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close this bookGATE - 3/91 - Impact - A Neglected Dimension of AT (GTZ GATE, 1991, 52 p.)
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View the documentThe impact of appropriate technology - A neglected dimension
View the documentGATE Project: Participative impact monitoring
View the documentPlanning, observing, steering - Participative impact monitoring
View the documentParticipative planning and evaluation - Expensive in the short term, cost effective in the long term
View the documentThe forgotten overall goal
View the documentAn effective tool for project development
View the documentCreative cooperation demands mutual understanding

The impact of appropriate technology - A neglected dimension

by Joachim Prey

For more than twenty years now committed individuals and organisations have been working to realize the appropriate technology approach. In many cases impressive results have been achieved, but, over the last few years a certain uncertainty has set in, as to what extent appropriate technology (AT) has really achieved its ambitious goals apart from a few individual successes limited in time and space. Is AT as a systematic approach successful? Is AT still relevant today?

Before we can answer these questions we must take a critical look at AT projects and programmes already implemented and assess their true impact. The exact number of biogas plants disseminated or oil presses produced is of less interest here than the medium- and long-term impacts of these projects on the living and working conditions of the poor and disadvantaged parts of the population.

Have AT projects really achieved significant, widespread improvements in the living and working conditions of larger population groups? If so, are these improvements sustainable? Is it really the poorer, disadvantaged groups of the population who benefit from any positive developments?

And, what is perhaps the most important question of all, has this approach developed its own internal dynamics, which will carry it on, independent of external action? Are the people involved more independent? Are they in a better position to help themselves with their own resources and strength? Are they more aware, more willing to form their own organisations? Can they express their needs in such a way that note is taken at political level?

The importance of impacts for the appropriate technology concept

Now, one could ask what all this has to do with technology. Technology should fulfill a certain purpose as cost effectively as possible in the long term, and nothing else.

This argument bypasses the true problem. The whole concept of "appropriate technology" has always set itself much further reaching goals. AT was developed as a political concept, which was initially applied to industrialized countries. It was only later that the AT movement turned its attention to developing countries. The AT concept was intended to change society as a whole for the better. The selection of technology was accorded a central role in shaping these changes.

Recently this ambitious goal has been challenged more and more. Industrialized countries have de facto long decided against implementing the AT concept in their own countries. Is AT to be seen as a concept only suitable for developing countries? These countries, rightly, reject this exclusive application of the AT approach, fearing that it will merely serve as a legitimation of the ever-widening gap between industrializing and developing countries, between rich and poor.

We cannot pursue this discussion fully here. Let us look firstly at the impacts of activities of the past. This is of vital importance for a reappraisal of the AT concept. GATE considers that it is high time to reconsider experience to date and, on this basis, reappraise the AT concept. This is the only way to ensure that it remains relevant for the problems facing us over the next tenor twenty years.

For many organisations in the South the issue of the impact of their own activities has likewise become important. By recording and analysing impacts the learning process from experience can be systematized and appraised by means of objective criteria. Thus the concepts, methods and instruments involved in work with the target group can be refined and improved.

Recording impacts - breaking new theoretical and practical ground

Despite manifold, generally positive information, on the course and results of technology adaptation and dissemination, no sufficiently widespread evaluation of the direct and indirect impacts of these activities on the living and working conditions of the group of beneficiaries has yet been performed. A study of this sort has to date only been possible on a lesser scale since the impacts of a project can only realistically be examined after a certain time has elapsed subsequent to conclusion of project activities.

Thus the attempt to record impacts of AT projects is, in away, breaking new ground. It has not yet been finally determined to what extent direct cause-effect links can be isolated and clearly described at all in interlinked systems. At best we can fall back only on fragmentary theories applicable to development projects from which we can devise methods and instruments.

At the level of practical implementation too, there are manifold problems from the cost-benefit considerations to the question of whether impacts can be generalized out of their quite specific development contexts.

To date we thus have neither a comprehensive concept for impact analysis nor a range of practicable instruments which can really be used in every day project work.

Impact analysis - two levels important

The impact of a project-related activity is generally very complex and difficult to establish clearly. For this reason it is practically impossible to determine the impacts to be achieved when planning a project. Impacts, which initially appear to be of secondary importance can, in the long term, trigger the most major changes.

Despite these imponderables two major impact levels can be identified at beneficiary level: the direct technical and economic level, and the sociocultural level. The direct benefit of a new technology can be seen at the technical and economic level. The introduction of a new technology leads to economic growth, brings new products or upgrades the quality of existing products, saves time and raw materials, reduces environmental degradation, increases income and creates jobs.

The sociocultural level refers to changes in the awareness and behaviour on the part of participants as a result of the introduction of new technology or adaptation of existing technology. In this way, for example, prejudices against anything new can be countered. Another impact at this level could be, for example, the closer integration of the disadvantaged groups in society, a changed awareness of the respective roles of men and women, an increase in the target group's own initiative and a greater degree of organisation. Impetus leading to greater dynamics is also of major importance. Neighbouring villages, for example, might be inspired to take action too and initiate similar changes.

In brief, at each impact level there are a great many individual impacts which can determine the success and sustainability of an activity. In addition there are a great many reciprocal links between the two levels, the technical and economical and the sociocultural. In the long term a project will more likely have positive impacts if these links between the two levels were particularly marked.

These links and interactions are already very important during the implementation phase though. In this phase they can be seen in the form of the synergy achieved between the project team and the beneficiaries or users.

Here too, success is largely dependent on the extent and the quality of the interaction. Interaction in this case can be defined primarily as the communication and participation between the participating partners.

The commitment and motivation of the future users and the team members, for example, helps greatly in solving individual technical problems. The successful realization of a more technically-oriented activity likewise heightens the motivation and commitment of all participants. This interaction should ideally become stronger and closer, finally resulting in the success of the project. A downwards spiral would likewise mean a failed project.

Participation as a second objective - the means become part of the end

In consequence this means that the degree of interaction between the impact levels is one indicator of project success. With the help of this indicator the success of a project can be better geared to the overall goal of positive impacts. From this we can also devise an instrument for steering project implementation.

Let us not forget that the AT concept took the term "technology" to mean more than merely the mechanical functioning of a piece of machinery. Or, to put it another way, the reliable, cost-effective functioning of a technology can only be guaranteed if a whole series of parameters, including a great many non-technical ones, are taken into account.

The development of initiative and acceptance of responsibility are of particular significance here. They point the way to increased autonomy and decision-making power. AT is unthinkable without participation or "responsibilization" as it is sometimes called. In implementing an AT project the realisation of this participation must thus be accorded high priority.

