This book aims to critically examine how monitoring can be an effective tool in participatory resource management. It draws on the first-hand experiences of researchers and development professionals in eleven countries in Africa, Asia, and South America. Collective monitoring shifts the emphasis of development and conservation professionals from externally defined programs to a locally relevant process. It focuses on community participation in the selection of the indicators to be monitored as well as community participation in the learning and application of knowledge from the data that is collected. As with other aspects of collaborative management, collaborative monitoring emphasizes building local capacity so that communities can gradually assume full responsibility for the management of their resources. The cases in Negotiated Learning highlight best practices, but stress that collaborative monitoring is a relatively new area of theory and practice. The cases focus on four themes: the challenge of data-driven monitoring in forest systems that supply multiple products and serve diverse functions and stakeholders; the importance of building upon existing dialogue and learning systems; the need to better understand social and political differences among local users and other stakeholders; and the need to ensure the continuing adaptiveness of monitoring systems.
This paper describes the process of developing a participatory monitoring and evaluation strategy for a Kenyan youth-based NGO. The iterative nature of the study including the process of narrowing down indicators to measure and methods to monitor/evaluate these is well documented. A discussion on the extent to which the process achieved participation and was empowering for the participants reflects on existing power relationships and cultural context of Kenya and points to the need to create opportunities for youth where they engage with the broader community. Lessons that emerge out of the study focus on the importance of prioritizing monitoring and evaluation, the potential of youth to carry out effective monitoring and evaluation, and the need for researchers to engage respectfully with communities and participants.
With the priority of poverty reduction and with accelerating change in many dimensions, up-to-date and realistically informed perceptions of the lives and conditions of people living in poverty have come to matter more than ever. At the same time, new pressures and incentives increasingly trap decision-makers in headquarters and capital cities, reinforcing earlier (1983) analysis of the attraction of urban 'cores' and the neglect of rural 'peripheries'. These trends make decision-makers' learning about poverty and from people living in poverty rarer and ever more important. One common means has been rural development tourism, the phenomenon of the brief rural visit from an urban centre. In 1983, six biases of such visits - spatial, project, person, seasonal, diplomatic and professional - against seeing, meeting and learning from the poorer people, were identified and described. Security can now be added as a seventh. Much can be done to offset the biases. The solution is to make more visits, not fewer, and to enjoy doing them better.
In addition, new and promising approaches have been pioneered for experiential, direct learning, face-to-face with poor and marginalised people. Examples are: UNHCR's annual participatory assessments by staff; SDC's 'views of the poor' participatory research in Tanzania; and various forms of immersion, most recently those being convened and organised by ActionAid International. In many immersions, outsiders become guests for a few days and nights, and live, experience and learn in a community. The question now is not how an organisation can afford the time and other resources for immersions for its staff. It is how, if it is seriously pro-poor, it can possibly not do so. This paper is a challenge to development actors to practice a responsible pro-poor professionalism; to be pioneers and champions, seizing and making space for themselves and others to offset the biases and traps of headquarters and capital cities; and to have the vision and guts to seek out direct experiential learning and so to be in touch and up-to-date with the realities of the people living in poverty whom they seek to serve.