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Conducting baseline assessments

Last edited: December 29, 2011

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Baseline data is used as a starting point for gauging progress towards the goal and objectives of a project and measuring the level and direction of change. It establishes a basis for comparing the situation before and after an intervention, which can be used to better understand the contributions or evaluate the effectiveness of a specific programme. (See the Monitoring and Evaluation module to learn more about conducting a baseline analysis).

Based around a programme’s specific monitoring framework, baseline assessments with police and other security actors may involve (but is not limited to) gathering information around:

  • Sector and institutional policies and protocols

  • Systems for case and record management within police institutions

  • Institutional capacities and human resource competencies (including infrastructure, operational mechanisms, technical skills)

  • Knowledge, attitudes and practices of security personnel related to gender equality and violence

  • Women and girls’ experience with police and other security actors (including perceptions, support received by survivors  and cases of violence perpetrated by uniformed personnel)

  • Community-based security mechanisms and collaboration with police


Example: Baseline Study: Strengthening state and civil society action to overcome violence against women in Haiti (UNIFEM)

In 2008, UNIFEM conducted a baseline study in Haiti for its programme “Supporting Women’s Engagement in Peace building and Preventing Sexual Violence in Conflict”. The study aimed to provide an overview of the patterns of violence against women and existing interventions to address the issue, and to review the proposed outcomes and indicators of the programme in order to provide the basis for future monitoring and evaluation plans. Conducted over a 6-week period, the study involved an initial desk review of available published and grey literature, followed by in-country research comprising 37 in-depth interviews and 11 focus group discussions with key informants, including national and local level officers from the National Police. The interview and focus group guides were tested in one area during a pilot phase before being finalized. A deliberate choice was made not to involve survivors in the research, given time limitations and measures required to ethically adapt research techniques for the purpose.

Research questions covered women and girls’ experiences of violence as well as the capacity of the National Police and other actors to respond to violence against women. For example:

  • What kinds of violence are experienced by people in these areas? How frequent and how serious are they considered to be?

  • What forms of sexual and gender-based violence take place in the communities included in the study? When, where and how often do they take place? Who is responsible?

  • What mechanisms/bodies/initiatives, whether formal or informal, currently exist in the communities included in the study for:

a) preventing/deterring/reducing violence and

b) responding to violence? Do they themselves use violence to achieve their goals? How effective are they? Do they include women? Do they respond to women’s priorities?

Key Findings:

  • Considerable recognition of the role of police in providing security at a community level.

  • Inconsistent responses by police to calls for intervention due to lack of transport or fuel; at times, police demanded a cash payment to respond.

  • Police reported their use of mediation at times, trying to reconcile couples, though they were obliged to take formal action in cases of child abuse or serious physical harm.

  • The role of the National Coordinator for Women’s Affairs within the Police allowed the Concertation Nationale (a joint body bringing together state institutions, international organizations, and civil society to address gender-based violence) to gain access to key individuals within the police hierarchy, though her junior rank and lack of resources meant that her role was sometimes marginalized. Some gender focal points were appointed, though these also lacked resources required to carry out their duties.

  • Lack of systematic training on gender-based violence– conducted at the police academy for some recruits or in short sessions organized by the UN peacekeeping mission MINUSTAH.

  • While in some cases the reception of survivors was reported to be well-handled, in others, women’s organizations reported a tendency to blame survivors.

  • Plans had been developed to open women’s police desks at a number of pilot stations.

Source: Spraos. 2008. Strengthening state and civil society action to overcome violence against women in Haiti: UNIFEM.