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Why Beneficiary Assessment (BA) and its Principles

Beneficiary Assessment is about getting people's own perspectives on development results in a fair way and to use the findings to adapt and steer our (Swiss funded, donor) contribution to development processes. It should help us get a better idea of how a project has contributed to its original goals, but it goes beyond this as it gives the range of development actors (donors, implementers, local stakeholders) greater insight into community perspectives on a project's effectiveness and provides a basis for meaningful response to people's self-expressed needs.

For SDC, the BA is embedded in our Results Based Management thinking and is one source of information to get insight at the outcome level. It allows verifying the impact hypothesis and checking if the poverty reduction effect implicitly included in a systemic approach is taking place or not.

A BA also serves to bring concerned communities closer to a project: not only are members of communities themselves involved in conducting BA field research, but the community members whose opinions are sought also develop a better idea of what a project is trying to achieve and who is involved in trying to make it happen.

 

​​BA Principles

 

BA is driven by a core set of principles which are designed to ensure that it reaches the goals of revealing local perspectives on development interventions and providing clear indications of how development actors can make meaningful adjustments to their work. These principles are:

  • Participation and ownership – A crucial aspect of the BA approach is that it creates space for participation by the involved stakeholders, in the design, implementation and interpretation of results. This goes hand-in-hand with a stronger sense of ownership in the process and results.
  • Inclusion – A BA is aimed at gathering a full range of perspectives of those affected by a project, so it must be designed in an inclusive way, especially for poor and marginalized groups, whose voices are often excluded from mainstream development initiatives.
  • Representativeness – The process needs to ensure that sampling methods result in coverage of local populations that gives an accurate picture of the project landscape and the people within it.
  • Differentiation – Another important element of the BA approach is the clear surfacing of different perspectives (through sex disaggregation, disaggregation based on social group).
  • Self critical quality of analysis – No assessment is unbiased, including a BA. However, conscious effort to explore the implications of the perspectives of various participants (both those being assessed and those doing the assessment), as well as critical reflection on the methodological approach itself, can strengthen BA results.
  • Responsiveness – A distinguishing and essential principle of a BA is the orientation to using the results to inform future action. If implementer and donors are not prepared to (possibly substantially) adjust what they are doing in response to a BA, the exercise should not be conducted at all.

 

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​​BA Videos

 

Why BA? Here some video impressions of key players in previous BA exercises:

 

BA Facilitator in Swaziland

 

 

See report of the event in Lesotho, Swaziland


 

BA Project Implementer in Nepal

 

 

 

SDC Project Manager in Southern Africa

 

 

 See Video Reports for additional testimonies from various BA stakeholders.

 

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