Greeting colleagues,

We greet you on behalf of the Evaluation with Participation, team, a joint initiative between Ministry of Planning evaluation units in Costa Rica (MIDEPLAN) and the state of Jalisco in Mexico. As with EvalParticipativa, we have technical and financial support from the FOCELAC project. Yet we feel linked to this project for more than just these reasons: a central hypothesis of our work is that an openness to bringing different interest groups to participate in projects and programs puts to use evaluation methods that better respond to some of the core 2030 Agenda principles.

We are convinced that mutual learning lies not only in what we have in common, but also, perhaps even more so, where we differ. For this reason, we hope you will take advantage of the fantastic opportunity that this forum offers to identify similarities and differences between both initiatives. Thus, in this post we will briefly describe our work and invite you to join us in reflecting on some questions that can guide us. We are already very grateful for your participation.

Our project’s main interest is focused on incorporating a set of diverse stakeholders who are usually left out of managing or coordinating evaluation processes so that they are involved in deciding what should be evaluated and how or why it should be done. One of our purposes includes exploring to what extent this type of proposal generates better evaluations that are more useful to a greater number of people, without leaving anyone behind, aligning with 2030 Agenda principles and helping to enhance the collective understanding of the program being evaluated. We also want to reflect on the extent to which it is appropriate and feasible to incorporate multi-stakeholder platforms into evaluation management. This could bring numerous institutions and units relevant to the multidimensional issues that our public programs seek to address together with groups of people that are affected by these problems or needs.

For the institutions in charge of the programs, particularly in the case of a country’s public administration, participation changes the rules of the game completely. Power roles are levelled and there is greater openness and more horizontal relationships right from the first step in the process. After several experiences with the FOCEVAL project, MIDEPLAN developed a Guide to Evaluation with Participation , which tries to envisage how, when and why different interest groups should be integrated into these evaluation processes from the perspective of public institutions.

But this guide needs to be trialled for it to “come to life”. For this reason, the evaluation units of MIDEPLAN and Evalúa Jalisco have come to an agreement with FOCELAC to apply its principles in two evaluations that are part of our respective evaluation agendas.

In Costa Rica, the evaluation with participation pilot is applied to the “Promoting personal autonomy for persons with disabilities” program, run by the National Council for Persons with Disabilities (CONAPDIS). And, in Jalisco, the evaluation with participation pilot is applied to the Mi pasaje (My landscape) program which helps provide transport for people with disabilities, older adults and students, led by the Secretariat of the Social Welfare System.

As the entities responsible for managing these evaluations, MIDEPLAN and Evalúa Jalisco will coordinate the management of evaluation processes, identify the key stakeholders and facilitate their participation. An external consultant, with the support of FOCELAC, will supervise both processes, accompanying and systematising the experience to identify lessons that have been learnt and material that can be used as practical illustrations in the Evaluation guide together with MIDEPLAN.

In the last quarter of 2019 we launched the evaluations which brought a sample of institutional and collective stakeholders together with direct service users of these programs. We embarked on collectively constructing reference terms to commission these evaluations with participation.

We were at this stage of the process when the lockdown was put in place. We still have some significant challenges to understand and share: how to hire evaluation teams that are sensitive to this experimental and participatory approach; animate participation spaces, generating opportunities to give away ownership at each stage of the evaluation. It is also important to encourage the active participation of stakeholders in an interactive dialogue with the evaluation teams, providing access to information and guiding collective reflection on the interpretation of findings or the generation of conclusions and recommendations. And, in line with this pilot’s motive, we will obviously implement and use evaluation with participation: to assess the extent to which it fosters a broader and better use of evaluation when multiple stakeholders are involved.

Having explained who we are and what we do, we will now return to this post’s objective and invite you to share your point of view on the following questions concerning Participatory Evaluation and Evaluation with Participation .

Where do these ideas converge? Is there any difference between them?

To what extent can the requirements of these evaluations be fulfilled given existing administrative procedures and the resources available?

When should the evaluation teams be incorporated into this process: before or after the questions are formulated?

Are the institutions that lead these programs ready to give up their leading role and not be shocked by genuine participation?

You can share your opinions in this post’s comments section or through the EvalParticipativa online forum, which you should subscribe to first if you haven’t already.  Many thanks!

If you are interested in receiving more detailed information or contacts related to the Evaluation with Participation project, you can get in touch with us directly:

Karol Cruz Ugalde, MIDEPLAN Costa Rica:

Radamanto Portilla, EVALUA Jalisco: 

Alejandra Gomez , DEval Team – FOCELAC:

Juan Murciano, FOCELAC consultant:

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