Based on the experience I had on implementing rural livelihood projects in international NGO, applying PME has its own advantages and limitation.
During impact evaluation, PME helped us to evaluate the project impact through how the developed resources/schemes could finally impacted on their life. One of our development scheme was developing a water source, hand dug well. just to give you one example, The resource mapping helped us to well understand how the scheme helped them improved their life on comparing their previous experience by showing where they fetched water in the map and how far they traveled and tried also showing in picture how It was affecting women on different situation like rape, harassment and abduction and the like. It helped us also to understand how the scheme improved social interaction and information sharing when people meet at the scheme just by drawing pictures.
We used also the PME for planning purpose for project resource allocation and partnership. For instance We used resource mapping to get in-depth community perception and views on resource utilization and sharing with in and neighboring communities, when the resources are plenty and scarce, which resources are source of conflict and when. Institutional mapping also helped us to understand stakeholders’ engagement in the community and how it influence their livelihood. This information helped us to understand who works what and also to choose to whom we need to collaborate.
However, there was some limitation when conducting the PME. One of the basic challenge was to show how much our finding are well represented due to accurate sampling was difficult. We had struggled to justify that the finding represented to all the community where the project implemented. On the other case, the discussion on some cases influenced by influential people in the community unless we made it controlled and managed discussion. On the other case, women participation were very low due to cultural influence.
I found this a very interesting topic and discussion. Let me share with you my experience working in conflict sensitive environment.
Our project was typically focusing on conflict sensitive development. We had conducted evaluation through participatory methods with beneficiaries and key local actors with a number of tools such as Resource Mapping and Institutional Mapping.
We witnessed that Resource Mapping helped beneficiaries to understand and enhance their capacity on how their local resources are creating social cohesion within their communities and other communities through common resource utilization. This was also taken as a lesson to plan on how to use the resources for peace building interventions. It is important that the guiding questions fit the purpose of the evaluation. The reason is because participatory tools usually are used to evaluate a number of projects which are different in nature.
In another case, Institutional Mapping also uses a tool to show actors involved how local institutions are benefitting the communities and how they interact with each other. This provided more capacities to understand how important it is to link different institutions to improve coordination with the specific locality especially for local actors.