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.
The Benjamin Franklin quote that we have used as the title is perhaps the best way to introduce this post, in which we wish to share some of EvalParticipativa’s recent experiences as part of its capacity development strategy in the region. Our contribution to capacity strengthening in Participatory Evaluation (PE) has made use of both online and face-to-face formats, and has focused on specific personal and organisational contexts.
The aim of these capacity development sessions was to ensure that participants were familiar with conceptual and methodological features of PE, based on participants’ own experiences and the contents of the “Sowing & Harvesting” handbook. Didactic tools and documentary videos prepared specifically for each context were combined so that participants could:
develop their knowledge, skills and capacities concerning the aims, steps and critical moments involved in this kind of evaluation;
acquire an initial understanding of how to implement a participatory approach and facilitate inclusive processes; and
gain a basic understanding of how to use the methodology, both to improve their own evaluation practice and to contribute to development processes across the region.
In this post, we share an account of three capacity development workshops, held in late July and early August in Ecuador, Colombia and Costa Rica. These training experiences were organised and facilitated jointly with local teams drawn from different academic and social organisations. Around sixty people were trained in three countries. This account speaks of the joint efforts and lessons learnt, of networking and synergy, of real-life challenges that were overcome, and of hopes about the possibility of constructing a Latin American society that is more just and inclusive and where, one day, nobody will be left behind.
Those of us who have facilitated participatory processes, have at some point wondered what we need to do to achieve the highest degree of involvement possible, from as many stakeholders as possible, in the activities that we plan. One of the many challenges that surface when carrying out participatory evaluation is how to create spaces for real participation where multiple stakeholders can be true protagonists in the evaluation agenda. We know that this is not achieved only by understanding in depth participatory evaluation and the methodological steps, it is also necessary to identify and be able to handle appropriate tools for each social and cultural context where the evaluation is carried out.
The use of participatory tools is increasingly valued in the field of evaluation whether to analyse the reality, facilitate communication, build shared viewpoints, stimulate creativity, facilitate decision making or even decrease the volume of some voices in order to make space for quieter voices.
We are happy and grateful to launch a new section in the EvalParticipativa website, our community for practice and learning. It is a series of short video testimonies on evaluation and social participation. Through them, we will share ideas, suggestions, examples and lessons learnt on participatory evaluation in Latin America and the Caribbean.
During this time we have learnt that video testimonies can bring credibility to words by bringing to life the experience, the concept and the recommendation that arise in our practices. On the other hand, and in contrast with written texts, the testimony of a person speaking in a concrete context carries emotions that enrich the content of their message.