At the same time parameters as listed above are covered by the term "participation". They are crucial for the sociocultural impact level. They describe changes at sociocultural and psychological level and are, when positive, desired impacts. This is the level at which we see whether or not an AT project has been successful.

This is not news to proponents of the AT approach. In practice, however, it has become apparent that in many AT projects "participation" is not taken into account systematically.

This holds less for the planning of projects of this sort, since participative procedures have now been developed. The extent to which they are actually applied may of course be another thing. in the following articles you will find positive and negative examples.

In contrast, a systematic gearing of project implementation to participation has been largely neglected. Implementation has often been seen uniquely as a management problem, in which the planning, which may or may not have been performed on participative lines, is realized as completely and efficiently as possible. The project team is measured in terms of their success in doing this. Everything which does not actively contribute to achieving this goal is regarded as a nuisance. Participation has, at best, a very secondary role to play, and only becomes important if it helps to solve problems which arise.

Thus the desired impacts at sociocultural level are more or less left to chance. This is quite astonishing if we look at the amount of effort which is otherwise devoted to developing concepts and strategies, methods and instruments. Participation, however, cannot be produced on command. It cannot be reduced to a skeleton of methods and instruments. Participation is primarily a human behaviour pattern, a form of dealing with one another on an equal basis.

Aids are, however, thinkable, to give project staff a better understanding of participation as a constant task in the implementation phase. Participation could, indeed, be set as an additional objective with the same status as the original objective. In the final conclusion this means that the project must be open for a wide-reaching revision of planning if the beneficiaries decide on different priorities on the basis of participative processes.

How this can be achieved in concrete terms cannot be envisaged at present, but in order to gain more experience, and to investigate the question of the impacts of AT projects, GATE has launched the Participative Impact Monitoring Project.

The following article by Dr. Eberhard Gohl will go into more detail. At this point, however, we would ask all of you who are interested in the topic and who have concrete experience to contribute or critical comments to make to take an active part in the debate and write to us.


AT concepts have been successfully implemented for over twenty years now. Today, however, questions are being posed increasingly as to its medium and long-term impact on the situation of the poor. Impacts can be isolated at a technical and economic level and at a sociocultural level. The latter is reflected in the relationship between the project team and beneficiaries during project
implementation, and the quality of this relationship is crucial if positive impacts are to be achieved in the medium to long term. It can be broadly defined as participation and communication. Participation, as a second objective alongside the original objective, could open new avenues for the implementation phase.


Depuis 20 ans, on rise des concepts de technologie appropriavec succ Cependant, on se pose de plus en plus la question concernant son effect a moyen et a long terme sur la situation des pauvres. On constate des impacts techniques et nomiques ainsi que socioculturels. Ces derniers se reflnt dans les rapports entre l´equipe du projet et les bficiaires lors de la risation du projet. Un impact positif a moyen et a long terme dnd de bons rapports. Dans les grandes daignes, cette relation consiste en la participation et la communication. La participation, en tant que deuxi objectif du projet, pourrai aboutir a une nouvelle perspective pour la phase de risation.


Los programas de tecnolog apropiadas han sido aplicados con to durante mas de 20 anos. Sin embargo, actualmente se cuestiona su impacto a mediano y largo plazo sobre la situation de los pobres. Los efectos pueden ser considerados separadamente a nivel tico y econo y a nivel sociocultural. Este ultimo se refleta en la relacion entre el equipo del proyecto y los beneficiaros durante la ejecution del proyecto: la calidad de esta relacion es de importancia crucial para la obtencie efectos positivos a mediano y largo plazo. Los dos tinos que determinan la relacion entre el equipo del proyecto y los beneficiarios son: participation y comunicaciLa participation puede ser vista, incluso, como un segundo objetivo paralelamente al objetivo original del proyecto, y abrir novas vias abra la fase de ejecuci

GATE Project: Participative impact monitoring

by Eberhard Gohl

This recently launched project aims to design and test participative impact monitoring as a simple tool to be used in steering self-help promotion projects and programmes.

Participative impact monitoring is designed to help

· gear projects to the objectives of the self-help groups

· make the impacts observed by the various actors criterion of project progress

· facilitate the progressive assumption of responsibility by the self help groups.

The idea

The project is based on the idea that monitoring should not focus on the extent to which project reality corresponds with the work plans, but that the emphasis should be on the impacts of our actions. Several things speak in favour of this approach:

· The success of a project cannot be measured in terms of how closely the planning was followed, but in terms of the positive impact on the social environment.

· There can be no universally valid assessment of success since all participants have their own subjective views on the benefit of a project.

· Continuous observation of impacts is a dynamic process.

· Continuous situation analysis demands that a changed situation is reflected in an adaptation of project activities.

In general impacts can be observed at two different levels:

1. The technical level - changes in technology and in the economic situation. Changes at this level are easily quantifiable.

2. The social level - changes at a psychic, mental, cultural and political level. Changes at this level are more easily recorded in terms of quality than quantity.

These two levels obviously cannot be treated as entirely separate entities- there are interactions between them. Material changes do bring with them changes in awareness and behaviour and vice versa.

There are, doubtless, many possible ways of translating participative impact monitoring into practice, especially as regards the questions:

· What type of impact should be recorded?

· How can the actors best perform the impact observation and analysis them selves?

· What part do externals have to play?

· What type of indicators are expedient?

· How can the system be kept simple?

· What are the chances presented by and the risks involved in participative impact monitoring?

Joint testing of participative impact monitoring

In order to answer these questions we must look at where and when similar tests have already been performed. Then an attempt is to be made to further develop the tool in three case studies with partners abroad. It is planned that the following results be achieved in three separate phases.

Appeal to all gate readers

· Please send us any reports you have on experience gained in the field of participative impact monitoring

· Please send us your proposals on developing the concept of participative impact monitoring

· Please let us know if you are planning to launch a (small scale) project at the end of 1991, in the course of which you would be interested in testing, or developing the participative impact monitoring approach.

We would very much appreciate any contributions you can make to this project. Please send your ideas, proposals, reports etc. to

attn. Mr Joachim Prey
P.O. Box 5180
D-6236 Eschborn 1
Federal Republic of Germany

Phase I

A concept for participative impact monitoring has been designed, introduced and discussed with partners.

The draft of the first rough concept is currently being prepared. As soon as it is finished it will be sent to all interested parties, and then discussed and refined with our partners from overseas at a workshop to be held in the Federal Republic of Germany in autumn 1991. The planning will be performed on a step-by-step basis, so at present only the activities for the first phase have been laid down. They are to be concluded by the end of 1991.

Phase II

Participative impact monitoring has been tested and improved with interested cooperation partners.

