As outlined in the planned activities for EvalParticipativa’s second stage, we are keen to keep adding to the RESOURCES section of our community of practice and learning.
As our colleagues and friends already know, the section already hosts a wide variety of testimonial videos, guides and manuals, tools, case studies and significant lessons. We highlight new and updated material that we add to the repository on our social networks, Facebook, Instagram and LinkedIn: another reason to follow us online!
In this post, we want to highlight four recent additions to the Guides and Manuals section. They all share a clear theme: the empowerment evaluation approach. Although participatory evaluation is the general or umbrella term that refers to stakeholder involvement in evaluation processes in Latin America, the same is not true in the Anglo-Saxon context, where nuances between different evaluation approaches that include or involve stakeholders are more commonly accentuated.
Some of the EvalParticipativa member entities such as Techo, ReLAC, DEval or PETAS, have participated in a working group since 2018 to create an index to measure each country’s evaluation capacities.
This index, based on 76 indicators, has been named INCE and is highly useful for guiding how evaluation is developed at national level. It is also useful for academic production, identifying good practices, opening up opportunities for collaboration within and between nationals, etc.
The participation of Techo and other social organisations in the working group has enabled civil society’s perspective to be integrated into the definitions of the dimensions that make up the INCE. This collective, important and fundamental in how evaluation develops in reality, is also expected to participate in the periodic measurements that are taken in the region’s countries that request it.
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.
We are beginning the second stage of EvalParticipativa with a new activity plan that we will share soon. In the meantime we invite you to listen to the testimony of Juan Carlos Sanz, who represents DEval in the Coordinating Team of this regional initiative.
In this video (English subtitles) Juan highlights the particular features of participatory evaluation, such as the main role that the stakeholders play in analysing and assessing an intervention in which they themselves have been involved. He also emphasises the importance of thoroughness in participatory evaluation as this will provide credibility and will help to adopt the changes and improvements to the evaluated project. Lastly, he extends an invitation to join the Community for Practice and Learning EvalParticipativa so as to exchange lessons learnt and improve abilities in this evaluation approach.
In this video (with English subtitles), Matthias Casasco from TECHO Chile highlights the importance of participatory evaluation as a tool with the potential to provide a bridge between the locals’ voices and decision making.
He also points out how important it is to successfully generate spaces for reflection in the communities to discuss their problems and projects as well as community organising. The main goal of the participatory evaluation process, Matthias claims, is that local stakeholders take ownership of the process.
Matthias Casasco has a Master’s degree in Political Science from Sciences Po Rennes (France). He has specialised in housing and urban development policies. Matthias has been living in Santiago de Chile for nine years and is now in charge of the program for Housing Solutions at the TECHO-Chile foundation. In this capacity, he joins the communities of popular settlements on their journey to their right to adequate housing and connects them with the housing programs of the Chilean state. As a member of the EvalParticipativa community, he has worked on the design and implementation of a participatory evaluation pilot program in the Santa Teresa camp, on the outskirts of Santiago de Chile.
2020 will remain engraved on our memories as the year when the COVID-19 pandemic irrupted into our lives. We experienced on a global scale the depth of our connection and interdependency as well as how closely intertwined our realities are.
In such a context, we are very happy to present this handbook for participatory evaluation which was put together as our response from the field of evaluation. In the face of fragility and the limits of self-sufficiency, we intend to foreground the multitude of voices and experiences of the people involved in development processes.
This book is the result of joint work. It is at the same time sowing and harvest of multiple experiences and knowledge. Its pages mirror the collective thinking, feeling and learning of a great many colleagues who have been working on the subject in Latin America.
Participatory evaluation is intrinsically collective and qualitative, that is its essence. In this short testimony, Carmen Luz Sánchez (Calu) emphasises that the key to participatory evaluation is to train the different stakeholders to ensure their assimilation of the tools needed to carry out the entire process.
Calu has over four years’ experience in participatory evaluation with the Servicio País program, which was implemented in Chile by the Foundation for Overcoming Poverty (Fundación para la Superación de la Pobreza). In her testimony (with English subtitles), she claims that this approach to evaluation must go hand in hand with an intervention strategy that allows the users of the program to take centre stage.
Carmen Luz Sánchez is from Santiago, Chile. A sociologist from the Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile and Master of Arts in Sociology from the University of Sydney, she has specialised in quantitative and qualitative methods in social research and program evaluation. She has worked as a lecturer and researcher in both fields. Her main interests are poverty, urban sociology and participatory tools. She is currently the Evaluation and Program Management Coordinator of the Servicio País program for the Foundation for Overcoming Poverty (Chile), a civil society organisation in partnership with the EvalParticipativa virtual community. Over the past five years she has worked in the design, development and implementation of participatory evaluation in social interventions.
Dear EvalParticipativa community, we are about to wrap up a 2020 that nobody would have wished for. A sanitary crisis like we had never experienced that has had and will continue to have economic and social consequences that are still difficult to estimate.
It has also been a year we will remember for the collective effort to hold on and to find reasons to keep going. Self-isolating to protect our elders, doubling our selfless efforts, searching for new balance in family life, being there even when we cannot be. This virus makes us stronger every day because it requires us to retrieve the essence of the sense of community. In a crisis such as we are living, the instructions are not “help me” but “find somebody to help”.
This is why we are convinced that communities like ours are the way forward. So it comes as no surprise to us that in 2020 our space for practice and learning consolidated and even exceeded the most optimistic expectations. For this reason, above all else, we thank you and applaud your effort to make your presence felt through EvalParticipativa.
We wish you an end of the year in the company of your loved ones, in peace and with hope. A big hug from the EvalParticipativa coordination team!
Many of you had already demonstrated great optimism and confidence that it could work and today we are pleased to be able to back this up with a little more information.
As you know, online formats have become the safest, if not the only, way to build capacity in these pandemic times. This has also been understood by the EvalYouth initiative and Focelac project leaders who have arranged a series of online workshops aimed at strengthening the capacity of young and/or emerging evaluators (YEEs) in the region. The University of Costa Rica has taught a Masters in Evaluation for over 17 years and is now delivering its program fully online and asked us to participate in the section on Participatory Evaluation which features in the modules on evaluation approaches for the Latin American reality.
By J. Bradley Cousins and Hind Al Hudib University of Ottawa, Canada
EvalParticipativa – what an amazing space! We are longtime fans, researchers, and purveyors of participatory evaluation but in our experience, EvalParticipativa is unparalleled as a space for professional exchange, capacity building, and learning in this domain. It is our very great honour to contribute to, and become part of, the EvalParticipativa community.
Participatory evaluation (PE) has been near and dear to our hearts for a very long time. One of us (Cousins) has been writing about this topic for almost 3 decades. While our contributions have been mostly research on PE, we’ve always had an interest in translating research-based knowledge into practice. What an amazing opportunity EvalParticipativa provides in this regard! But perhaps even more compelling is the reverse; what a fabulous opportunity to turn expert practice into research! Lessons learned will surly advance evaluation theory and practice.