Participatory impact assessment: A design guide

This guide, written by Andy Catley, John Burns, Dawit Abebe, and Omeno Suji for Tufts' Feinstein International Center, provides a framework for practitioners to design and implement a Participatory Impact Assessment (PIA).

The eight stage approach takes users through the process from identifying key questions through to feedback and evaluation.


"This guide aims to bridge the gap by describing a tried and tested approach to measuring the impact of livelihoods projects. The guide avoids standards and indicators, or a blueprint for impact assessment, and instead uses an eight-stage framework which can be adapted to different contexts and project interventions. Similarly, we describe some participatory methods that are particularly useful for understanding impact but which, again, should be adapted to context. In this updated version, the kind and range of examples of PIA has been expanded to include service delivery projects, and the importance of comparisons has been emphasized. Much of the value of PIA is derived from comparing situations at two points in time, or comparing ‘project’ and ‘non-project’ impacts, influences and changes." (Catley, Burns, Abebe, & Suji, 2013)


  • Why measure impact? 3
  • What is a Participatory Impact Assessment? 5
  • When to do an impact assessment 9
  • Designing a Participatory Impact Assessment – an eight-stage approach 10
  • Stage 1: Identifying the key questions 12
  • Stage 2: Defining the boundaries of the project in space and time 13
  • Stage 3: Identifying indicators of project impact 18
  • Stage 4: Choosing the methods 25
  • Stage 5: Sampling 40
  • Stage 6: Assessing project attribution 45
  • Stage 7: Triangulation 51
  • Stage 8: Feedback and validation 53


Catley, A., Burns, J., Abebe, D. & Suji, O. (2013). Participatory Impact Assessment: A Design Guide. Feinstein International Center, Tufts University, Somerville. Retrieved from: