The tools, on their own, do not make the difference

by Dagny Skarwan

The need to carry out an evaluation in order to discover what results have been achieved by an intervention is appreciated by organisations, projects and the teams responsible for implementing them. In turn, monitoring is often linked to accountability, generally through a weekly or annual report.

Moreover, in the field of NGOs, monitoring is usually understood as reporting activities, in other words, accounting for everything that has been done, within a set period, in relation to the operational plan.

Even when projects have a logical framework or results matrix, and even when they have developed a theory of change, it is not unusual for organisations and local teams to be surprised by the instruments they come across when they start getting involved in participatory monitoring of outcomes and impacts. In this type of monitoring, I usually help teams reflect on how outcomes are measured, how impacts can be recognised and measured, and -from there- recognise the different contributions of the project. Questions also arise concerning the purposes of monitoring that go beyond the need of a project coordinator to provide accountability, and include questions such as where to start when monitoring a project and how to know when it is the right moment to do so.

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by Julia Espinosa Fajardo

In participatory evaluation, people and their diverse needs are put at the centre of evaluation processes, and consequently, public policies and programmes. The active inclusion of the different voices throughout the whole evaluative exercise opens up a space to highlight the violation of rights, processes of social exclusion and the structural inequalities that exist in each context.

In this sense, it is an opportunity to make visible the different situations of discrimination and vulnerability, and move towards public actions that address these realities to a greater extent and have more transformative power. In this way, participation in evaluation is a key aspect in the process of deepening democracy and ensuring rights, while at the same time, leaving no one behind.

What does EvalParticipativa reveal to us about the Latin American experience in this regard? How can we promote evaluation practices that have a positive impact on rights, inclusion and equity? What challenges are posed in the region?

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A Participatory Process in the New Methodology for Spanish Cooperation Country Partnership Framework Evaluation

The Country Partnership Framework, hereafter CPF, (MAP in Spanish) is the tool used by Spanish Cooperation, hereafter SC, for bilateral geographic strategic planning to ensure that SC actions contribute to sustainable development. Through the CPFs, dialogue is established between SC and the partner countries to benefit the development strategies and plans of these countries.

With this tool, the SC contributes to the implementation of the 2030 Agenda within the framework of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs); and in particular, SDG 17 Partnership for the Goals, promoting synergies and building partnerships at all levels, both with the partner country and among the SC actors. The CPF seeks to obtain a strategic, global and coherent vision of the Spanish Cooperation as a whole, and seeks to avoid merely compiling a list of interests held by the different actors. It is precisely the strategic approach that differentiates this tool and provides an interesting added value to CPF evaluation.

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Humble Evaluations: the evaluator role and attitude in Participatory Evaluation

by Silva Ferretti

The stereotype evaluator is an expert. S/he can capture, scientifically, what doesn’t work in a program. S/he can provide wise recommendations to fix issues… and manager shall respond to them! It is a position of professional authority.

The whole evaluation system pushes evaluators and their commissioner to conform to this stereotype. It seems convenient that, at some point in time, the expert can come in, validate a program and provide the right recommendations and solutions to improve it.

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Community Ownership in Evaluation. The Experience of Asia Pacific Evaluation Association (APEA)

by  Rituu B. Nanda & Randika de Mel

Let us join hands EvalParticipativa! Greetings from India!

Congratulations on the brilliant work you have been doing on promoting participation of communities in evaluation.

We are of the Asia Pacific Evaluation Association (APEA) action group on Community Ownership in Evaluation. We held an online Consultation in July 2021 in which 90 people participated from different parts of the world to create awareness of the importance of strengthening community ownership in evaluation and to develop an action plan for community ownership in evaluation in the Asia Pacific Region.

The highlight was participation of communities in the consultation. Two indigenous youth from India (supported by Faith Foundation) accepted the Evaluation torch. A young youth leader presented her experience in girl-led research from EMpower.

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Evaluating 15 years of Experiencia Sur

by Belén Rodríguez Navas & Juan José Clavaín Nuño

Entreculturas is a Jesuit-sponsored international cooperation NGO that works to promote justice and social transformation. It defends education as a human right and upholds the right to a dignified life for migrants and refugees. It also seeks to construct committed global citizenship, gender equality and the reconciling of humans with nature. It seeks to contribute to the development of the most vulnerable communities, appealing to values such as solidarity and equal rights, and involving all types of stakeholders (citizens, companies, governments etc.) that share the responsibility of tackling these global challenges.

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How to ensure that all voices are heard. Predefined criteria vs. stakeholder questions in evaluation

by Laura Porrini

For a while now, I have been pondering some key aspects that, in my experience, shape Monitoring, Evaluation and Learning (MEL) practice in the Global South. It is within this context that I have decided to set out some ideas that could be incorporated into practice criteria. One of the ideas that I have focused on is the existing tension between the increasingly felt need to ensure that all voices are heard in the evaluation process and predefined evaluation criteria, both in terms of their content and use.

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The benefits of a participatory approach in a complex context: The interim evaluation of the CRIA Program (Guatemala)

by Joaquín Navas, Claudia Calderón y Ricardo Ramírez.


CRIA stands for Consorcios Regionales de Investigación Agropecuaria (Regional Consortia for Agricultural and Livestock Research). The CRIA program began in 2016 with the goal of improving agricultural and livestock research capacity across inter-organizational consortia in Guatemala. The program has been funded by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) and implemented by the Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock and Food (MAGA) and the Inter-American Institute for Cooperation in (IICA).

Two Canadian-based independent consultants – Joaquin Navas and Ricardo Ramírez – completed the mid-term evaluation of CRIA between November 2018 and February 2019. They leaned on their experience with the DECI Project [1] in Latin America, which builds on Michael Quinn Patton’s Utilization-Focused Evaluation (U-FE) (2008) [2]. This approach calls for the engagement of a team of primary intended users that take on the design of the evaluation and commit to making use of its findings. This is a participatory aspect of U-FE, where the primary users elicit the purpose and intended uses expected from the evaluation. This in turn enables them to take ownership of the evaluation design.

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Today we would like to share an article by Leonardo Drazic (*) with the EvalParticipativa community. He is one of our friends and colleagues at the National University of San Juan and has supported this initiative in various ways since it began. Leo shares with us some thoughts that we consider relevant for the approach to participatory evaluation that we promote. An approach that holds the democratic ideal at its core and that focuses on the importance of citizens being the political reason behind every evaluation. Particular emphasis is placed on the higher education system and the need for it to connect to reality at different levels.

Every society that is victim to successive moments of crisis is severely marked and affected by previous ruptures to the terms of basic social contracts, whether economic, political or legal.  In many Latin American and Caribbean countries, political institutionality is largely discredited due to the questions that surround it.  Public opinion in general clearly rejects the current, past and future ruling classes. This communicates a lack of trust in political representatives and especially toward democratic institutional mechanisms that organise public activity.

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Why Participatory Evaluation? Reflections from a Global Northerner

by Ann Marie Castleman 

I was first introduced to participatory evaluation in Nicaragua. Like many people educated in the United States, I was trained in Western approaches to evaluation and research originating mostly from the social sciences. When I began working in monitoring and evaluation at a small NGO in Managua, it felt as though none of that training was relevant – largely because it was not. I did not fully understand at the time, but I now realize it was because I was trained in an epistemology or way of viewing the world that was largely out of touch with the local culture and context of the remote, rural communities where my team members and I supported health promoters to provide basic medical care in their communities. We used participatory approaches and methods including Photovoice, the Most Significant Change Technique, and Appreciative Inquiry.

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