Transect walks are a method for gathering spatial data on an area by observing people, surroundings and resources while walking around an area or community.

Through the observation of specific indicators and the participation of a variety of stakeholders significants amounts of both qualitative and quantitative data can be collected on transect walks.

It is important to engage as wide an array of stakeholders as possible when undertaking the walk. The decision of who to engage should be informed by the indicators which you shall be observing. Different stakeholders will have a different view of a situation based on their experience, expertise, values, gender and age. If a group appears to be too large consider dividing the group and undertaking the same walk a number of times so all views can be properly heard and taken into account.  

The route chosen should be replicated each time the walk is undertaken so as to keep observable variables stable. A transect walk can take anywhere from one hour to one day to complete depending on the distance covered, the terrain of the area and the transport used.

Guijt and Woodhill (2002)

Advice for choosing this method

"This is a relatively inexpensive method for gathering data that can provide valuable insights."

This advice was taken from Guijt, I., & Woodhill, J. (2002).

Advice for using this method

"The drawing of a transect walk is usually a cross-sectional view of the path taken with a table drawn below it for listing findings. If this is too abstract it might be useful to draw the walk as a birds-eye line on the map with related information written alongside"

This advice was taken from Guijt, I., & Woodhill, J. (2002).


Guijt, I., & Woodhill, J. International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), Office of Evaluation Studies. (2002). Managing for impact in rural development: A guide for project M & E, Annex D. Retrieved from website:

Feature image source: Field work drill debriefing by Swanson Scott, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

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