Getting the understanding right from the startMonitoring and Evaluation has indeed been used as a powerful management tool by many organizations to assess actual change against stated objectives. However, these days because of the need for stakeholders involvement in the project cycle, many stakeholders particularly the beneficiaries, government line ministries, non-government organizations and civil society organizations are starting to realize the need to get involved in the Monitoring and Evaluation process. Participatory Monitoring and Evaluation folks is all about making the stakeholders participate in the whole project cycle. But let us dig a little deeper and try to understand what Participatory Monitoring and Evaluation really is.
Definition of Participatory Monitoring and EvaluationThe working definition for Participatory Monitoring and Evaluation is defined as the involvement of key stakeholders (primary beneficiaries, civil society organizations, right based organizations, non-governmental organizations and governments) in Monitoring and Evaluating project and programme activities. Participatory Monitoring and Evaluation involves the use of participatory techniques within a conventional Monitoring and Evaluation setting and this has resulted in stakeholders being empowered to take drastic action, improve in public accountability and improve their information provision for strategic planning at different levels. Participatory Monitoring and Evaluation can therefore provide more comprehensive information on efficiency, relevance, sustainability, impact and effectiveness of working in progress. By learning from mistakes it can lead to timely corrective action. By highlighting the successes of peoples efforts it can lead to increased motivation. The systematic and conventional and continual exchange of information can also strengthen working relationships. As the effectiveness of Participatory Monitoring and Evaluation is based on sharing information, it requires careful identification of those who should share information and what information is worth sharing.
Differences in the principles of conventional and participatory Monitoring and EvaluationWhat really are the differences in participatory Monitoring and Evaluation as compared to conventional Monitoring and Evaluation if you come to think of it? There are basically three differences namely;
1) Beginning of the process; In conventional Monitoring and Evaluation the donor begins the process of applying Monitoring and Evaluation in the implementing partners but with Participatory Monitoring and Evaluation both the donor and the project stakeholders begin the process.
2) Accountability; Conventional Monitoring and Evaluation primarily focuses on being accountable to the donor while in Participatory Monitoring and Evaluation, the accountability issue is not only applied to the donor but also to other stakeholders as well.
3) Mode of reporting; In Conventional Monitoring and Evaluation reporting is done primarily for the donor but in Participatory Monitoring and Evaluation reporting is for both the donor and implementing organization. The implementing organization uses the reports to build their own capacity and draw lessons.
There are alot of benefits of implementing participatory approaches such as organizational strengthening, information provision at different levels and better understanding of the realities and therefore more realistic and appropriate plans. Great stuff right?