result of a nearly year-long process of ongoing interagency cooperation, two public comment periods (12), and collaboration with other technical experts within USAID to pull together a list of standard indicators best suited for measuring the results of our food security work and to flesh out clear definitions for each. On October 1, 2017, the final list of indicators was cleared and published as part of the GFSS Implementation Report, and since then, a working group has been working to fully define these indicators and draft an introduction that articulates general principles for the implementation of these indicators.  Representatives from across USAID and other U.S. Government agencies have been involved in the process.

Who should use this handbook? Anyone involved in managing or monitoring a Feed the Future activity. USAID Operating Units and implementing partners (IPs), as well as interagency partners, should use the Feed the Future standard indicators, appropriate custom indicators, and performance narratives to manage, adapt and report on performance of individual implementing mechanisms (IMs) and to monitor progress towards applicable outputs, outcomes, and impacts.

Some major changes, next steps, and points of emphasis include:

  • Partners should plan to report on new indicators beginning with FY 2019 results, setting targets in Fall 2018. In the meantime, please continue reporting on existing indicators, following the titles and definitions in the existing Feed the Future Indicator Handbook.  See the "Introduction" section of the Handbook for more details, including an easy-to-reference summary table of how the transition will work.
  • A primary goal for the Feed the Future indicator redesign was to strike a balance between measuring all aspects of the results framework adequately while keeping the reporting burden manageable. Despite the need to measure more objectives and intermediate results for the Global Food Security Strategy results framework, the total number of performance indicators only increased slightly, from 53 to 54 performance indicators. These indicators include 20 to be collected every three years through population-based household surveys in a zone of influence. These surveys and indicators are required for Feed the Future target countries.
  • The number of annual implementing mechanism indicators has remained the same, at 28. These indicators are required if the implementing mechanism has interventions relevant to the corresponding intermediate result; they are more focused on outcomes than outputs.
  • Recognizing the context-specific nature of every program, we are emphasizing MEL tools beyond standard indicators, which are focused on country-specific investments. This is particularly relevant for regional and centrally-funded investments, for which standard indicators have less relevance. We encourage partners to identify and use custom indicators and qualitative analytic tools to better reflect our diverse and context-specific investments.
  • We have also added 25 context indicators. They do not require targets, are collected using secondary data (otherwise are not applicable), and will provide valuable information that will help us better interpret our results and understand our working environment.

For an overview of the Feed the Future Monitoring, Evaluation, and Learning system, plus deeper dives into some popular and tricky indicators, check out the recordings in the Feed the Future MEL Webinar Series