A. Socio-economic methodologies for Natural Resources Research best practice guidelines: Participatory Monitoring and methodologies for natural resources research
Monitoring and evaluation (M&E) have long been important for funding agencies to assess actual change against stated objectives, and thus to judge whether development assistance has been successful or not. This has usually involved external experts evaluating against indicators that have been determined externally or through rigid, imposed monitoring procedures. Yet changes are afoot and organizations are increasingly using M&E for internal learning and continual improvement to their work. They also increasingly realize that this needs to happen with a wide range of stakeholders, thus making M&E more participatory. Participatory monitoring and evaluation (PM&E) involves the assessment of change through processes that involve many people or groups, each of whom is affecting or affected by the impacts being assessed. Negotiation leads to agreement on how progress should be measured and the findings acted upon. It is a challenging process for all concerned as different stakeholders must examine their assumptions about what constitutes progress – and together deal with the contradictions and conflicts that can emerge. For research managers of DFID-funded work, PM&E can stimulate a shift from assessing impacts based on DFID’s perceptions of benefits to include the perceptions of the target population. PM&E can, therefore, provide more comprehensive information on efficiency, relevance, sustainability, impact and effectiveness of work in progress. By learning from mistakes en route, it can lead to timely corrective action. By highlighting the successes of people’s efforts, it can increase motivation. The systematic and continual exchange of information can also strengthen working relationships. As the effectiveness of PM&E is based on sharing information, it requires careful identification of those who should share information and what information is worthwhile sharing.