Dear colleagues and friends of EvalParticipativa: after a little over a year of work, we are delighted to officially launch and share with you the documentary series, SOWING & HARVESTING, an accompaniment to the participatory evaluation handbook of the same name.
Its five episodes, based on experiences from Mexico, Guatemala, Costa Rica, Colombia and Chile, aim to illustrate the lessons learned from participatory monitoring and evaluation practices developed by different organisations in Latin America. To do this, we have selected emblematic and noteworthy cases from the region to illustrate their different nuances, levels of participation, processes and the participatory tools they use.
We have tried to let the experiences of participatory evaluation speak for themselves through the voices of their protagonists, in the hope of generating interest in learning more about this type of evaluation. More than a hundred people have participated directly or indirectly in this documentary, sharing their experiences in front of the camera or providing information, making contacts available, or helping to organise field trips. As we travelled through each country, we interviewed the direct beneficiaries of the different interventions and the technical teams in charge of the programmes and projects. Together with officials, policy makers and the people who facilitated these evaluations, they have reflected on the processes and lessons that have resulted from their evaluation experiences in the different contexts and realities, and described their achievements and difficulties.
The documentary serves a double purpose: it both sows and harvests multiple insights and knowledge. In its five episodes, we seek to reflect the thinking, perceptions and collective learning of the many colleagues who have been working on and deepening participation and social inclusion dynamics in evaluation processes in the region. Its production has been possible thanks to the joint efforts of various entities: PETAS, the Research Program on Employment, Environment and Society at the National University of San Juan (Argentina), and the Focelac+ project “Strengthening a Culture of Evaluation and Learning in Latin America with a Global Outlook”, a joint initiative of the DEval, the German Institute for Development Evaluation and Mideplan, the Costa Rican Ministry of Planning and Economic Policy. Examples drawn from different local organisations have been included in each episode, providing content and shape to this audiovisual product of the EvalParticipativa Community of Practice and Learning.
You can see the documentary trailer here.
The following paragraphs provide a brief introduction to each of the chapters.
PART 1. “FEELING HEARD” (MEXICO)
This episode explores the participatory evaluation experience of the ‘Mi Pasaje’ (My Ticket) programme, implemented between 2019 and 2020 with the main purpose of analysing the relevance of the project’s design and how effectively and efficiently it was implemented.
The evaluation strategy opted to involve the officials responsible for implementing the programme and its beneficiaries in deciding what to evaluate and why. Thus, it involved representatives of SPPC, the Secretariat of Planning and Citizen Participation; SSAS, the Secretariat of the Social Assistance System; ST, the Secretariat of Transport; TISA, the smart cards company; and beneficiaries of the programme.
PART 2. “EVALUATING TO TRANSFORM” (GUATEMALA)
This episode presents the experience of the participatory monitoring of the outcomes, impacts and processes of AWO international partner organisations in Guatemala. It explores the adoption and use of the toolkit produced by the organisation ONG Ideas, from the perspective of the participants.
As such, representatives of the Multisectoral Association of Monitoring of Migrant Health and Support and the Community-led Association of Health Services describe the participatory monitoring system they have adopted.
PART 3. “FACILITATING THE EVALUATION” (COSTA RICA)
This episode focuses on the participatory evaluation of the Cancer Care and Prevention Services in Valle de la Estrella, in the Huétar Atlántico region, Limón, Costa Rica.
This experience was promoted by the Focelac+ project “Strengthening a Culture of Evaluation and Learning in Latin America with a Global Outlook”, implemented by DEval, jointly with the Costa Rican Ministry of National Planning and Economic Policy, with the support and participation of the Costa Rican Ombudsman’s Office (Defensoría de los Habitantes) and CCSS, the Social Security Fund of Costa Rica.
The evaluation was implemented in such a way as to enable a broad involvement of multiple actors, principally representatives of the Health Boards, who, thanks to outstanding local facilitation, were able to take on leading roles throughout the evaluation process. The evaluation made use of multiple tools, some of them specifically designed for it, such as a game called “Myths and Beliefs about Cancer” designed to inspire reflection.
PART 4. “EVALUATING TO LEARN” (COLOMBIA)
This episode introduces the participatory evaluation of the A Ciencia Cierta programme in Colombia and the systematisation of the experience.
This programme promotes the social appropriation of knowledge and aims to identify, make visible, recognise and strengthen experiences developed by community organisations in the areas of science, technology and innovation. These are then shared with other Colombians through citizen participation processes and the exchange of knowledge through dialogue.
The Colombian Ministry of Science, Technology and Innovation has promoted spaces for reflection and learning based on these experiences across the country, using evaluation methodologies and systematising the practice. These initiatives have made it possible to develop a new understanding of the social appropriation of knowledge processes, their difficulties, tensions and opportunities. The episode illustrates how, at the same time the communities recognised the importance of adopting a critical attitude towards scientific and technological proposals, assessing their scope, benefits, limitations and risks, the popular knowledge systems and the first-hand experiences of the communities were also validated by the scientific community.
PART 5. “EVALUATING TO GROW” (CHILE)
This episode features the participatory evaluation of the intervention of the Servicio País programme in Riñinahue, Lago Ranco commune, Los Ríos region, Chile.
Servicio País is the social intervention programme created by the Fundación para la Superación de la Pobreza (Foundation for Overcoming Poverty), which supports inclusive local development processes in the most remote and vulnerable areas of the country by providing professional staff who work directly with the communities.
The participatory evaluation of this programme contributed to organisational strengthening, fostering the committed participation and internal reflection of the participating organisations. The methodology employed to evaluate the process also served as a monitoring tool, improving the social intervention, bringing a broad range of participants together in an innovative way, and creating novel spaces for producing collective agreements and ensuring shared planning processes.
We hope that this audio-visual material will be useful for people who wish to transform evaluation into a tool capable of capturing the wide range of voices and perspectives of those involved in each and every one of the social interventions in our region. We wish each episode, in its own unique way, will motivate people who want to learn how to use participatory evaluation methodologies, learn about the challenges and difficulties associated with territories and interventions of different kinds and value the key role of the individuals who facilitate these processes. We hope that it will become an instrument of dialogue that -by collectively harvesting the fruits of an intervention and of its evaluation- will sow learning experiences and illustrate how to overcome obstacles and improve things now and in the future. We invite you to explore this documentary series, to use it and to share it with your own networks. We hope these experiences will be seen and heard across our Latin American continent and that they will prove helpful to many people.
We wish to thank each and every one of the individuals and organisations that contributed to this ambitious project, and particularly to the participants who are directly, and often quietly, responsible for having made these learning and transformation experiences a reality that is capable of being widely shared.