PARTICIPATORY EVALUATION INSIDE THE TREASURE CHEST

The third day began with a “treasure” hunt! But instead of searching for golden coins, the participants were let loose in the large hotel patios to find elements which make the participatory evaluation process more rigorous and legitimate.

In two groups, the participants looked for cards which featured steps involved in the traditional evaluation process but which also evoke basic aspects of PE. This led to a conversation about the sought-after rigorousness involved in: identifying stakeholders, formulating objectives and questions to gather information, creating working plans, gathering information, analysis and reporting as well as improvement measures.

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LEARNING AS A COMPASS FOR PARTICIPATORY EVALUATION

The sun decided to shine brightly, expressing its desire to participate in today’s activities. And so we began the second day in the hotel gardens. We summarised and reassessed the first day’s sessions with an evaluation which went beyond the scope of being a fun activity to enable us to reaffirm that learning is always better when done as a group.

The first part of the morning consisted in presenting three experiences which had the common theme of learning as a tool for collective empowerment.

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PARTICIPATORY EVALUATION AS A KEY TO EMPOWERMENT FIRST DAY OF THE GATHERING FROM THE EARTH’S ‘CENTRE’.

With welcoming smiles and anticipation in their eyes, the participants shared their accents, nuances and idioms around a single topic: their experiences with Participatory Evaluation.

After personal and institutional introductions, one question caught the participants by surprise: “What do I like about myself.

Despite their humility and the fact that they were not used to talking so openly about themselves, everyone agreed on the same characteristics; passionate, intrepid, curious, humble and ready to learn. It was as if Participatory Evaluation attracts all those willing to be disruptive, not only in their personal lives but also in all the domains they come into contact with.

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AT THIS FAIR, THERE ARE NEITHER GOODS TO BE SOLD NOR TRADERS TO SELL THEM ONLY TOOLS FOR PARTICIPATORY EVALUATION

In this First Gathering of Participatory Evaluation Experiences in the region of Latin America and the Caribbean, we will not only speak about PE, its concepts, the roles of those involved and ways of facilitating its processes. We will also host the First PE Tools Fair!

One of the things that all of the case studies selected for this gathering have in common is the use of imagination as the master key.

Through different unpublished strategies, the various participants have promoted and facilitated the development of processes unique to PE. In doing so, the entertaining elements together with the participatory instruments and techniques have enabled and motivated the intervention and involvement of multiple stakeholders.

We are not intending for this activity to be a tool swapping fair for PE, but rather that it will be a space conducive for the collective analysis of the instruments’ limitations, their versatile natures depending on the region and even, who knows, a place where new strategies could be developed.

Put succinctly, tomorrow is the big day! The day we have all been waiting for over the last few months. We are all encouraged and motivated by a common denominator: Participatory Evaluation.

The next few days will be intense as we not only learn more about PE, but also soak ourselves in the experiences lived by our peers and ask ourselves: “What would we have done?” as we admire each of the steps taken.

We will certainly not only be participants in this gathering, but also agents motivated by social transformation and development where we are.

We have arrived in Quito! Welcome to this Tinkunaco, which in Quechua means ‘meeting place’!

EVERYTHING CHANGES, NOTHING STAYS THE SAME; PE TOO!

In as dynamic a reality as the one we are living in, it is imperative that the evaluator adapts to different rhythms. To achieve this, the evaluators must promote tools to facilitate PE processes. But, how do you do this?

During this First Gathering of Participatory Evaluation Experiences in the region of Latin America and the Caribbean, we will constantly ask ourselves about our role as evaluators when facing changeable and unique realities such as those which affect our region. We will mainly focus on how we should act when confronted with these “forks in the road” which appear overnight. In other words, we will focus on seeing ourselves not just as evaluators but also as facilitators in PE processes.

In these exchanges, we will learn to go a little faster than time itself so that in addition to getting a head start on future unpredictability, we can also know how to give a leading role to the multiple stakeholders involved in this evaluative process.

This task is the opposite of simple. For this reason, we will dedicate a whole day to working on this new element involved in being an evaluator and we will examine each of the participant’s experiences.  By doing so, we will create collective tools so that we are prepared, and can prepare for, these continual learning processes which will then be converted into transformative and facilitative knowledge for PE.

How exciting that we are about to meet!

NEITHER RECIPES NOR RECIPE BOOKS

One of the themes which will intersect the First Gathering of Participatory Evaluation Experiences for the region of Latin America and the Caribbean is that of how to conduct PE. Is there only one way? What factors do you have to take into account? What to do when confronted with unexpected situations?

The truth is that there are no magic recipes which can be used to come up with universal solutions for every unexpected moment when conducting PE. Nor will we present an exhaustive guide on how to conduct PE in specific circumstances. Rather, what we aim to do is to collectively construct a basic method which can be altered to suit the characteristics of each situation, context and particular case.

In doing so, through reflective practice, we will observe and analyse each step, the roles of each stakeholder and each stage. We will obviously also emphasise the potential difficulties and limitations. As they say: a smooth sea never made a skilled sailor.

Quito, we are on our way!

PARTICIPATORY EVALUATION HAS THAT ‘JE NE SAIS QUOI’

They say “each follows their own rulebook” but what would happen if we converted these different viewpoints and approaches into a common shared perspective? At this First Gathering of Participatory Evaluation Experiences for the region of Latin America and the Caribbean  we will attempt to do just that.

But we must insist: By saying that, we are not suggesting that we intend to develop a general definition and by doing so, simplify it. Let’s be honest: No, just the opposite! In line with the horizontal action proposed by PE, we aim to propose a space where everyone can share their distinct perceptions, concepts, ideas and appreciations of PE.

In this way, we will be able to shine a light on those defining features which are repeated in the region. We will almost certainly dare to call some of these PE principles in our quest to be disruptive, but we will also be happy to observe any unique characteristics which make an evaluation truly participatory.

All participants will use their own experiences to discover how their realities take on different lights when viewed through the eyes of PE.

Bye for now!

THE SHOES OF PARTICIPATORY EVALUATION, THE FEET OF THE EVALUATOR

Can one experience represent all experiences? Who walks the path? Does PE establish the path or does the evaluator open the way? Over the next few days, we will try to answer these and other questions.

The leading role for this gathering is given to the experiences themselves. Over 5 days, using 15 experiences with evaluator peers, we will be able to zoom in on PE through their eyes despite the fact that they have been carried out in various regions.

Aside from the quantity and diversity of experiences, their value lies in the fact that they were and are transformative in their communities. In such tumultuous times as those today in our region, this is no mean feat. Through the stories, we will be able to observe the tools used, feel the challenges experienced and understand through their experiences that one PE is not the same as all PE.

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THE COUNTDOWN IS ON ‘TIL WE MEET

In just five days, we will host the First Gathering of Participatory Evaluation Experiences for the region of Latin America and the Caribbean, and we want to invite you to enjoy the run-up with us.

Over the next few days, we will share everything that we are excited about regarding this gathering. That way, you will participate with us, from our perspective, through our eyes. And by doing so, you will become another one of the participants in this experience.

As you already know, the First Gathering of Participatory Evaluation Experiences for the region of Latin America and the Caribbean will take place in Quito, Ecuador from the 18 to the 22 of November.

Close your eyes (metaphorically! we want you to keep reading this post!) and imagine that you have the ability to teleport yourself. Not just to Quito, but imagine that you had the ability to go, in the blink of an eye, to various places in Latin America and experience different experiences in distinct communities, observe and debate about the roles involved in these situations, get fully informed… and all this through the Participatory Evaluation lens.

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