Training Session

Population-based surveys as a tool to measure armed violence: quality vs. value for money'

Optional training session to be delivered in the frame of the expert meeting group by the Geneva Declaration and the Peacebuilding Platform.

Date and Time: Wednesday 26 June 2013 (12:30 – 17:30)

Location: Villa Barton at the Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies (Geneva, Switzerland)

Provider of the training session: Small Arms Survey


Prior to the Expert Meeting participants had the opportunity to attend a training session on surveys as an important instrument for evidence gathering in the context of armed violence monitoring systems. This training session, which took place on 26 June 2013, was delivered by the Small Arms Survey, an independent research project located at the Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies in Geneva. It serves as the principal international source of public information on all aspects of small arms and armed violence and as a resource for governments, policy-makers, researchers, and activists.

This training session was aimed at persons working in institutions measuring and monitoring armed violence, as well as at persons working at policy and programming level data and analysis generated by observatories.

Rationale of the training session

Population-based surveys are a popular tool for armed violence monitoring systems. Whereas other types of data sources like vital registration statistics or administrative data may be difficult to access and their quality out of control, surveys can be undertaken directly by the AVMS or observatory. Population-based surveys therefore represent an attractive instrument to gather information about the direct and indirect experiences of violence in communities as well as perceptions, attitudes and beliefs. In violence affected, post-conflict, and low-resource settings, population based-surveys are crucial to provide evidence for programming as they aid in generating representative statistics when other data are often not available. The implementation of population based surveys in such settings, however, can pose important methodological challenges, involve significant costs and raise questions about their quality. The successful implementation of a population based survey in challenging settings requires that certain logistical, cultural, ethical and contextual constraints are handled with sensitivity. If these various elements are not dealt with correctly then the implementation of a survey may become overly expensive, or too labour intensive, or its quality too low, thereby making it poor “value for money”. The training session discussed how to avoid such a situation, by addressing practical aspects related to survey administration. The aim was to provide participants with tools and skills for assessing the question of a survey’s minimum quality standards and ethical requirements while considering its ‘value for money’.


AGENDA – Wednesday 26th June


Welcome and Introduction (coffee and sandwiches available)


Session 1. Value for money: what is “good enough”?

This session focuses on costs consideration related to the design and implementation of surveys in post-conflict and low-resource settings. It aims at discussing what it “good enough” in terms of balancing the need to limit the costs of surveys without compromising the ethical requirements and the accuracy of results.




Session 2. Use of new technologies as a cost-saving mechanism

This session focuses on the viability of digital data collection for large scale population-based surveys. It aims at discussing how the enhancement of the cellular network infrastructure and the spread of mobile phones in developing countries have made digital data collection a valuable alternative to paper data processing systems. Also, the session looks at how the initial investment in devices could result in long term cost savings and enhanced replicability of large scale population-based surveys.







Session 3. ‘Good enough’ revisited.

Based on the results of Session 1, the session positions population-based surveys as one of the (main) tools for data gathering used by AVMS, and provide examples of how they can be used to construct key indicators for armed violence reduction policies and programmes.