Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Participatory Impact Assessment

The Feinstein International Center, a Tufts University, has a rather comprehensive guide on participatory assessment titled, Participatory Impact Assessment: A Guide for Practitioners (2007).The authors are Andrew Carley, John Burns, Dawit Abebe and Omeno Suji. This guide focuses on measuring the impact of livelihood projects.

An eight stage approach is outlined that includes:
  1. Provide a framework for assessing the impact of livelihoods interventions.
  2. Clarify the differences between measuring process and real impact .
  3. Demonstrate how Participatory Impact Assessment (PIA) can be used to measure the impact of different projects in different contexts using community identified impact indicators .
  4. Demonstrate how participatory methods can be used to measure impact where no  baseline data exists .
  5. Demonstrate how participatory methods can be used to attribute impact to a project .
  6. Demonstrate how qualitative data from participatory tools can be systematically  collected and numerically presented to give representative results of project impact .
The three fundamental questions the PIA attempts to answer are: a) what changes have there been in the community since the start of the project?, b) which of these changes are attributable to the project?, and c) what differences have these changes made to people's lives?

Not all donors are open to participatory methods, especially if it entails the development of indicators by community members during or even after a project. Most donors prefer a list of result and impact indicators prior to project implementation. But, for those projects with greater donor flexibility to use participatory assessment techniques this guide presents some basic steps and methods.

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