The development of the concept will be taken one step further with three counterpart organizations who are interested in developing participative impact monitoring, and who are planning to launch a relevant project in 1991/92.

Phase III

The experience gained with participative impact monitoring has been processed and documented.

Experience gained with the case studies and other approaches will be documented in the form of guidelines on participative impact monitoring.


In the field of NGOs' work in particular simple project steering instruments are needed, which are geared not only to fulfilling the plan, but which concentrate on analysing the impact of the project on the target group. Participative impact monitoring is design to do just that In order to test this approach over the next two years GATE is looking for partners in developing countries who are interested in talking part in trials.


Dans le domaine d'activites organisations non gouvernementales surtout, les instruments de pilotage du projet doivent e simples, non uniquement axvers la risation des rltats prsionels et permettre avant tout l'analyse des effets sur les groupes cibles. Le suivi participatif des effets se veut de rndre a ces exigences. Afin de tester et de dlopper cette approche dans les ann 3 venir GATE cherche, dans les pays en vole de dloppement, des partenaires desireux de participer de faon active.


Especialmente en los itos de accion de las organizaciones no gubernamentales se requieren instrumentos de conduccie proyectos sencillos, que no estorientados exclusivamente al cumplimiento de objetivos preestablecidos en un plan, sino que analicen en primer tino los efectos sobre los grupos destinatarios. Se espera que la monitoria de efectos segun principios participativos cumpla los anteriores requisitos. GATE busca organizaciones en los paises en desarrollo que estinteresadas en participar activamente en este trabajo.

Planning, observing, steering - Participative impact monitoring

by Eberhard Gohl

I will never forget the second of January in my office at the Bureau of Agriculture in C. The Head of Department distributed a white slip of paper to each member of staff, on which we had to record everything that we wanted to do in the coming year. He compiled the contents and bingo - the annual work plan was complete. This planning procedure was participative in the extreme, and indeed more than half of what was planned was finished by the end of the year.

Most non-governmental organizations have worked with over the last few years do take the planning of their programmes and projects considerably more seriously. More attention is paid to the needs of the social environment, activities are developed systematically, to work towards a specific goal. The work plans which emerge are often thick compendiums. But, can these detailed plans actually be better implemented than those produced at the drop of a hat?

Planning is important...

In fact there is now a great deal of uncertainty about what constitutes a reasonable, practicable work plan for an NGO. Problems have arisen because, in practice, things often take acompletely different course than that planned, because

· the general situation has changed

· mistakes are often recognized and rectified too late

· the social environment is often not sufficiently integrated in the planning at an early stage

· the community of development agencies often have unrealistically high (and indeed very different) demands and expectations.

The ZOPP planning procedure has attracted the attention of a great many NGOs, although the system was originally designed for state development cooperation. The system is attractive because it employs a high systematic approach, allows an analytical procedure, integrates representatives of the groups of participants and because it is respected by the financing bodies. In many cases ZOPP is a significant improvement on the methods previously used. But it does have its, not inconsiderable limitations:

· The procedure is relatively time consuming

· It is too complicated for a real grassroots application

· Self-help groups can only participate at certain points in the procedure

· The procedure requires an external moderator who, if available at all, can be very expensive.

Innumerable attempts have been made to improve the planning procedure, in particular to ensure greater participation on the part of the social environment. We have seen the "village ZOPP", "MAPP", "LEPSA", "SWOT analysis", "GRAAP", the "future workshop" . . . the creativity which has
been unleashed is boundless, and there are doubtless methods still to be "discovered" which are much more culturally appropriate.

... but steering is more important

Recently though the question has been asked increasingly whether we should really place so much emphasis on the planning in the life span of a project. Nobody questions the need for planning, but planning after all demands management, a continuous steering, which takes into account the fact that programmes and projects are not one-off events, but part of a process. When the project involved is dealing with self-help groups participative steering becomes all the more essential.

But what should a realistic, practicable tool for steering look like. "M + E"-monitoring and evaluation is a buzzword which springs readily to the lips, but what does it really mean in concrete terms?

"Metatitis" (from "meta" meaning "objective") is an ailment diagnosed in Latin American projects, in which those responsible for implementation cling desperately to objectives and indicators once set, without asking themselves about the true meaning of their activities or the impacts they are having.
An M + E system aims to create an information base which can be used to steer a project during implementation. This allows participants:

· to record and evaluate project impacts

· to identify discrepancies between the actual situation and planning guidelines

· to make corrections

· to adjust planning.

Monitoring presupposes the validity of the planning while evaluation questions the planning of the project.

Monitoring is thus more akin to work at implementation level, where decisions are translated into practice. If it is noted that activities cannot be realized as they were planned, that they have undesirable impacts or that the general situation is different to that on which the planning was based, the project can be steered by adding, deleting or substituting activities.

However, as soon as it becomes clear that the deviations from the plan can no longer be corrected merely by adding or halting activities, an evaluation must be performed, as indeed it should be at regular intervals in any case, as a result of which planning may have to be adjusted. This concept of evaluation comes from continuous monitoring and makes evaluation the first step in revising planning. This means that evaluation is geared to the future, it fits smoothly into the process of action and loses its negative character of a formal investigation in which the guilty parties are to be sought out.

The terms "monitoring" and "evaluation" are a red rag to many people whose experience with M + E has been no less than drastic. But there are ways of avoiding the disadvantages of the procedure adopted to date.

The first step must be to establish an internal M + E system tailored to the needs of the organization or body in question. The more this system is based on the participation of the social environment and the NGO staff, the more difficult it will be for development agencies to shirk their own claims to promote participation. If self-help movements and NGOs openly legitimate themselves by democratic management structures, their position is vastly strengthened at every level in their dealings with other organizations.

The second step in creating a positive association with the term "monitoring and evaluation" must be to use simple procedures. While it is true that an evaluation is always relatively complicated when a whole series of participants must be integrated, and replanning is itself by no means a routine job, if an evaluation is based on data obtained by continuous monitoring, it should take on a creative, rather than a merely bureaucratic allure.

One possible option would be to gear an M + E system not so closely to planning data, but to observe the changes in the environment and the impacts of project activities on a continuous basis, together with the social environment. We could make this a foundation for steering. This would be a starting point for participative impact monitoring.


Planning is necessary, but in NGOs' work it often does not make sense to work out excessively detailed plans. Even when the social environment is incorporated In the planning process, using participative procedures. there are many good reasons for continuously modifying and adapting planning. This demands steering instruments which are both simple and flexible to use, instruments which depend less on a rigid plan and are concentrated more on the project process. Participative impact monitoring is designed to meet these demands.


