A tool-kit for the evaluation of sustainability processes and
sustainability levels of public health programs and projects


How to use tool 1

Tool 1 helps you to evaluate the sustainability process of programs/projects. This evaluation is accomplished in two steps: collection, and information synthesis.

First step: Information collection

Information collection takes place in two phases.

1- Creation of an events and activities log

First, all of the program/project’s activities (e.g. a weekly specific physical exercise in school) must be listed as well as events (e.g. the implementation of these specific physical exercises) that happened in relation to the program/project. To identify these activities and events, you can use one or any combination of the following procedures: a) observation of the program/project, b) analysis of documents related to the program/project, c) individual interviews with key people, and d) group interviews with key people (focus groups). You may collect information from all observations in one Tool 1 form, and collect information from all documents analyzed in another form, while you may need to complete one form per interview.

The objective is to create an events and activities log for the program/project. It is possible to update this log at any time by documenting changes in activities as well as new events.

2 – Classification of program/project-linked events

The next step is to classify events that are related to the program/project by reviewing the log with the help of Tool 1. You can classify events a) by yourself, and/or b) by interviewing key people separately, and/or c) by interviewing key people in focus groups. These events should be classified as either favourable or unfavourable to the sustainability of the program/project.

In an interview you can ask the following question in relation to each event listed in the log:
–  Was this event favourable or unfavourable to the sustainability of the program/project (name the program/project)?

People often need prompting to describe the important aspects of these events. The nine questions included in the table below can help to illicit the desired information. The information gained from this process can be used to fill out the “Tool 1” form.

Sustainability process: Guide for information collection (e.g. interview guide)
  1. Were actions taken to stabilize organizational resources for program/project activities (financial, human, material, training)?
  2. Were organizational risks taken in favour of the program/project?
  3. Were the people involved encouraged to carry out program/project activities?
  4. Were program/project activities adapted to local context according to their effectiveness and to population needs?
  5. Were program/project activities designed with the goals of the organization in mind (name the organization)?
  6. Was there transparent communication between the people involved (enumerate people)?
  7. Was there a cultural sharing between the organization (name the organization) and the program/project (artefacts, myths, symbols, metaphors, rituals, jargon, values)?
  8. Were the rules related to the organization’s (name the organization) activities integrated to those of the program/project, or vice versa?
  9. Were the resources invested by the organization (name the organization) adequate to accomplish program/project activities (financial, human, material, training)?
  10. Were practices and techniques related to program/project activities compatible with those of the organization (name the organization)?


Additional questions can be used to gain a deeper understanding of events. For each event, try to answer the following questions:

  • What led to this event?
  • How did this happen?
  • Why?
  • With whom?
  • What was particularly positive or negative in relation with program/project activities?
  • How did the concerned parties feel?
  • How did concerned parties react?
  • What strategies were used?
  • What were the effects?
  • What happened next or what were the perceived consequences?

Second step: Information synthesis

The second step of the sustainability process evaluation consists of the analysis of collected information. First, a synthesis-table including all completed “Tool 1” forms must be created. For example, six individual interviews were conducted during the evaluation process, and six “Tool 1” forms were completed. These forms must then be synthesized into one form. An example of a synthesis-table is presented in “Example of Tool 1 utilization”.

The objective of the creation of a synthesis-table is twofold: a) to compare the amount of favourable and unfavourable events associated with the program/project, and b) to identify what types of actions may be taken to make the program/project (more) sustainable.

When examining a synthesis-table, three scenarios are possible: 1) more favourable events indicates a strong sustainability process, 2) an equal amount of favourable and unfavourable events indicates a moderate sustainability process, and 3) more unfavourable events indicates a low sustainability process.

You can validate the synthesis-table and its interpretation with people involved in the program/project in group meetings with key people for example. Meetings can also allow you to identify future events that would be favourable to the sustainability process of the program/project by asking the question:
– What actions may be taken in the next few weeks/months to make the program/project (more) sustainable?

Finally, you can periodically update the synthesis-table by integrating changes from the events and activities log for the program/project. Updating the synthesis-table will allow you to adjust the actions that may be taken.