Connecting local responses around the world
"To be natural is such a very difficult pose to keep up." ~Oscar Wilde
The participatory approach to development and evaluation is rooted in the belief that people are capable of thinking and developing on their own and have the potential to bring about change. It constantly reminds organizations that communities work better towards their development when they have a sense of ownership in the process. This was driven home for us when we had the opportunity to participate in the SALT evaluation process.
Going through the process involved being both emotional and methodical. The drawing up of the common dream and the conversion of this idealistic vision into achievable goals and practices helped us to see our lofty vision for the future laid out in black and white. After that came the real eye opener- the mapping down of practices. This, I believe, is the most crucial step in the entire process.
It makes the participants evaluate their progress with respect to the different practices listed out by them, and then contemplate how far they have come to achieving that particular goal. It becomes of supreme importance in this stage to take a hard look at one’s progress and honestly assess the position they’re in. The participants are also required to sound out the reasons behind their being in the stage of progress that they are in. It highlights, in short, the importance of being earnest with the group’s achievements and the path still left to be covered.
While thinking about the ‘why’ behind being in a particular stage of progress in achieving one's goals, the relative and absolute significance of different methods and steps taken to achieve the development goals becomes clear. It helps to evaluate the shortcomings and areas of improvement that need work, and to identify the best practices that should be carried forward to future efforts. Here, if the group of participants is blind to the caveats present in their approach so far, it will be difficult to increase the impact created by the organization’s efforts.
The same earnestness should be the basis of approaching the formulation of the plan of action, and while assigning responsibilities and time-frames, keeping the individual strength of the participants in mind.
I truly believe that this method of evaluation can prove extremely effective in developing communities in ways most beneficial and desirable to them, and according to them. Development may not mean the same to two groups of people, and constant participation from people in their development shall result in cumulative progress for the global community as a whole. My biggest learning from the entire process has been the importance of honest reflection in knowing where we stand, and determining how to go from there to the state of being we wish to achieve.
The entire process and the learning it brought about could not have been possible without the help and involvement of the Faith Foundation, the Global Fund for Children (GFC), the Constellation, IRMA and of course, Ms. Rituu B. Nanda. I would like to thank them all most sincerely.
[Sakhi Chaube | IRMA]