Collecting monitoring or evaluation data, as well as the programming itself, can introduce a risk of harm for participants and staff. For example, if confidentiality is not maintained, women who disclose violence may be at risk of ‘backlash’ violence from perpetrators. Women who have experienced violence may feel distress or be retraumatised when being questioned about violence. Conducting research with children or with vulnerable adults (such as women living with disabilities) also introduces additional risks and requires specific plans and protocols.
Appropriate protection mechanisms need to be put in place to minimise harm, such as providing referral mechanisms, having trained counsellors accompany data collectors, and training data collectors to respond to distress. While such harm might be rare, it is essential to have a plan to identify and mitigate it, and our field has developed guidance and tools to do so.