This paper examines the challenges and proposes an approach for monitoring and evaluating participatory research (PR) for community-based natural resource management (CBNRM) projects. It outlines some of the key issues and constraints facing PR, and to provide guidance to researchers, programme and project managers interested in monitoring and evaluating PR projects. The focus is on using monitoring and evaluation (M&E) as a tool for adaptive learning and project improvement, for integrating social theory into participatory methods, and for understanding the links between participatory processes and outcomes. The paper also explores the importance of using participatory M&E methods for bringing in the perspectives of local people whose lives are being influenced by the research. The first part of the paper provides a background for understanding PR in CBNRM projects. The paper goes on to describe the rationale and present a framework for M&E PR within the context of supporting quality and relevant applied development research while at the same time strengthening institutional and individual research capacity. Key considerations are highlighted for developing an appropriate and learning-based approach to M&E of PR projects, and options for integrating M&E into the different stages of a project cycle are proposed. The paper concludes by presenting the issues and questions to be considered in M&E of the process and outcomes of PR for natural resource management. This is based on characteristics indicating validity and quality of the PR process and methods, as well as the potential of the methods used to contribute to reaching the general goals of CBNRM. The ideas are geared both for the programme level and the project level, to be used by researchers during the project to help inform the research project, and provide guidance for interim or post project assessments.
International Development Research Centre