What are baseline assessments? Baseline assessments help to build an understanding of the environment as it stands prior to the intervention. Baseline assessments collect data on indicators and infrom realistic indicator targets for the programme.
Why use them? Baseline data enables you to establish a foundation, the baseline from which measure change over time and evaluate the programme impact.

This tool is most useful at the design and implementation stages. It can be used together with:

1.1 Understanding the VE Challenge

2.1 Grounding yout ToC in the PVE context

2.3 ToC for PVE Checklist

As with conflict and violence prevention work more broadly, the PVE field lacks empirical data, making it difficult to develop baselines against which success can then be measured. What tends to happen is a ‘leap’ between project outputs and expectations relating to outcome and impact. Without conducting a baseline study, it can be very difficult to monitor and evaluate the impacts of a programme as well as making it more difficult to identify risk.

The major factors which will influence how you decide to conduct your baseline assessment are:
  • Programme objectives and nature of the information sought;
  • Target groups;
  • Available time and budgetary constraints; and
  • Feasibility of accessing data and/or respondents.

Whilst no method is a substitute for a baseline, in existing programmes where a baseline assessment has not been conducted, there are techniques for reconstructing baseline data:

Accessing data from secondary sources which provide information on the beneficiary population at the time the intervention started. This could include other research reports, programme evaluations from other interventions and government survey data. However, depending on the purpose, scale and methodology of these sources, the data may not be directly relevant to your target group or the time in question. In addition, there could be challenges accessing official data on relevant statistics due to sensitivity of data.

Using administrative and monitoring data from the programme during implementation to estimate baseline conditions for the target population. This could include applications submitted or needs assessment forms filled in by beneficiaries.

Recall techniques asking respondents to provide information on their situation, conditions, attitudes or behaviours over a specific period. This method is open to bias (e.g. being nostalgic about the past), which can distort how a situation or experience is perceived and reported, however, recall can sometimes provide better self-assessment estimates of behaviour and knowledge. Before completing a programme, people can overestimate their skills or knowledge because they do not know what skills are required. Post-completion, with their new awareness and skills, they can provide a more accurate assessment of their previous level of competency or behaviours and how much these have changed.