Can Participatory Evaluation Meet the Needs of all Stakeholders? A Case Study: evaluating the World Neighbors West Africa Program
Participatory techniques are being used to a greater or lesser degree and in a variety of ways by more and more evaluators. This case study is a description of the methodology used during the participatory evaluation the author facilitated of the World Neighbors programmes in West Africa (Burkina Faso, Togo and Mali). During the one-week evaluation process in each of three programme sites a variety of participatory techniques were used, including PRA with villagers, focus group discussions, interviews with community leaders, roundtable discussions with representatives of other agencies working in the local area etc. But, did this process meet the needs of all stakeholders? At the village level participants gained new perspectives on the effect of the programme on their lives. The programme staff learned how to improve monitoring, routine evaluation, analysis and reporting. At the Area-wide Strategic Planning Conference, ideas and recommendations from the evaluation process shaped new action plans. Hence, the author argues the effectiveness of a community development programme should be measured in terms of how it influences decision-making by all stake-holders with responsibility for future plans.