Si la planification est nssaire, il n'en reste pas pertinent d´elaborer des plans trop detailles pour le travail des organisations non gouvernamentales. Meme si l´on reussit a integrer l´environnement social dans la planification a l´aide de la methode participative, les raisons qui exigent des modifications permanentes de le planification sont legion. Il faut donc des instruments de pilotage du projet simples et autonomes. Des instruments relevant moins de la planification que d´un processus dynamique. Le suivi participatif des effets se veut de repondre a ces exigences.


Nadie cuestiona la necesidad de la planificacion; sin embargo, en el campo de actividades de las organizaciones no gubernamentales puede ser contraproducente planes excesivamente destallados. Aunque se logre incorporare/entomo social en la planificacion mediante procesos participativos existen muchos motivos para modificar constantemente ta planificacion. Por tanto, se requieren instrumentos de gestion sencillos, que puedan ser aplicados de forma autonoma, es decir, que no operen primordialmente en funcion de un plan preestablecido, sino que apayen un proceso. Se espera gue la monitoria de efectos segun principios participativos resulte adecuada para satisfacer estas necesidades.

Participative planning and evaluation - Expensive in the short term, cost effective in the long term

by Robert Kressirer

Evaluation presupposes planning. If we are going to evaluate something, assess it in retrospect, we must have some form of objectives or plan with which we can compare the situation. This also holds true for participative evaluation in which, as the name suggests, a participative element is also included.

What is the situation though in GTZ assisted projects? Are they participatively planned? In other words are the people directly affected by the project included in the planning process,oristhisataskonlyforproject staff? No comprehensive findings are available on which we could base a judgment, but a general trend can be seen from numerous individual discussions with project staff.

Before we go on to look at experience in practice, however, a brief description of the planning procedure which the GTZ has employed for several years now should be made.

Objectives-oriented project planning - ZOPP

In 1983 the ZOPP procedure was introduced and made obligatory for all GTZ-assisted projects and programmes. ZOPP is a procedure under which planning is detailed in a step by step procedure from the so-called ZOPP 1 to ZOPP 5, but it is more than that. It aims to achieve

· a team approach

· a visual illustration of the problems and potential solutions

· a process orientation

by a process of several consecutive analyses.

The first analysis to be performed under the ZOPP procedure is the participation analysis, which is followed by the problem analysis, the objectives analysis and the analysis of alternatives. Once one option (or alternative as it is called in ZOPP) has been decided on, a project planning matrix (PPM) is drawn up. The results of the ZOPP planning workshop serve as a proposal for decision-makers and are then used as the basis for project implementation (with or without modifications).

The participation of the partner country, and the target group in particular takes place step by step. The first workshop, ZOPP 1, is held at the GTZ Head Office. The application from the partner country is examined to see if it is "eligible and feasible for promotion"-in other words is it compatible with the development policy of the Federal Republic of Germany. It is established whether or not the data given in the application are sufficient to understand the partner country's project idea, and decided whether or not the German contribution is feasible and expedient.

All ZOPP planning workshops thereafter are held in the partner country. In ZOPP 2 external appraisers are initiated into the focal areas of the appraisal. Following the appraisal in the partner country during which existing contacts to potential project executing agencies and to the target group are often strengthened, a ZOPP 3 workshop is held. At this workshop the project partners (the project executing agency, representatives of the target group, GTZ staff and the appraisers) draw up a provisional project concept, which is then used as the basis for the decision-making process in the partner country, and for the offer which the GTZ submits to the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation (BMZ). If the Ministry decides in favour of the project it commissions the GTZ with implementation of the German contribution. In the partner country the project executing agency is determined, and a government agreement between the partner country and the Federal Republic of Germany provides the political framework for activities.

After a brief period (6 - 9 months) of familiarisation with the tasks and the problems, a ZOPP 4 workshop is held in the partner country. Prior to this, contact is established between the locally contracted and seconded staff and the state agencies, and, as a top priority, to the target group or target groups. Within the project the process of team building also starts at this time.

At the ZOPP 4 workshop the rough planning is worked out in more detail and is operationalised. Prior to this workshop or at the workshop itself the target group can and must participate in formulating the plans. Later in this article it will be discussed what this means in practice. The workshop lasts some 3-10 days during which the planning takes on a concrete form, on the basis of the results of planning workshops 1 to 3 and of up-to-date information.

After 2-4 years of implementation a thorough review of the project must be performed (e.g. on the basis of a project progress review) and a revised or updated plan produced within the scope of a ZOPP 5 workshop.

Participative planning possible as from ZOPP 3

This brief overview of the five steps of the ZOPP procedure may give the impression that the interests and fears of the target group have, at best, a marginal role to play in planning, and that their participation is likewise minimal. This is, however, not the case. At the latest, as from ZOPP 3 planning can be performed on a participative basis and thus a foundation can be laid for participative evaluation.

In practice problems tend to arise more because of unfavourable general conditions or because the procedure is not properly applied than because of any inherent deficits or gaps in the ZOPP procedure per se.

A wide variety of groups and persons attend a ZOPP workshop, from representatives of the target group, to civil servants from the relevant state authorities, to ministers, project staff members and GTZ representatives. In practice it is too much to expect of the representatives of the target group that they be willing and able to express their interests and fears, their problems and wishes in an appropriate form in such a forum. It is therefore the job of the project staff to integrate the target group or target groups prior to the workshop, which is in practice often dominated by decision-makers.

Participative planning at village level

According to the information we have received from project staff participative planning is being performed more and more. Specific problems such as the infrastructure, water supply, health etc. are discussed in small planning workshops, e.g. in individual viIlages, before the actual ZOPP workshop and the results are recorded. These are then introduced at the "real" workshop in an appropriate form.

Another approach has been tested, for example, in one rural development project in the north-west of Zambia. Some 4,000 widely scattered small farmers who collect honey and wax from wild bees as either their principal source of income or as a secondary income, have been organized in small groups. In order to integrate them in the planning of the "beekeeping" component of the project, large beekeeping conferences were held with between 200 and 400 representatives of the small farmers attending. In this way the project was able to plan activities in line with the wishes and needs of the target group, and at each conference the previous phase was also evaluated.

Planning and evaluation must go hand in hand

The link between planning and evaluation is very clear here. In the launch stage of a new project only planning can be performed with the target group. Once the first activities have taken place though, the process evaluation of the previous phase, planning of the next phase is repeated time after time.

Because of the scarcity of available resources projects have to continually observe and assess their activities and the impacts thereof. The project planning matrix and the plan of operations form a basis for monitoring and evaluation. Just as the target group or target groups can be integrated into planning, monitoring too can be performed on a participative basis.

