RE: The farmer as a key participant of M&E: lessons and experiences from Participatory M&E systems | Eval Forward

Dear Emma,

Thanks for posing this important question. Most times, M & E is considered as an accountability function of the donors and implementing agencies also follow the same approach. In this case, participation of farmers is not considered as prerequisite but sometime viewed that farmers are not ‘knowledge’ on these technical matters and only technical persons can provide this service on behalf of beneficiaries (as the technical persons also understand the local/farmers context and needs).

Participatory M & E has emerged to rectify this challenge where farmers would be involved in all stages of M & E – from planning to final evaluation. There is however mix experience in real world situations. I have noticed three types of P M&E process while working for various development organizations. In first group, project P M & E process duly respect its basic premise of participatory principle and involved farmers in all or most of the project cycle (deep engagement). In the second project use more opportunistic approach. Farmers are invited just before or after the initiation of project (most times during the project inception phase) and share the M & E strategy/plan and claimed farmers’ involvement in M & E process. In my experience this is the most common approach applied in agriculture project in managing M & E (medium level engagement). The third category, where technocrats prepared the M & E and share with farmers to provide their feedback on their already prepared M & E strategy / plan (low engagement).  

There are many participatory P M & E tools/methods that are dependent on the context and the technical matters. For example, for planning the project, ‘social and resource mapping’ would be very useful whereas for ‘agriculture market’ project ‘Venn diagram’ might provide some good understanding. Similarly, for food security project analysis, ‘seasonal calendar’ would provide very useful information. I have also used community score card to assess the performance (efficiency and effectiveness) of the project. There are many tools available, but it is vital to understand the basic principle of the participatory process and one should have a strong rapport with farmers and patients to use the tools.

Best regards,

Ram Chandra Khanal