Family Planning Country Action Process Evaluation (FP CAPE) is a Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation (BMGF)-funded project based at the Carolina Population Center (CPC) at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (UNC-CH). The project was awarded funding in November 2015. The inception design phase was completed in July 2016, and implementation of the evaluation began in August 2016.


The purpose of FP CAPE is to generate evidence on how and why each portfolio of investments is, or is not driving change in key reproductive health outcomes across the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) and Nigeria. The project takes a realist, theory-based approach to evaluate complex portfolios of BMGF family planning investments to improve modern contraceptive use in the DRC and Nigeria.


FP CAPE recognizes the role of context and interaction in shaping family planning program results, taking a flexible, use-oriented approach to the evaluation of programs and dissemination of findings. We aim to:

Inform investment strategy:
Generate evidence to inform the Foundation’s family planning portfolio of investment strategies in the DRC and Nigeria
Learn across the portfolio:
Improve cross-grantee learning and maximize the efficiency and effectiveness of program activities across the portfolios
Coordinate stakeholders:
Enhance grantee and government partner coordination and engagement
Advance global knowledge:
Further understanding of how programs improve access, quality, and utilization of family planning services, and contribute to knowledge of how to conduct process evaluations of complex interventions

Evaluation approaches

FP CAPE assists BMGF to monitor and evaluate their investments in family planning through a systematic assessment at the portfolio level. We work in partnership with governments, donors, local organizations, as well as the BMGF team and partners to more effectively and sustainably achieve national FP2020 country goals. Our evaluation approaches include:

  • Portfolio-level evaluation: FP CAPE examines the entire portfolio of BMGF family planning investments in the DRC and Nigeria. A portfolio-level evaluation focuses on how the full set of investments with multiple activities led by multiple partners in a complex system work together to achieve higher-level outcomes. Interactions and synergies between programs must be considered to inform the effectiveness of the overall portfolio investment strategy in a country context.
  • Prospective evaluation design: FP CAPE uses an innovative prospective evaluation design to document program implementation and learning concurrently with program implementation. The prospective design allows us to track change and emergent issues, and to test critical assumptions in real time to inform ongoing program implementation. It also reduces the problems of recall error and post-event rationalization associated with retrospective evaluation designs.
  • Complexity-aware: The portfolios of FP investments in the DRC and Nigeria contain several features that characterize complex systems. These features include several interdependent parts that need to fit together to achieve intended result, such as larger social and political contextual influences, interactions between multiple stakeholders, a variety of different implementing actors and organizations, and multiple causal pathways.
  • Draws on relevant theory-based evaluation models: Theory-based evaluation focuses on defining the program theory and underlying assumptions, and testing them. Realist evaluation is a theory-based approach that emphasizes the interaction of context and mechanism.
  • Flexible: The FP CAPE evaluation approach aims to be responsive to emerging issues and changes in the portfolio composition as investments are added or policy and service delivery contexts change. Flexibility is part of the underlying theoretical model of the FP CAPE design, as it is grounded in the realist evaluation model that aims to improve program theory in response to evolving programs, contexts, and evidence.
  • Use-oriented: Findings from FP CAPE must address research questions that are relevant to stakeholder needs. Stakeholder engagement throughout the evaluation process is essential. Findings are shared for wider validation and to maximize their use. Communication of findings occur in a variety of formats tailored to the target audience.