In another regional rural development project in Asia, for example, the planned project activities were publicized on large charts at a specified place in the villages of the project region. At regular intervals discussions were held between the project staff and the villagers, at which the latter told the project team whether or not the planned activities were actually being performed, and how the quality of activities was assessed.

Approaches like this towards a participative evaluation should not, and indeed must not be limited to project activities. At the impact level it is even more imperative that the target group or groups be integrated. Projects are designed to help solve specific problems of a certain group of people, in other words they are designed to have an impact. The impacts formulated in the project purpose and objectives are given a concrete shape in the form of relevant indicators.

So, how can the target group be integrated into the evaluation? How can we really determine whether or not the project has had really positive impacts for them? This depends partly on the formulations of the indicators and partly on the way information is collected.

Lots of ways to evaluate participatively

For the first question, the obvious answer is to formulate impacts at project purpose level as the benefit the target group has from the project activities. For example the provision of consultancy services, or the number of applications for credit for appropriate post-harvest protection technology can be taken as a way of measuring the actual benefit of the project activity "technology development, testing, prototype construction etc. "

At the level of the overall goal the impact can be defined as the benefit accruing to the target group as a result of utilising the service offered by the project, e.g. reduction in post-harvest losses, higher income by marketing processed primary products etc.

There are many procedures which can be used in order to integrate the target group. Methods vary from the passive integration by means of random interviews to obtain data, the so called rapid rural appraisal, to the active participation of the target group in a wide variety of possible approaches such as, for example, group discussions, small-scale workshops, roll playing and theatre.

If participation is to be given sufficient consideration in the process of project planning and implementation the following must be taken into account:

· Participative evaluation should take place on the basis of participative planning.

· Participative evaluation covers the assessment of project activities, but also, and primarily, the impacts of the project on the target group.

· Participative evaluation is not something for a one-day event, it is a continuous process.

Participation increases the costs of project implementation since the procedure of decision-making will become more time-consuming and thus more costly with the increased numbers involved in the decision making process. In the long term, however, this procedure should prove to be more cost-effective than the traditional top-down planning, since the results will be more sustainable.

When the target group or target groups are integrated into the project planning and implementation at early stage, the chances of activities being continued and innovations being accepted are considerably increased.


This article starts by explaining the planning procedure which has been used by the GTZ for many years - objectives-oriented project planning or ZOPP. The author goes on to look at the ways of incorporating the target group in planning and evaluation, and concludes that ZOPP as a method does take account of the participative e/ement The article also looks at participative evaluation and various approaches to it.


Cet article commente en premier lieu la methode de planification des projets emplayee depuis des annees par la GTZ, a saoir la planification des projet par objectifs (ZOPP). A la lumiere de cette derniere, I'auteur examine les possibilites de participation des groupes cibles et arrive a la conclusion que cette methode de planification tient parfaitement compte de l'element participatif. L´evaluation participative ainsi que diverses approches s'y rapportant sont egalement traitees dans cet article.


En laprimeraparte del articulo se explica el metodo de planificacion de proyectos que viene aplicando desde hace anos la GTZ, conocido como Planificacion de Proyectos Orientada a Objectivos (ZOPP). Partiendo de esta explicacion, el autor analiza las posibilidades que tienen los grupos destinatarios de tomar parte en los proyectos y de participar activamente en su estructuracion. Terminado el analisis, llega a la conclusion de que el metodo ZOPP tiene en cuenta debidamente el elemento participativo. En el articulo se discuten, ademas, la evaluacion participativa y distintos enfoques para su realizacion.

The forgotten overall goal

Impact Analysis of German Technical Cooperation Programmes is Rarely Integrated in Project Implementation

by Nina Boschmann

" Help to self-help" is the core of German development policy, the declared overall goal of Technical Cooperation "to increase the performance capacity of individuals and organisations". The support afforded by the GTZ is intended to enable the counterpart, be it a state authority, a private executing agency or a group of the poor in the population, increasingly to solve its problems independently.

Astonishingly this dimension has, however, rarely been incorporated into the GTZ's planning and reporting practice, in contrast to the Church agencies. Although enormous efforts have been made to upgrade project management, project impacts are hardly ever analysed.

Where impacts are documented we find almost exclusively negative side effects (e.g. environmental degradation, negative impact on the standing of women). Fields such as "participation" or "ability to solve problems" are not mentioned, although they enjoy such high priority when development cooperation is presented in public. Today's PR material rarely shows the German expert of the past, rolling up his sleeves, prepared to get to grips with the task of development. Much more often we see self-confident individuals from the Third World at work.

One-dimensional planning methods

So, why are the impacts of TC projects merely propagated, rather than being analysed? The first reason is as simple as it is revealing: long-term guidelines usually take a back seat in direct project management. They reflect a sort of basis consensus reached by the various actors, but are rarely used to influence concrete actions.

This is heightened by the application of a one-dimensional, hierarchical planning procedure as used by the GTZ. Since the mid-80s most Technical Cooperation projects have been structured according to the tenets of ZOPP (the German acronym for objectives-oriented project planning). This planning method is based on a strong causal link. Thus for every project an overall goal is laid down, and from this the project purpose and objectives, results and activities are derived.

Results and activities are laid down exactly in the plan of operations in quantitative terms and as regards the timing. Progress reports on the implementation thereof must be submitted every six months. The reporting system is standardized and in many cases computerized. The system is designed to give the GTZ Head Office a rapid overview of project progress and indicate when action must be taken. It cannot therefore be too complex or comprehensive.

So as not to overtax the projects recourse is often taken to external planners to draw up the plan of operations. Sector-specific indicator banks are intended to facilitate the selection of indicators necessary to verify activities and results.

Despite the obvious advantages of the system for GTZ Head Office the procedure has drastic consequences for the projects. Interdependence between various activities, results or objectives are not recorded. The restriction to one overall goal (e. 9. autarchy of an isolated province in basic foodstuffs) means that it is very often unclear that, for example, very different activities are needed to achieve a rapid increase in the production of one crop than, to anchor food production within a specific target group.

Where a choice must be made between a production-oriented objective and a participation-oriented objective (say 90% of farmers in the province cultivate staple foods again), the former is usually selected, perhaps with some sort of condition attached.

The convenience of having easily formulated indicators blinds planners to the fact that each historical situation demands its own individual solution, and that a sustainable solution is only possible when the people involved help to design it. This phenomenon now no longer appears to be a situation to be achieved, it is taken as read.

The same thing happens at lower levels in the planning hierarchy. Everybody who has ever attended a ZOPP seminar has seen how certain aspects, which many participants considered important are "only" recorded as assumptions, which need only be touched on in reports.

