Original Research

Using the analytical hierarchical process for programme design decisions: A disability case study

Carren G. Duffy, Lara Minne
African Evaluation Journal | Vol 11, No 1 | a701 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/aej.v11i1.701 | © 2023 Carren G. Carren, Lara Minne | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 22 May 2023 | Published: 10 October 2023

About the author(s)

Carren G. Duffy, School of Management Studies, Faculty of Commerce, University of Cape Town, Cape Town, South Africa
Lara Minne, School of Management Studies, Faculty of Commerce, University of Cape Town, Cape Town, South Africa


Background: A care facility for people with disabilities struggles to obtain financial support for its Parent Education and Support Programme. The programme’s design includes two implementers, an occupational therapist and a community-based worker, increasing its core costs. To enhance the likelihood of donor support, the Facility considered choosing the best-suited implementer for the programme. To help inform this decision, a formal methodological approach to high-level decision-making called multi-criteria decision analysis (MCDA) was utilised.

Objective: Through a case study, this paper demonstrates how the MCDA methodology, using the analytical hierarchical process (AHP), was applied in a programme evaluation context.

Method: Decision models were constructed using the AHP MCDA method and elicited rater judgments. Raters were drawn from four stakeholder groups: Programme beneficiaries, management, donors, and experts in disability and rehabilitation. This was followed by assigning criteria weights, establishing local priorities for each alternative, and aggregating the judgments. The model was then synthesised, and a sensitivity analysis was conducted.

Results: The findings revealed that specific outcomes were attributed to each implementer, and thus, deciding to employ only one implementer would have had serious consequences for the programme’s quality and the achievement of intended outcomes.

Conclusion: The results confirmed the usefulness of AHP MCDA for programme design decisions.

Contribution: This article contributes by enhancing the understanding of the AHP MCDA methodology. Secondly, it demonstrates the suitability of this methodology for programme designers, evaluators, or non-profit organisations (NPOs) who need to make informed decisions about the design and implementation of interventions.


multi-criteria decision analysis; analytical hierarchical process; disability care; programme implementers; design decisions

JEL Codes

A10: General; A20: General; A30: General

Sustainable Development Goal

Goal 16: Peace, justice and strong institutions


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