Do NGOs Need to Conduct Baseline Surveys?

As part of CanWaCH’s Canadian Collaborative for Global Health, HealthBridge Foundation of Canada, TRANSNUT at Université de Montréal and Center for Creative Initiatives in Health and Population (CCIHP) have been working on an exciting project called “Maximizing the use of existing data to strengthen program design, evaluation, and impact,” fondly known as ‘MaxData.’ 

Effective global health programming relies on survey data for priority-setting and monitoring of progress. Adequate assessment of baseline conditions is essential when planning programs so that interventions respond to the varying health needs within populations. Non-governmental organizations (NGOs) typically spend substantial human and financial resources to collect and analyze data in target areas to characterize baseline conditions. What if instead of NGOs collecting their own data, they could use publicly available data that already exists?

MaxData aimed to identify indicators related to maternal and child health that could be estimated using publically available data in the context of low- and middle-income countries. A second objective was to assess the impact of differences in year, geographical level and season in the estimation of indicators. We matched NGO baseline indicators with estimates calculated from two sources of publically-available data, following as closely as possible the NGO analysis methods, and matching to the closest year and region available. Case studies were conducted by partners at CCIHP to compare baseline data from project data implemented in Son La province of Vietnam and data from the Multiple Indicator Cluster Surveys (MICS) for Vietnam.

MaxData project
MaxData project dissemination workshop led by partner CCIHP in Hanoi, Vietnam. Thirty attendees participated, including monitoring and evaluation experts, researchers and project officers from NGOs and academic institutions. 

The MaxData research question ended up being more complex than our team originally anticipated. Watch the recording to learn about MaxData’s methods and results, and if civil society is equipped to use publicly available data in their programming and planning.


October 13, 2020


HealthBridge Foundation of Canada