Baselines and Targets Required to Improve the Quality of the Fndp Evaluation Programs

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Table of Contents

  • Introduction
  • Baselines And Targets In Monitoring And Evaluation
  • Baselines
    Zero Baseline
  • The Importance of Baselines in Monitoring and Evaluation
  • The Importance of Targets in Monitoring and Evaluation
  • Recommendations for the Seventh National Development Plan (SNDP).
  • Conclusion
  • References


The Zambian government launched the National Long-Term Vision (NLTV) 2030 together with the Fifth National Development Plan (FNDP) that was scheduled for 2006-2010. The government had also helped the improvement of District Development Plans (DDPs) and Provincial Development Plans (PDPs) in order for the FNDP to work in its corresponding fields (JICA, 2007). According to a report my JICA in March 2007: The government developed a five-year development plan and a long- term vision (National Long Term Vision (NLTV) (2030)) which aims at making the country one of the middle income countries by 2030 (‘A Prosperous Middle Income Nation by 2030’) and sets out seven principles, namely: (i) gender responsive sustainable development; (ii) democracy; (iii) respect for human rights; (iv) good traditional and family values; (v) positive attitude towards work; (vi) peaceful coexistence and; (vii) private-public partnerships. In addition to the 21 characteristics as a nation to which Zambians aspire, the NLTV sets out objectives (i.e. attaining and sustaining high levels of economic growth, creation of an environment and investment climate consistent with the socioeconomic development, and so on) and scenarios to realise them. The FNDP was created with respect to the NLTV. It was seen as a significant start in accomplishing its long-term vision and ‘broad based wealth and job creation through citizenry participation and technological advancement’ was the FNDP theme.

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This FNDP was developed to cover 31 sectors, with five priorities (agriculture, infrastructure, health and education and technical development, water and sanitation, and security) (JICA, 2007). In review of the FNDP, the Annual Progress reports detailed the inadequacies of government sectors in reporting on their Key Performance Indicators (KPIs). This was a result of a lack of baselines or targets in the planning process. This paper discusses what baseline and targets are. It explains why they are vital in monitoring and evaluation and it also advises on the correct measures 3 that should be taken to ensure that the seventh national development plan (SNDP) is created with proper planning and baseline and targets.

Baselines And Targets In Monitoring And Evaluation

Every management system wants to see itself achieve the results that it planned for. To comprehend a project’s current position and future, it is cardinal to have a solid understanding of where the project has been. Establishing quality baselines and setting ambitious, yet achievable, targets is essential for the successful management of monitoring and evaluation programs (Tirnauer, 2010).


A baseline is the value of a performance indicator before the implementation of projects or activities (Tirnauer, 2010). This baseline(s) can be established in the following four ways.

  • Pre-existence

If baseline data exist prior to the start of a project or activity, additional data collected over the life of the project must be collected in a consistent manner in order to facilitate comparisons (Johnson et al., 2016). For example, consider the drop-out rate for girls 16 and under. If baseline data are obtained from the Ministry of Education, the project should continue to collect these data from this same source, ensuring that the data collection methodology remains the same (Tirnauer, 2010). Data may also be obtained from a prior implementing partner’s project, provided that the data collection protocols, instruments, and scoring procedures can be replicated (Zervas et al., 2017). For example, a policy index might be used to measure progress of legislation. If these activities become a part of a new project, program managers should consider the benefit of using the same instrument (Tirnauer, 2010). In cases where baseline data exist from primary or secondary sources, it is important that the data meet quality standards for validity, reliability, precision, integrity, and timeliness.

  • Collection

Primary data are collected through a formal survey or a new index. This is costly and so program managers should consider this cost and incorporate it into program or project planning (Tirnauer, 2010). Ideally, data should be collected prior to the initiation of the program. If this is not feasible, baselines should be collected as soon as possible (Johnson et al., 2016).

  • Rolling Basis

In some cases, it is possible to collect baseline data on a rolling basis as implementation proceeds. For example, a health project is being rolled out sequentially across three provinces over a three-year period. Data collected in Lusaka province will serve as baseline for Year One; data collected on the Copperbelt will serve as baseline for the second province in Year Two; and data collected in the third province, Eastern province will serve as baseline for that province in Year Three (Tirnauer, 2010).

Zero Baseline

For some indicators, baselines will be zero. For example, if a new program focuses on building the teaching skills of teachers, the baseline for the indicator “the number of teachers trained” is zero. Similarly, if an output of a new program is the number of grants awarded, the baseline is zero (Tirnauer, 2010). 2.2. Targets A target is the specific, planned level of result to be achieved within an explicit timeframe. Targets exist in the following types.

  • Final and interim targets

A final target is the planned value of a performance indicator at the end of the project. Some targets are often set three to five years away, while others are set one to three years away. Interim targets should be set for 5 the key points of time in between the baseline and final target in cases where change is expected and data can be collected.

  • Quantitative and qualitative targets

Targets may be either quantitative or qualitative, depending on the nature of the associated indicator (Johnson et al., 2016). Targets for quantitative indicators are numerical, whereas targets and for qualitative indicators are descriptive. To facilitate comparison of baselines, targets, and performance data for descriptive data, and to maintain data quality, some indicators convert qualitative data into a quantitative measure. Nonetheless, baseline and target data for quantitative and qualitative indicators must be collected using the same instrument so that change can be captured and progress towards results can be measured accurately (Tirnauer, 2010).

