Diagnosis and Targeting

Identifying the Target Group

AGI Lessons Learned

Think carefully about how to define the target group so that it is not unreasonably narrow or impractically broad. Projects probably can’t work with just one segment of the population, nor can they work with all segments. For example, the target group of adolescent girls is very broad and masks important differences with respect to age, schooling, marital status, and so on. Projects should prioritize reaching subsets of adolescent girls according to the project objectives. For example, the AGI in Jordan aimed to smooth the transition from school to work and so chose to target female community college graduates, whose transition was noticeably stalled.

Do the "demographic homework" to make sure that the intended target group exists in sufficient numbers in the project location. For example, in South Sudan the AGI conducted a door-to-door census to ensure that there were enough potential beneficiaries in the project areas. The project used this opportunity to sensitize communities and households to the project and to begin recruitment.

When choosing selection criteria, think about the type of girls the program is designed for and the type of girls the program is likely to attract. For example, a skills training program may be more likely to attract older youth who are out of school; setting a maximum age that is relatively young may not work well in this case. In Liberia the project decided to have a basic literacy requirement, but many of the girls who were interested in the program were illiterate.

Be careful that the selection criteria do not trigger adverse effects. For example, if the program is trying to attract out-of-school youth, it is important that the selection criteria do not incentivize youth who are in school to drop out. For example, AGIs in Liberia and Haiti require that girls be out of school for a stipulated period (self-reported) to be eligible to participate in the program.

Each project should approach targeting decisions by reflecting on its objective and by thinking through who needs to be reached to achieve its objective. The AGI was launched to respond to pervasive gaps in young women’s employment and earnings. AGI pilots generally opted to target young women of legal working age (mostly 16 to 24), who were “NEET” (“Not in Education, Employment [including the underemployed], or Training”). From there, each pilot determined the specific target profile of young women based on the project priorities and the country context. For example, there are important differences among subgroups of adolescent girls and young women, including with respect to:

  • Age: Girls 10 to 14 have different needs than those 15 to 19, and from those 20 to 24.
  • Whether they are in-school or out-of-school, and whether or not they are literate.
  • If they work (distinguishing paid and unpaid work).
  • If they are married.
  • If they are mothers.
  • If they are engaged in sex work or transactional sex.
  • If they are migrants, refugees or internally displaced.
  • If they have a disability.
  • If they are orphans.
  • If they are domestic workers.
  • If they live in an urban area or a rural one.
  • If they are from ethnic minorities/discriminated ethnicities or groups.
  • And so on…

The AGI pilots considered the socio-economic characteristics and spatial concentrations of specific subgroups of young women. For example, if the plan is to target 16- to 24-year old women who are not in school, then the project will need to know: a) that this profile of young women exists in sufficient numbers; b) where they are concentrated geographically (at the country-level and subnationally); and c) the characteristics of this group. The AGI pilots relied on nationally-representative survey data—such as recent census or household survey data and demographic and health surveys—and complemented data from these sources with rapid vulnerability assessments.

In South Sudan, where recent census data were lacking, the project conducted its own census, which was administered at a cost of US$3-5 per household. From an evaluation perspective, a census is recommended if there is no reliable list of potential beneficiaries to define a survey sampling frame. In terms of a recruitment strategy, there are pros and cons to using door-to-door advertising (see Recruiting and Retaining Young Women). The disadvantages are cost and time. The advantage is that it is the most unbiased form of recruitment—it is the only way to know that every household and every girl, no matter how disadvantaged or isolated, hears about the program.

Strategy Tools and Resources

Several AGI pilots conducted assessments that used primary and secondary data to construct a socioeconomic, demographic, and geographic profile of the population of interest to inform project targeting decisions.

Tool icon Liberia Girls' Vulnerability Assessment ToR

Resource icon Liberia Girls' Vulnerability Assessment

Because good census data were unavailable, the AGI in South Sudan conducted a door-to-door household census to locate and collect relevant information on potential project participants in the selected geographic areas. 

Tool icon South Sudan Community Census Form

After confirming the targeting decisions, project eligibility criteria were established to maximize the chances that young women with the desired characteristics were admitted to the project. Eligibility criteria may be particularly important if a project has a limited budget or scope. These criteria should be easy to understand, low cost to measure and monitor, and should be kept to the minimum of what can be reasonably verified in the particular setting. For example, age can be difficult to verify in places where youth do not commonly have birth certificates or other forms of national identification. See Recruiting and Retaining Young Women for tools used to verify the AGI eligibility criteria during the recruitment process.

AGI Eligibility Criteria
AGI Pilot
Eligibility Criteria
  1. Completion or near-completion of high school
  2. Age 18-30
  1. Basic literacy (Creole)
  2. Out of formal school for at least one year
  3. Age 17-20
  1. Community college final year students who have passed graduation exams
Laos PDR
  1. Marketplace Competition: entrepreneurs under 35, at least half had to be female (part of a coed program)
  2. Career Offices: University/Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) students, at least half had to be female
  1. Age 16-24
  2. Not in school
  3. Basic literacy
  4. Residence in targeted communities
  1. Socially and economically disadvantaged, based on a matrix of characteristics and conditions, (part of a coed program)
  2. Age 16-24
  3. Have not completed high school
  1. Basic literacy
  2. Out of formal school for at least one year
  3. Age 15-24
  4. Socially and economically vulnerable per government social protection categories
South Sudan
  1. Permanent resident of the village where the club is located
  2. Age 15-24

For more information on targeting in the AGI projects, see: AGI Learning from Practice Note on Selection and Recruitment | World Bank | 2013.

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