The concentration on tried and tested, i.e. output-oriented objectives in planning is facilitated since, at first sight, these indicators appear clearer, more solid, more unassailable than participation-oriented objectives.

One thousand hectares of maize are one thousand hectares of maize. What do the conflicts at a village meeting, however, say about the ability of villagers to solve their food problems? Of course the one thousand hectares of maize may be badly maintained and produce a low harvest, they may in fact be somewhat less than claimed because the state agricultural extension agent exaggerated opportunistically, the farmers may be unable to sell the harvest profitably. But the one thousand has a magic ring to it, something impressive about it which bears testimony to great participation and can be passed on without major complications.

The type of conflicts at a village meeting on the other hand may reflect the strenuous efforts of the farmers to find new ways, to cut the umbilical cord to the project and process their own experiences. But it has a whiff of subjectivity: who can ever check what was said there and what the consequence was thereof?

If the path of traditional planning, geared to easily quantifiable indicators is once taken, there is practically no justification for a project to suddenly start recording other project impacts outside this framework, specially since recording such impacts demands imagination and is time consuming and complicated.') It is rare that anyone takes a more farsighted approach.

External or GTZ appraisers who perform periodic progress reviews also tend to stick to the schema laid down in planning.

The bureaucracy's own interests

This completely logical behaviour pattern at project level is strengthened by the attitude of many of the GTZ's counterpart organisations which can be classed as part of the state bureaucracy.

It is not generally in the interests of these institutions for the poor target groups to learn subtleties, which make their clientele as independent as possible from the bureaucracy.

In the fight with other state and nongovernamental groups for funding and influence it is important for them to be able to provide evidence of directly attributable success. Since salaries are usually low, employees must be given clear tasks and subjected to a rigid control.

Many counterparts share this point of view. A civil servant who is responsible for a major programme is seen to be less replaceable in times of austerity than his colleague who is only in charge of a small-scale project. Project impacts at target group level are not necessarily anything to be proud of.

The following example taken from a soil protection project in Ecuador illustrates this.

Division of labour

In cooperating with NGOs the GTZ is often confronted with the other extreme - the rejection of all quantifiable objectives which could inhibit the awareness building process of the target group. Project impacts are then also difficult to determine when it was not laid down at the start, how we are to recognize that the change has taken place.

Even if we agree that both the quantitative output of a project and the social and awareness-building impacts contribute to the success of the project there is still no decision about the priorities to be set between the two. A project will always become more complex if the "impact analysis" is incorporated in a serious manner.

The final reason for the lack of impact analysis in GTZ projects can be found in the division of responsibilities between the GTZ and the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation (BMZ). The evaluations performed by the BMZ are more methodically demanding and more comprehensive than the GTZ project progress reviews.

They are the only systematic impact analysis of Technical Cooperation projects alongside the BMZ's periodical cross-section analyses on specific topics (e. 9. project impacts on women).

Recent BMZ publications tend to continue this division of responsibilities, while recommending that the GTZ record so-called "experience values" (subjective, non-formalized experiences which are considered important) in its field, so as to augment their serviceability as an early warning system.²)

As long as no consensus is reached on this point project impacts will continue to be analysed only very late in the course of the project or when massive problems arise, by which time it is often too late to rectify things by steering or management.

A civil servant from the statistics office visits a GTZ-assisted project at the forestry administration, to record data on the total surface area undergoing afforestation.

Civil servant: "So, how many hectares do you have then?"

GTZ: "We don't have any hectares."

Civil servant: "I beg your pardon. You can ten me in acres if you prefer."

GTZ: "We're not afforesting any acres either." Blank astonishment and incomprehension on the part of the civil servant.

GTZ: "We're carrying out soil protection activities, planting trees around fields and on meadows, generally indigenous trees. You can't measure it in hectares. Our objective is, in any case, to get as many farmers as possible involved, not to afforest a surface."

Civil servant: "Well that's very interesting I'm sure. But what can I write?"

GTZ: "Write what I just told you. "

Civil servant: "No, I can't do that Should I write zero?" Counterpart: (agonised scream) NOOOOOOO!!!!!


The analysis of project impacts is not part of the GTZ's everyday routine. That is the thesis of the author of this article. She reaches her conclusion on the grounds of the planning methods used (objectives-oriented project planning) and the attitude of counterpart organizations, which are often more interested in short-term visible success. The author sees the division of responsibility between the GTZ and the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation (BMZ) as another reason for this state of affairs.


L´analyse des effets du projet n'est pas prevue dans le travail quotidien de la GTZ. Telle est la these de l'auteur du present article qui cite comme raisons de cet etat de fait les methodes de planification employees (planification des projets par objectifs) et le comportement des organisations partenaires qui visent souvent des succes rapidement presentables. Une autre raison citee par /'auteur est la division du travail, telle qu'elle est actuellement pratiquee entre le Ministere federal de la Cooperation economique (BMZ) et la GTZ.


El trabajo cotidiano de la GTZ no deja lugar para analizarlos efectos de los proyectos. Esta es la tesis que adelanta la autora del articulo, quien declara que esto se debe a los actuales metodos de planificacion (Planificacion de Proyectos Orientada a Objetivos)yalcomportamiento de los organismos contraparte, que con frecuencia estan interesados en obtener resultados rapidos y evidentes. Ademas, la autora discierne otros problemas derivados de la actual division del trabajo entre el Ministerio Federal de Cooperacion Economica (BMZ) y la GTZ.

An effective tool for project development

Report on an Impact Study of Village-Level Blacksmith's Shops

by Ruth N. Lopez

Bolos, ploughs, forging tongs, fire boxes, blowers, hammers, car coil springs, iron scraps. These were a few of the basic farm tools and implements and fabricating materials that were of interest to an all-women team as they investigated the impact of a project that was an all-male domain - blacksmithing at village-level.

The impact study, specifically, wanted to look at the outputs, effects and the impact of village-level blacksmith projects implemented by peasant organizations (PO) in partnership with the Indigenous Technology Resource Station (ITRS), a SIBAT member based in Cebu. Simultaneously, the study also wanted to take note of the methodology employed, in order to contribute to the continuing and ongoing discussions on the most appropriate ways of conducting impact monitoring.

The study necessitated the gathering of basic information on the blacksmith projects, BS training programmes, village profiles, living conditions of the peasants and other sectors in the village, roles of the peasant organizations and the NGOs, viability of the blacksmith's shops, as well as effects and impacts on the direct and indirect beneficiaries. For such, the team agreed to elaborate case studies of four out of eighteen PO-ITRS initiated blacksmith projects located on five islands of the Visayas, in Central Philippines; and to utilize a participatory approach.

