What is data collection? Data collection in monitoring and evaluation refers to the gathering of information necessary for carrying out baseline survey, monitoring and evaluation. The quality of base line, monitoring and evaluation depends on quality of information collected. The nature of information to be gathered varies according to the nature and needs of the project under implementation. The information for base line mainly relates to the characteristics of the existing situation of the operational areas. On the other hand the information to be collected for monitoring and evaluation are linked to the indicators attached to the objectives of the project at different hierarchical levels namely goal, purpose, results and major activities. The data related to risk/assumptions of a project are also necessary to be gathered to monitor the status of assumptions in course of project implementation overtime.
Both qualitative and quantitative methods are used for data gathering as and when necessary. Some major survey instruments are used for data collection as follows:
- Questionnaire- used by interviewers.
- Perception survey-opinions are collected.
- Observation-behavior and various responses are observed.
- Telephone and mail survey- written responds or interview.
- Focused group discussion– sharing of ideas and experiences with specific groups.
- PRA (Participatory Rural Appraisal)-sharing of ideas and experiences with rural groups.
- Review with stakeholders-meeting and discussions.
Data gathering is a regular task for project management and this should be updated regularly. Optimum utilization of data collected should be ensured by the project management for obtaining maximum benefit out of it. The success of effective base line study as well as monitoring and evaluation are dependent on quality data collection. The real picture relating to impact evaluation in terms of effectiveness, efficiency, relevance and sustainability can only be obtained through quality data collection on the specific areas. On the other hand a “Data graveyard” can frustrate the aim of carrying out baseline survey, monitoring and evaluation in an effective way.