When planning to carry out a baseline study before any development program, objective and implication of such study should be firmly set in consideration of consistent, effective, and sustainable implementation of the program.
To begin with, those who will execute a program better be in charge of baseline study. This is to prevent any discrepancy in fundamental aspects of program that often occurs in the development scenes when baseline study and program implementation have to be managed by separate groups of people. No matter how objectively a baseline study may be constructed, it must contain some degree of subjectivity as it is processed for providing validity of what is based on it.
For example, when a study has to ask a question about income level of a target group of people, every individual who is directly or indirectly engaged in that study should be able to interpret the question basing the same fundamental ideas and values of the study. If the objective of the study is to find a way for building self-help group, for instance, researching on the level of income will have to provide a good reference in consideration of which practices should be primarily monitored and evaluated.
In line with this, contents of program activities should be able to be revised in judgement of effective and sustainable implementation. Otherwise, proper decision making under varying circumstances will be difficult and this is one of the reasons that development practices are struggling for successful program management.
In technical aspect, conducting baseline study requires practitioners to be experts with knowledge and experience in an area from which the study is oriented. Lets say practitioners have a clear understanding of for which they are carrying out a survey, but information collected turns out incorrect. At a glance, it is the ignorance or lack of the intelligence of those who gave such wrong information, such a case, however, is more likely to happen when practitioners have little knowledge or experience on the culture and environment constituting the lives of a specific group of people that the study is based.
For a better performance, therefore, a baseline study necessarily demands professional capabilities in both the scientific language, as in analyzing statistic data, and cultural language, as in way of people’s thinking to make the result of the study a valuable reference.
The fruit of an effective baseline study becomes a solid foundation based on which monitoring and evaluation of development project can be measured. And this important in the sense that it influences on the sustainability of development. For this reason, it is required to invest sufficient resources in the first place to make sure that the study produces a valid and reliable outcome.
Only when the baseline study is conducted properly, the rest of the process can remain meaningful. Due to the fact, I suggest that 30 % of the whole program budget should be spent for planning and executing a baseline study over a period of more than a year in the target area of the program.
Finally, the physical outcome of any baseline study must be readable and acceptable to the minds of people with exclusive point of view. In other words, it should be summarized as precisely and easily as possible for those, who are not directly involved with, should be able to understand without confusion. In fact, the data becomes valuable as it keeps rules and standards that people comply with in the field of the same study and this is the reason for any data to be written logically in accordance with a language that is understood by most.