I am passionate about participatory practices. I was excited when my office Institute of Social Studies Trust with Restless Development and CMS organised a half day session on Participatory Evaluation. This was part of EvalYear celebrations. About 25 participants attended the session and deliberated on different issues around Participatory Evaluation. Mallika Samaranayake and Rajib Nandi took the lead in facilitation.
Top to down approaches in development can lead to ineffective programmes. For instance inspite of a large-scale campaign on semi solid food for babies after the age of six months did not lead to community response. It was found that women from poor families feared that giving salty food to babies would develop their taste for that kind of food and babies would reduce milk consumption. As the women were poor they could not afford semi solid food and breast milk was what they could afford. It is after engaging with the community that the WFP team learned this and changed their campaign.
Those engaged in the intervention are best placed to evaluate their own work. When they take the lead in evaluating they take greater ownership, which can lead to sustainability of the development programmes.
During evaluation create a space so that everyone has a chance to voice his/her thoughts and experiences
Attitude of a participatory evaluation Facilitator is key. He/she should approach the community to learn and stimulate them to reflect and track their own progress.
Creativity, flexibility and visualization techniques are some other features of PE
We should recognize heterogeneity in the community. Power dynamics play a key role in the community.
Quantitative and qualitative approaches are not standalone, they are complimentary.
What scale can qualitative evaluation handle? For small scale studies qualitative methodology can suffice. For larger national level programmes, quantitative data can give us trends. This should be accompanied by qualitative evaluation representing relevant stakeholders and geographical areas.
Survey is for data collection what the evaluator wants to collect but qualitative tools are for information generation, it is transformative for both the evaluator as well as the community
Why participatory evaluation?
We would like to embed participatory evaluation in India’s national evaluation policy and system. To take this further, we would like to:
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