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Budgeting a survey

Budgets depend on local conditions in each country. Staff salary levels vary, and depend to a large extent on a country’s economic situation. There are ways, however, of structuring budgets and timelines that are common to all household survey operations, regardless of country.

Underestimating the value of some items, or failing to anticipate fluctuations in the price of materials between drafting the budget and purchasing the materials, can seriously endanger the success of the project. Great care must be taken when creating a project budget. Experience shows there is a tendency to overlook or undervalue the costs of certain activities, such as training of field staff or analysis, archiving, and dissemination of microdata

Budget preparation

Before the budget can be prepared, one must understand the size of the sample, the period during which data will be collected, and the length of the interview. Only then can the number of field teams be estimated. These basic parameters affect staff costs, outlays on transport and travel allowances, and equipment used. If these parameters are not clearly defined at the start, it is advisable to prepare the budget in several variants, based on different assumptions of size.

All costs must be included in the budget, including staff salaries, regardless of whether they are to be paid by the implementing institution. Technical assistance provided by international bodies should be valued at its real cost, even when it is not paid directly from the budget. If it is not necessary to buy vehicles because those acquired for another project can be used, their value should still be estimated and entered as a cost to be borne by the implementing institution, since the institution would otherwise be using them for another productive purpose. The same philosophy exists for office space; if rooms within the institution are used rather than renting premises, their imputed value should be included in the budget.