We have envisaged a series of activities to be run together with various stakeholders in 2019 and 2020. However, it is important to point out that this is only the first stage. Our hope and expectation is that EvalParticipativa will stand the test of time and consolidate itself as a space where experiences are gathered and exchanged for many years to come. We believe that our initiative responds to a gap in the field and we trust that many people linked to this field will find support and answers to their concerns here. We hope that this community of practice and learning will continue to reinvent itself and remain active long after these initial activities.
In the first two years, we have carried out activities in four main areas which are intimately related to each other and can be seen below. It goes without saying that suggestions for new activities linked to the topics are more than welcome.
1. Participatory Evaluation Experiences
In the field of project and programme evaluation in Latin America and the Caribbean, there are several experiences, albeit with different nuances and tools, which have aimed to value and assess their interventions using a participatory approach. There are many project implementation teams, beneficiary organisations and support agencies who reflect on evaluative practices, their advantages and limitations, what they contribute and the possibility to replicate them elsewhere. However, this knowledge is rarely documented, analysed, formalised and systematically shared with the intention of moving beyond the local, practical level to gain a deeper, more enriched reflection across the region on these types of evaluations.
As one of EvalParticipativa’s first activities, an open invitation was issued across the region for documented participatory evaluation experiences. They are currently being shared within the Community of Practice and Learning framework. We have reviewed the experiences’ reports and written and audiovisual materials; paid special attention to how the results have been used and the effects on organisations concerned; and interviewed stakeholders that are central to these processes etc. We are learning from these experiences, documenting them and sharing them in the EXPERIENCES and MEANINGFUL LESSONS section of our website’s RESOURCES section.
In November 2019, we also held our first Latin America and the Caribbean Gathering for Participatory Evaluation Experiences. Its objective was to share experiences; identify common factors in recurrent successes and problems in methodology; and construct shared learning around facilitation processes in order to be able to document all these processes which are often invisible to evaluators in the region. The gathering benefitted from the participation of colleagues who had been closely involved in managing valuable experiences of participatory evaluation.
2. Manual and audiovisuals on participatory evaluation
One of the core activities of the project is to publish a book in the style of a manual on participatory evaluation. For this, we have drawn experiences from past projects our team has worked in; those already written about and published by others; and contributions and reflections from those who participated in the gathering of experiences in 2019. The idea was to generate a useful manual for the region which represents the collective thoughts, feelings and lessons learned from as many colleagues as possible that work in this area.
This manual includes the following sections: 1. What is participatory evaluation? Principles, concepts, types of evaluation approaches which integrate social participation, etc. 2. How to implement Participatory Evaluation processes, The process/method, variants depending on the type of intervention, available time and resources, etc. 3. The role of facilitation in participatory evaluation. This deals with how a facilitator should accompany participatory evaluation processes: guidelines and strategies for facilitating participatory evaluation. 4. Tools for participatory evaluation, emphasising not only the type of tools that could be used but also criteria for selection, advantages and disadvantages according to different contexts, etc. The manual is accompanied by audiovisual material so that the content can be shared in other ways (YouTube and other social networks). We are planning to release the manual at the end of 2020.
We have also identified a unique participatory evaluation experience, one of those that leave a lasting impact, forge a path for others to follow and become a learning instrument. We have selected a case study and produced a video documentary to put human faces and testimonies rooted in practice to the idea of supporting participatory evaluation processes. The documentary, By Reason or By Force, was part of a participatory evaluation conducted for the Working Groups run by TECHO, one of EvalParticipativa’s strategic partners. The evaluation methodology used in this case study was replicated in different countries in the region. Here you can access a post on the documentary, trailer and film in full.
3.Pilot course and toolkit for participatory evaluation
Once the manual and all the materials generated by this community of practice and learning have been published (end of 2020), we are going to run a Pilot Scheme for Participatory Evaluation Training.
The course design serves a double purpose. Firstly, it will systematically present the manual’s content and style, encouraging implementation by facilitators imbued with its focus and conception. It will be grounded in a dialogue-based learning style and is designed with various interested organisations in mind. The course will be guided by evaluation benchmarks, addressing the basic principles, concepts and specific tools to be used in participatory evaluation processes. We hope to host the first edition of the course in 2021.
To kick off the course, we have generated a predesigned training programme which will be available and accessible through our webpage. It will be possible to adapt and recreate it for each local context. This product will form part of the capacity training pack based on the manual. It will be offered as a participatory evaluation toolkit for the region and will be available soon in the materials section of the RESOURCES section.
4. Repository for participatory evaluation
One of the primary purposes of any community is to “share”. There is a wide spectrum of publications on these themes from academic journals and dissemination books to manuals, guides and toolkits which can ease these processes. There is also a valuable set of documented case studies and experiences on the use of methodologies in participatory evaluation.
We hope that this activity boosts solidarity between colleagues in the region as we make this platform available for sharing information and materials which are useful and applicable to our context.
The repository is continually updated, enriched with the contributions of all those people and organisations involved who have material that they wish to share. This repository relies on open access publications (GUIDES AND MANUALS as well as TOOLS). It also has an EXPERIENCES and CASE STUDIES section and another for MEANINGFUL LESSONS. We have recently incorporated a new section with TESTIMONIAL VIDEOS made by members of the community of practice.