The Importance of Baselines in Monitoring and Evaluation

Baselines help managers determine progress in achieving outputs and outcomes. They also help identify the extent to which change has happened at each level of result. Program managers should provide baseline and target values for every indicator in the evaluation plan (Zervas et al., 2017). Lack of baseline data not only presents challenges for management decision- making purposes, but also hinders evaluation efforts. For example, it is generally not possible to conduct a rigorous impact evaluation without solid baseline data.

The Importance of Targets in Monitoring and Evaluation

Performance targets are important for several reasons. They help justify a program by describing in concrete terms what an organisation or government investment will produce (Busch et al., 2016). Targets orient stakeholders to the tasks to be accomplished and motivate individuals involved in a program to do their best to ensure the targets are met. Targets also help to establish clear expectations for monitoring and evaluation staff, implementing partners, and key stakeholders (Tirnauer, 2010).

Once a program is underway, they serve as 6 the guide posts for monitoring whether progress is being made on schedule and at the levels originally envisioned (Tirnauer, 2010). Targets promote transparency and accountability by making available information on whether results have been achieved or not over time. A natural tension exists between the need to set realistic targets and the value, from a motivational perspective, of setting targets ambitious enough to ensure that staff and stakeholders will stretch to meet them; when motivated, people can often achieve more than they imagine (Tirnauer, 2010). Targets that are easily achievable are not useful for management and reporting purposes since they are, inessence, pro forma (Zervas et al., 2017). Monitoring and evaluation teams should plan ahead for the analysis and interpretation of actual data against their performance targets.

Recommendations for the Seventh National Development Plan (SNDP).

To avoid the failures experienced in the FNDP, the following should be done:

  • Implementing a solid project methodology – Various methodologies exist for different projects. The government must respect the significance of these methods. These methods will guide the SNDP every step of the way during its life cycle. The government can create an outline of the SNDP with the help of these methods (Zervas et al., 2017). This makes it possible for the project managers to control each aspect of the development plan. It also shows citizens and stakeholders that the government has a plan to handle all the risks for the project. It builds trust and confidence in everyone involved.
  • Continuous Monitoring and Evaluation - It is the manager’s duty to know how much work has been done or has to be done for a project to be successful (Aloisi, 2016). This means that the government of Zambia should organize all of its team members to get project updates. These will in turn be shared with the leadership. If there are any changes required, then it can be done in time. It is good to use project management software to coordinate with team members. This enables team members to exchange ideas and 7 information related to the project. It also helps the leadership know how the project work is going on as per the set deadline. An example for the project management software is the popular Basecamp3 tool (Johnson et al., 2016).
  • Effective Communication - One of the reasons many projects fail is due to lack of communication with the team members (Aloisi, 2016). The government should ensure that there is continuous feedback and discussions about the SNDP. The officers involved should be aware of what kind of work is happening at each stage in all the sectors. Consequently, updates should follow and the government should receive accurate reports which reflect the current status of the SNDP. There should be no lack of or bad communication with team members. Today so many channels of communications are available that there is a greater reduction in the possibility for such a thing to occur. The working relationship between team members and the government is a sacred bond. It must be nurtured with time and patience to deliver results (JICA, 2007).
  • Solid baselines and targets - The government should ensure that it collects all relevant information in order to establish baselines. It should also set achievable targets in realistic timeframes.


The FNDP has several failure that could be attributed to varying reasons however, not having solid baselines and targets greatly affected the chances of find success. The start of the plan require baselines and targets to guide the government at each stage along the way but these were not made and the negative effect was enormous. Going forward to the SNDP, solid baselines and targets should be set. Baselines will help the government to determine progress in achieving outputs and outcomes. They also help identify the extent to which change has happened at each level of result of the SNDP. 8 Targets will help validate the SNDP by describing in concrete terms what the government investment will produce. Targets also promote transparency and accountability by making available information on whether results have been achieved or not over time.


  1. Aloisi A. (2016), “Commoditized Workers: Case Study Research On Labor Law Issues Arising From A Set of ‘On-Demand/Gig Economy’ Platforms”, Comp. Labor Law & Pol’y Journal, Vol. 37 No. 653, pp. 653-690.
  2. Busch et al., (2016), 'Discussion Draft of a Directive on Online Intermediary Platforms', Journal of European Consumer and Market Law. Vol. 5 No. 4, pp. 153-196.
  3. JICA, (2007). A Review of the FNDP, PDP and DDP Development Processes Commissioned by JICA in response to a request from the Ministry of Finance and National Planning and the Decentralisation Secretariat, Ministry of Local Government and Housing of the Republic of Zambia. Retrieved from (accessed 4 July 2019).
  4. Jill Tirnauer, (2010). Performance monitoring & evaluation tips baselines and targets. USAID 2nd Edition, number 8. Retrieved from %20Baselines%20and%20Targets.pdf (Accessed on 31 June 2019)
  5. Johnson et al., (2016), Exploring Strategy Text and Cases 11th Edition, Pearson Education Limited, Harlow, United Kingdom.
  6. Zervas et al., (2017), “The rise of the sharing economy: Estimating the impact of planning.” Journal of Marketing Research, Vol. 54 No. 82, pp. 687-705.

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