A women undertaking

The impact study was a joint undertaking of four organizations, all involved in the promotion of appropriate technologies. Each sent a representative to the impact study team which was finally composed of three Filipinos and one German national.

The team was as an all women mission - a fact that only came to light when they met to undertake the first field work, but which turned to be favorable for the study, as this facilitated help and cooperation from the blacksmiths and farmers.

In keeping with the participatory approach, efforts were made to ensure that all four members were present at the design and instrument formulation as well as the analysis and packaging aspects of the study. This could not be strictly enforced however. So while two members fully participated in the entire duration of the study, the others were involved at varying phases.

Some important clarifications

To look into project impact is to look at project realization. It means reviewing what has happened, and pausing to reflect, not so much for the purpose of knowing what went right or wrong, but more for drawing out the lessons and recommendations that could strengthen the project's implementation strategies and schemes. This impact study of village-level blacksmith shops was seen as such and, based on its objectives and the time chosen for its implementation, was a combination of an on-going and a final evaluation, without being strictly either one.

As mentioned earlier, the team opted for a participatory approach with instruments and techniques adopted mainly from the social sciences and anthropology. In the process, it applied a combination of components from both a participatory and empirical research approach. It hinged on a inductive method - starting at village-level.

The participatory approach

The study team invited major project participants - from local partner NGOs, to farmers organizations, to individual farmers and the blacksmiths themselves - to get involved in the study. This was to enhance dialogue, to jointly undergo a common learning process with them and to encourage commitment with a view to generating the necessary innovations. But despite all these efforts, the project partners could not be fully mobilized throughout all the steps of the study. Their participation was most visible during the field data gathering and analysis portions of the study. Most of the suggestions and recommendations emanate from them.

Village integration was a must. It was done for the twin purposes of developing peoples trust, confidence and cooperation with the study team and of getting a first-hand feel of the realities of village life. This was cultivated by living in the villages, sharing and working with the people, collectively discussing problems, affirming findings and elaborating common suggestions. Time spent in doing this did not suffice, however, but what the study team missed out, the farmers representatives ably covered.

As the peace and order situation at the four selected sites was delicate, necessary protocol was observed. Courtesy calls to provincial commanders, town mayors and village captains were paid to inform them of study objectives and, more importantly, to get their cooperation. In these instances, the presence of an expatriate in the team was a bonus: she easily got the clearances.

Before the team went into its first field study, special guidelines for interviews for each key respondent were elaborated. These were done with representatives from the local NGOs and farmers organizations who also gave introductions and orientation on projects and the sites. The questionnaires formulated were never actually used, except as general reference for checking the adequacy of data on hand and as guide for the team. As a more open and less formal atmosphere was called for, immediate and creative improvisations were made.

The practice of giving project overviews at the onset was appreciated a lot as it facilitated the process of getting acquainted with the projects under review. It became a standard opener in every area visited.

A part of peoples' initiatives

The village-level blacksmith projects, as part of the peoples' initiatives towards socioeconomic development in the rural areas, directly inputs into an agricultural production program aimed at promoting a self-sustaining farm economy. Specifically, it has aimed to

a) equip farmers with skills and techniques in fabricating farm tools and implements;

b) set-up village blacksmith shops, and

c) repair, fabricate and mass-produce farm tools and implements.

As with any similar project in its formative years, it has been faced with difficulties necessitating mid schedule detours and modifications among which are: the pioneering nature of the project itself; the dynamics and complexities of socieconomic milieu in which it operates; the limited resources and capabilities of the organizations concerned; and the inability to fully flesh out the details of project implementation during its design stage.

Such difficulties and shortfalls notwithstanding, the study revealed that the blacksmith projects have contributed to the realization of organizational goals and objectives. The project has become one of the more viable tools for forging collective efforts and tempering farmer organizations in gaining fuller control over the agricultural production process. More specifically, in a modest manner, the project has equipped farmers with skills and techniques in fabricating and repairing basic farm tools and implements and in establishing eighteen village-level blacksmith shops all over the Visayas.

Effects on the network

The study has created positive impact on the network. It has affirmed the necessity of pausing and reflecting on what has been, before rushing headlong into the project's next phase or continuity. It has afforded ITRS an initial insight into the village-level blacksmith project's over-all status vis-a-vis its original objectives; it has allowed a look into specific concerns which the project need to address, such as upgrading product quality and studying dispersal patterns or even marketing potentials.

Already, some other members, in partnership with the National Secretariat, have gone into similar undertakings, i.e. studies on community seed banks and demonstration/experimental farms, with the results and instrumentality used in the blacksmith project study as important materials in deciding how to proceed.

This kind of impact study has been regarded as an effective tool for project development, is relatively easy and within capacity to implement, especially for projects needing mid schedule review in the light of longer term project implementation. With what it can do and with the continuing efforts at improving the methodologies employed, impact studies shall be incorporated in the over-all SA evaluation planned by the network next year and in other projects that the National Secretariat shall be engaged in the future.


The author describes the procedure employed by a team of German and Philippine women in producing an impact study on village level blacksmiths, which had been established by farmers' organizations in conjunction with the Indigenous Technology Resource Station, a member of SIBAT. Four of a total of eighteen projects, all on Visayas, in the Central Philippines were examined in detail.


L´auteur decrit la methode utilisee par une equipe germano-philippine exclusivement composee de femmes pour la realisation d'une analyse des effets relative a des forges villageoises. Ces equipements communautaires ont ete amenages par des organisations de paysans en cooperation avec l"'lndigenous Technology Resource Station" une organisation membre de SIBAT. Quatre des 18 projets au total, tous mis en oeuvre aux Visayas, Philippines centrales, ont ete passes au crible fin.


La autora describe la forma de proceder de un equipo filipino-aleman, compuesto exclusivamente de mujeres, al analizar los efectos de un proyecto de talleres de herreria a nivel de aldeas. Se trata de instalaciones fundadas por organizaciones campesinas en colaboracion con la "Indigenous Technlogy Resource Station" una organizacion afiliada a SIBAT: Se estudiaron a fondo cuatro de los dieciocho proyectos que se vienen realizando en las islas Visayas, en la parte central de archipielago filipino.

The next article by Dorsi Germann sketches what it really means to work in an international team, and the experience she gained, as the only German national in a team of Filipinos.

Creative cooperation demands mutual understanding

The Experience of an Expatriate Expert in a Team of Local Experts

by Dorsi German

This article is dedicated to my Philippine colleagues Anni, Beng and Ruth with my grateful thanks. It examines the reasons for our decision to employ a participative approach and reports on our experience with this method. The article focusses on the coming together of two cultures and on how to deal with one another.

