Since 2019, the EvalParticipativa initiative, a community of practice and learning for participatory evaluation in Latin America and the Caribbean, has been run by PETAS, the only academic centre in the region with a research and training programme specialising in collaborative and participatory evaluation approaches; together with the Focelac+ project, run by the German Institute for Development Evaluation (DEval); and the Costa Rican Ministry of Planning (Mideplan). After the first two years of the project came to a close, the UNSJ and Focelac+ renewed their agreement so they could run new activities in 2021-2022 with the aim of continuing in the same spirit and deepening the initiative’s scope.
In line with the 2030 Agenda and the Sustainable Development Goals, we centre our focus on strengthening the role of civil society in policy and programme evaluations that directly affect them. We are guided by our desire to increase the participation of various different social stakeholders and give them leading roles when evaluating initiatives that affect and involve them. This means we have to deepen knowledge around conditions and mechanisms that facilitate or complicate effective citizen participation in evaluation processes.
Over the next 18 months, we intend to continue learning from concrete experiences of participatory evaluation in the region, maximising their scope of influence and sharing methods and tool. This work stems from our conviction that these approaches:
- strengthen participating organisations so that they have greater control over their own development;
- improve their capacity to reflect, analyse and propose solutions,
- benefit from new and different knowledge held by relevant stakeholders in order to create better policies, programmes and projects; and
- contribute to building more inclusive and equal societies.
We are guided by our objective to maximise the inclusive involvement of civil society in evaluation processes by strengthening and consolidating EvalParticipativa as a community of practice and learning, facilitating the multiplication and institutionalisation of this evaluation approach and initiating training processes on the same topic.
The activities that we have planned can be grouped into the following categories:
1. MANAGING THE COMMUNITY OF PRACTICE AND LEARNING
Evalparticipativa’s online platform has been the hub and meeting place for this evaluation community. We will work on maintaining and keeping its different sections up to date, adding posts, handbooks and tools as well as identifying and documenting new experiences of high-quality Participatory Evaluation and meaningful lessons on the topic in the region.
The space for exchanging and sharing information will be hosted online through thematic forums as requested by members of the EvalParticipativa community. And we will extend the practice of sharing our web content through social networks and platforms: Instagram, Facebook, LinkedIn.
2. PROMOTING PE INSTITUTIONALISATION IN THE REGION
We intend to offer talks to disseminate information on the reality of participatory evaluation in conferences, postgraduate courses and events. We will recover some of the valuable articles and experiences documented on the EvalParticipativa platform in order to publish an online document or booklet.
We also want to set up the EvalParticipativa Prize for the best academic production regarding Participatory Evaluation, open to evaluations, research projects, essays and theses on participatory evaluation.
3. DISEMMINATING AND FACILITATING THE USE OF THE SOWING AND HARVESTING HANDBOOK
We will reinforce activities that present and disseminate the Sowing and Harvesting handbook. We will create audio-visual material that illustrates its content with real examples, both in terms of participatory evaluation cases and in experiences of meaningful lessons. In addition to the printed version of the handbook, we will publish the English version digitally to enable us to further dialogue with stakeholders from other regions.
4. COURSES TO FACILITATE PARTICIPATORY EVALUATIONS
We will develop participatory evaluation training sessions, both online and in-person. The latter will be delivered to agencies of our main funder, the German Cooperation Ministry, with an initial focus on Ecuador and Colombia that will then be expanded to the rest of Latin America and the Caribbean.
We will begin a process of identifying organisations interested in this in order to combine efforts and implement it. These may be non-governmental development organisations, academic institutions, civil organisations, etc. The course will enable us to present and implement the Teaching Guide with the participants in order to facilitate participatory evaluation courses.
As can be seen, the future is sure to be busy and exciting for those of us who are seeking to make evaluation experiences increasingly participatory. We trust that the members of our community of practice and learning, EvalParticipativa, will be increasingly active and that we will gain new members interested in the topic. We are very pleased with the support and attention received so far, and we would like to invite you to continue to contribute your experiences so we can mutually help each other advance. We will keep you informed of advances and news. See you soon.