What is Beneficiary Assessment?

The Beneficiary Assessment (BA) approach is focused on gaining insights into community perspectives through interviews and group discussions at community level, by working with members of similar communities (peers) as primary field researchers.

Project monitoring and evaluation most often focuses on quantitative aspects of project delivery. Yet what do the people on the receiving end of project interventions – the primary stakeholders – think themselves about it? Did they think it was appropriate, was it implemented in the way they expected, are they satisfied with the results, what would they suggest to do better next time? Hard facts and figures are important, but they are much more meaningful when combined with qualitative, participatory assessments provided by the people who are most directly affected.

The term Beneficiary Assessment (BA) was coined in the 1990s to refer to a participatory project assessment approach developed at the World Bank. Today this terminology is somewhat outdated as the implication of "beneficiaries" is of passive recipients, whereas the relationship is in fact an active, two-way one. Thus people participating in a project are more accurately considered to be clients or stakeholders who have both rights – human rights – and duties/commitments as project participants. Nevertheless, the terminology is retained as BA is a well-known and accepted methodology.

SDC intends to apply BA in the monitoring and evaluation of its projects and programmes, particularly as a means of providing important insights into poverty dynamics. This section of the website provides a variety of materials on the subject, from descriptions of the overall approach, to specific tools and guidelines, to published results of BAs of various projects. The goal is to share learning amongst practitioners as well as to make BAs more accessible to those with an interest in exploring more participatory approaches to project and programme assessment.