by Sara Vaca
After studying business and spending my early career working in the private sector, discovering what “participation” meant, albeit theoretically, was key. I understood that “participation” meant that several stakeholders had a voice (and vote) in decision making during the four phases of the evaluation: the design, data collection, analysis, and interpretation… seemed simple enough!
From that moment (back in 2012), I began to notice that most evaluation reports included in their summary or methodology something along the lines of: “this is a (highly) participatory evaluation”, and some even mentioned it in the title itself (“participatory evaluation of…”), when what they really meant was that they had consulted many people or groups, but only as informants…! I wondered why they called it participation when what they actually meant was that they had consulted a wide sample.