Participation runs through the entire project cycle, from the definition of a strategy and the identification of objectives, via the planning and implementation of activities, right up to the evaluation of the results and the use of the lessons learnt. This is the only way in which the Southern NGO can carry on working successfully after the departure of the Northern NGO. The voice of the South can express itself directly and not via an expert appraisal. Participation begins with the very first conversations.
Participatory definition of project objectives and planning
A whole range of approaches, methods and behaviour patterns about participatory situation and problem analysis, definition of objectives and project planning have been compiled under the title of Participatory Rural Appraisal (PRA). Yet it is more a style than an actual method. Some of the issues that form of the basic principles of PRA are:
- Empowerment: Knowledge is generated locally and remains available.
- Respect: Local intellectual and analytic abilities are respected.
- Localisation: Local materials and representations are extensively used.
- Inclusiveness: Special attention is paid to the participation of marginalised groups.
- Visual sharing: Information is presented visually.
- Iterative learning and action: Instruments are put into action step-by-step and on a coordinated basis.
- Triangulation: Research is validated through as many different perspectives as possible.
- Optimal ignorance: Unnecessary precision is avoided.
PRA depends to a great extent on the moderators, who must lead and be the catalyst for the process without dominating it.
Participatory Monitoring and Evaluation
PRA’s style and toolbox are also used for monitoring and evaluation – and therefore for impact assessment. The inclusion of the target groups in the planning and implementation of an impact assessment is decisive for it to be accepted. This is especially true for the development of indicators and data collection, as well as the evaluation of a project’s effects. This is the only way to ensure that local partners can also use the impact assessment’s results to good effect.