Programs and projects are required to establish the status quo of a context before they implement their interventions. Such initial baseline studies are a combination of desk and field-based information analysis to describe the beginning and exact context that the project will address. The studies contribute to a more systematic detailed problem analysis and the identification of appropriate interventions (solution analysis), stakeholder and partner identification, and the nature of transformation to be targeted. Benchmarking is an analysis of a project’s intervention progress compared to target results (the status of selected progress or success indicators). Projects characterize on-going interventions. Through benchmarking and situational analyses, project teams are able to learn what needs to be done to be more effective.
Baseline and benchmarking studies are essential entry points for related research, monitoring and evaluation systems and processes. They help in establishing a beginning point to be used as a counterpoint for comparison with progress and success. Methods of data collection will vary and analysis depends on what is being studied.
RTA’s Baseline, Situational Benchmarking Projects
CAP Youth Empowerment Institute (CAP YEI) Gender Inclusivity Study (April, 2019)
CAP YEI commissioned a study to analyse the extent to which its program has (since its inception) been designed to be gender-inclusive, the extent of success in this, and any supporting and limiting barriers to gender growth. The objectives of this study were developed in detail during inception interactions between CAP YEI’s management and RTA as its Learning Partner.
Right Track Africa (Julius Nyangaga, Esther Kihoro, Charles Nduhiu, Grace Njoroge) carried out a study using Utilization Focused Evaluation (UFE) principles in 2019 to analyse the extent to which the CAP Youth Empowerment Institute (CAP YEI) project has been gender-inclusive. The study developed lessons and recommendations on how the program could improve gender inclusivity, equity and benefits.
Baseline study for CIAT project on climate-smart dairy systems in East Africa (Jun, 2018)
Right Track Africa (RTA) was hired March to June 2018 to undertake a baseline study for the project “Climate-smart dairy systems in East Africa through improved forages and feeding strategies: enhancing productivity and adaptive capacity while mitigating GHG emissions”. The project was implemented by the International Centre for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT). Data was collected from sites representing agro-ecological systems in each of the two project countries – Rwanda and Tanzania. In Rwanda, the selected districts are Nyanza, Nyagatare and Burera. In Tanzania, the districts were the high density of dairy cattle: Mufindi, Njombe and Rungwe. The sites represented an agro-ecological gradient.
RTA (Julius Nyangaga, Charles Nduhiu, and Grace Njoroge) developed a technical report from the project’s baseline study. The report described areas that were studied, the findings, and recommendations for further analysis in each specific area. In addition, the report recommended a monitoring plan that was to be used to monitor and evaluate the project’s progress and effects.
An analysis of CAP YEI’s Capacity Building Model (April, 2017)
The CAP-Youth Empowerment Institute (CAP YEI) is an NGO funded by the MasterCard Foundation. It is a non-governmental organisation founded in 2011, in partnership with other funding organizations such as the EU, GIZ and others, that provides employability and entrepreneurship skills and linking vulnerable young people between 18 and 25 years of age to livelihood opportunities. The vulnerability in the youth refers to poverty, schooling dropout, early motherhood or those in conflict with the law. CAP YEI has been training using the Basic Employability Skills Training (BEST) through three models. In the first model (“Demonstration”) CAP YEI establishes and operates training centres where the youth are trained. In the second model (“Replication”) CAP YEI conducts the training in a hosting institution. In the third model (“Capacity Building”) offers the training to instructors of public/private institutions who are then expected to use selected BEST elements in their programs.
In 2017, RTA (Julius Nyangaga, Charles Nduhiu, Grace Njoroge) was assigned the task of analysing the third model. The study was an exploration of how the capacity-building model has been implemented, and the lessons that can be drawn to improve its continued application. RTA used principles from Utilization Focused Evaluation (UFE) for the study, with findings and recommendations grouped around four primary uses identified by the commissioners of the study: (1) To learn how to select counties to engage with, (2) Which VTCs to recruit trainees from, (3) How to support the adoption of BEST Steps learned, and (4) Identify external assumptions for adoption and uptake of BEST model.
Kenya’s new (2010) constitution has devolved governance of many national services to sub-regional county levels, with the TVET (Technical and Vocational Education and Training) system being one of those functions. The study showed that CAP YEI introduces an overview of the BEST model to TVETA county directors and VTCs managers. CAP YEI staff then develop an interactive relationship with selected VTC instructors to discuss institutional challenges that will best be addressed by the BEST training. The TVET trainers (managers and instructors) had the freedom to choose the BEST steps they were interested in, fitting or aligning them into the TVET training cycles. This varied uptake was the most prominent characteristic of the Capacity Building model, and the study findings provided much detail and recommendations.
Analysis of CAP YEI Samasource (Jun 2016)
In June 2015, CAP YEI, Samaschool and Samasource collaborated on a training model to equip youth with ICT skills that would enable them to take up Business Process Outsourcing (BPO) opportunities. The objective was to develop the capacities of the youth for employment and entrepreneurship in the ICT sector.
By June 2016, more than 187 young women and men have graduated from the program, and the implementing partners assigned RTA (Julius Nyangaga, Charles Nduhiu, Esther Kihoro, Grace Njoroge, Sarafina Wanja) to document the collaborative model. The specific requested was a case study analysis that would assess the modalities and strengths of the model and document the conditions necessary for its effective success. The study also identified the internal and external factors that affect the collaborative model including the nature of engagement and policy environment and global trends that affect such partnerships in the ICT industry.
Drafting discussion papers on ILRI’s M&E experiences with the Crop Goat Project (Aug 2014)
In August 2014, the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI) sought to hire consultants to prepare two discussion papers related to M&E experiences and results within the “Crop and Goat Project (CGP) in Tanzania RTA (Julius Nyangaga and Harrison Rware) were given the assignment.
Julius developed the first paper titled “An assessment of the Participatory M&E approach and tools employed in CGP”. The paper was an assessment of the M&E tools developed for the project, which allowed both intervention and project management data to be collected simultaneously. The paper compared to other M&E systems employed in similar projects. Harrison prepared the second paper, titled “Aspirations of dairy goat producers and preliminary outcomes of dairy goat project”, which was an investigation of the effects of the project-specific beneficiary selection procedures on the beneficiaries. Both papers were used to contribute to ILRI’s wider research agenda in strengthening targeting and M&E approaches in livestock value chains.