According to the Institute of Development Studies:“Participatory monitoring and evaluation is not just a matter of using participatory techniques within a conventional monitoring and evaluation setting. It is about radically rethinking who initiates and undertakes the process, and who learns or benefits from the findings.”
That is, participatory evaluation includes the people who are being studied or who make up the users of the project as part of the full evaluation process including development and design of evaluation, collection of data, analysis of results and using or disseminating the information.
BetterEvaluation.org states that the advantages of doing participatory evaluation include:
- Identify locally relevant evaluation questions
- Improve program performance
- Empower participants
- Build capacity
- Develop leaders and build teams
- Sustain organizational learning and growth
Participatory evaluation takes an increased amount of time and commitment compared to a conventional evaluation process. This is particularly true when working with people experiencing homelessness. Personal life challenges may get in the way of full participation but these should be accepted. Systemic barriers – lack of funds for transit, food and nutritional needs and childcare support – should all be addressed and responses built into the process.