|Basic Guide to Evaluation for Development Workers (Oxfam, 1995, 96 p.)|
|3 Traditional and alternative models of evaluation|
Power and control are central issues in evaluation. Traditional methods of evaluation enabled funding NGOs to control the use of their funds for development activities. But if the aim is to increase the control which the women and men who are taking part in a project have over its progress, then the alternative approach to evaluation is more appropriate. Both funding and implementing NGOs need to use a range of methods for evaluation that will provide the information necessary, and also encourage critical reflection by all those involved. In particular, Northern funding NGOs must be willing to carry out the same kind of critical reflection about their own activities and approach as they demand of those NGOs they fund.
There is a need for greater clarity between all the parties involved regarding how, by whom, and against what criteria, work is going to be measured. This is one way of building more honest relations among development actors. The tensions that underlie much evaluation work relate to:
· A lack of recognition and open discussion of issues of
power and control.
· A lack of open discussion and negotiation about different perceptions of development work, and the function of evaluation within this: whether it is a control mechanism or a creative tool to enhance people's critical capacity to change their situation.
· Different perceptions of what is 'successful'.
· A misuse of evaluation: to fudge decision-taking, for example.
· Cultural differences in ways of working and expressing things.
Evaluation will work best where it is understood as an integral part of development work, and where there is an environment which encourages critical reflection. Otherwise people can feel insecure about their role and jobs. Morale can be affected by adverse findings, that are insensitively communicated. Much depends on where the decision to initiate evaluation comes from, and how the results are used.
Staff of funding NGOs should be encouraged to take an active interest in upgrading their knowledge and skills, to enable them to engage confidently in evaluation work, and to advise counterparts.