Conventional evaluations have got us used to the users or beneficiaries of the programs and public policies becoming involved only as key informants. In a participatory evaluation the parties involved are the protagonists of the whole process. They define who will participate, what will be evaluated and when, what data collection and analysis methods will be used and how the results will be communicated.
Karla Zalazar, who has vast experience in facilitating participatory processes, points out that it is essential to foreground multiple stakeholders throughout the process. “If we are going to talk about participatory evaluation, we have to recognise the necessity of creating spaces for true participation, where every voice and perspective is taken into account. This implies being in close contact with the communities, with the different stakeholders and their views, and not just asking questions”, says the Costa Rican social facilitator.
Karla Salazar is a psychologist with a Master’s in Criminology and a Master’s in Political Science. She currently works as an academic coordinator and researcher at the Latin American Faculty of Social Sciences (Costa Rica Headquarters). She is a lecturer and an independent consultant in the fields of research and evaluation. Her career has been characterised by the direct contact with communities, social organizations and people living with multiple vulnerabilities based on gender, violence and social exclusion, and therein lies her passion for the active participation of people in building knowledge and evidence.