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Monitoring and Evaluation: Encouraging Participation

The essential elements of participation requires that everyone understands, supports and is willing to join actively in the process. This requires much teaching and learning to be effective. There are many ways to increase participation in a project, and some of those which are most seful to develop monitoring and evaluation systems include:

1. Use active rather than passive, and practical rather than theoretical methods.

Involve everyone - assign tasks which ensure everyone is involved or has a chance.

2. Begin with an activity which is of interest to all.

Building a community map is a good start. Provide a simile outline. Each member can then put his or her house on the map. Other resources and landmarks can be added as required.

3. Use small groups.

A large group intimidates the less bold, makes consensus lore difficult, and inhibits spontaneity. Small homogeneous groups where there is mutual trust and concern are more cooperative and supportive, at least initially.

4. Provide meaningful data and information.

For those with no or little education, statistics and academic information cannot be interpreted. Simple graphic models, numbers and charts should be used.

5. Facilitate access to more information.

Take the group to a library, a government office, school or on field trips where they can increase their knowledge base and learn where to go for information in the future.

6. Conscientize the group!.

Only when political awareness has been raised, are people willing and mentally able to help themselves. Thus, creation of awareness of the forces that oppress them is one of the most powerful forces for action, and collective action is necessary to achieve progress against oppression. Participation is the way to collective action.
In the end, the levels and effectiveness of people's participation depend largely on individual group organizers, leaders, teachers and facilitators. Not everyone is temperamentally suited to working with people in a participatory way, and not all can learn the skills which facilitate participation. Careful selection and effective training are both needed for people's participation to become a reality in development.
"Participatory Monitoring and Evaluation"
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