While we were planning this study in Germany our main concerns were

a) to discover what impacts a project had at village level and thus also to discover more about the rural situation, and

b) to investigate this using a method which was just a bit different from the evaluation methods normally used. We wanted to discover the advantages and disadvantages of this method.

So we were investigating on one hand the project, and on the other hand the method used in the investigation itself.

Why did we decide to take a participative approach?

It is our assumption that research is subjective. In other words the experience and the values of a researcher influence his other perception and are reflected in his or her interpretation of reality. We believe that a team of various, quite different researchers can reduce this distortion to a minimum.

Project appraisal is primarily designed so that undesirable impacts of a project can be corrected. It is not enough merely to record the weaknesses found and propose changes. These changes must take place. The probability of these being translated into practice with energy and commitment is highest when the project staff and the people really affected in the project region have been actively and responsible involved in the investigations and planning.

The participative approach to investigation is, by its very nature, different from the "classical" approach to evaluation. The participative approach focusses on the process of investigation, the common learning process, on coming to terms with the viewpoints and the values of others, in getting involved in the cultural interrelations of another society and in the desire to understand these. Qualitative methods are used, which are relatively unstructured, and open to changing situations and conditions.

This sort of approach is much more in line with the cultural values and communication patterns of most so called Third World countries than our Eurocentric quantitative measuring techniques. Investigations in an alien cultural situation also demands a much higher degree of flexibility and spontaneous adaptability than one can expect of standardized instruments.

Cooperation on an equal basis with people from very different cultural backgrounds, with very different levels of training and with completely different experiences and interests is, in any case, only possible if a procedure is selected which is equally easily comprehensible to and accepted by all participants, and which all participants can realize.

The procedure adopted

Our approach made us particularly dependent on winning the acceptance, trust and cooperation of the villagers. Our integration, our living in the village was intended as a confidence-building measure, and, at the same time, it enabled us to obtain real grassroots information, beyond the narrow constraints of the project. Since the project itself was still in the implementation phase, our findings could lead to timely and expedient corrections. Thus, for example, after first results had been discussed with the NGO which was acting as project executing agency, we were asked to research locally variable ploughs on the spot, so that the practical part of blacksmiths' training could be immediately brought into line with the real situation on the ground. During our study it had emerged that the plough type which blacksmiths learned to produce in their training was not the model usually used, and was thus rejected by potential customers.

Our methods also allowed for the integration of new aspects and were able to modify the ongoing project.

Dealing with what is alien

The alien, the different, the unknown inspires fear, which can easily be manifested in the form of rejection and a derogatory attitude. You need time and a lot of good will to get used to something strange, to get "acculturised", to accept the other with all his or her differences, as they are. You also need the experience that getting to know something strange, and examining it critically is an opportunity to learn something new, to gain new experience. That can only be positive both for the individual in the team and for the whole project.

A foreigner in a team, purely because he or she has more distance to things, can sometimes recognize links and interactions more easily and can question things which appear self-evident to somebody from the culture in question. Thus, new viewpoints can emerge and different experiences can be incorporated.

Project agreements demand cooperation on the part of countries with very different cultural backgrounds.

The links established are usually impersonal and bureaucratic, marked by a lack of mutual understanding and indeed by misunderstandings. Activities performed together in the partner country can help create mutual understanding and can improve current and future cooperation.

This aspect was also a topic discussed in the team and during the investigations. The presence of a foreigner in the team was welcomed by the farmers' organizations, even where they created more accommodation problems than was necessary. They felt that they were being taken seriously and upgraded by the exchanged everyday experience. It was also exciting and satisfied some of their curiosity.

The special treatment we were accorded by the military and the local authorities on the other hand was negative, although it did give us easier access to the village.

Shared experience spawns trust

We lived in the villages. Generally we shared a small room in the house of our host family. We went with them to the market, bought food, went to the fields with the farmers, spent some time on the village square and at the blacksmith, washed our clothes at the public well. Thus we took part in the normal day-to-day life in the village while continuing our observations and we held discussions with individuals and with groups.

In the evening we discussed the events and results of the day in the team, and often with our host families. We also drank palm wine, sang, laughed and reported on our personal experiences. This shared experience of everyday life made it much easier for us to get to know one another and to accept one another.

The process was accelerated by shared critical experiences, such as the aftershock of an earthquake or the military threat, which demanded active mutual help and solidarity. In this way the fear of the stranger on both sides was countered and the mutual trust which is so necessary built up, which made cooperation possible.

Dealing with criticism

The quality of cooperation within the team was dependent on the way we dealt with one another. Divergent cultural communication patterns demanded tolerance and the willingness to learn on both sides.

In the Philippine culture one does not criticize, or only extremely rarely. Sometimes ridicule is chosen as away round the situation. The European way of dealing out criticism can be very hurtful and can have very negative effects rather than being taken as constructive criticism, if it is not very much watered down and linked with a positive assessment. These were behaviour patterns which I as the only European team member first had to learn, a process which demanded much patience on the part of my Philippine colleagues. Since I was a foreigner in a cultural context which was alien to me, mistakes were inevitable. Particularly at village level this could lead to misunderstandings and people being hurt, which jeopardised the continuation of the entire investigation. They had to be rectified or avoided.

Both demanded helpful criticism from my Philippine colleagues, who, however, were unaccustomed to meeting out criticism since it is not part of their behaviour pattern. Only one way was open to me - to criticise myself. When I suspected that i had done something wrong I offered them a whole range of possibly unacceptable behaviour. In the long term this strategy was positive. We began to deal with one another on a more open, companionable basis, laughed together und learned from one another.

European impatience

During the course of our joint work we were confronted with two behavioural patterns which were diametrically opposed. The patience of the Filipino was contrasted by the European pressure of time and pressure to perform. The collision of these two opposites resulted in a great many unnecessary conflicts. I tended towards speed and action and tended to disregard the situation, the conditions and the consequences. My colleagues were patient with me, a virtue which I learned much later. As we became less tense and more sure in our work though, as we developed greater trust to one another, it became easier for us to deal with pressure and with inactivity. By the end of the study we worked informally, creatively and efficiently together- and working together was fun.

The external expert and the participative approach

The understanding and the tasks demanded of an external expert are very different in a participative approach to those demanded by a "classical" evaluation. He or she is expected to be par inter pares and to be in a position to question what he or she has learned too. The expert should incorporate his or her own experience and knowledge such that a joint learning process is possible within the team and such that this process can develop and mature. He or she should be able to take a back seat and must be skilled in education techniques. Good cooperation demands that all participants be willing to cast aside their own interpretation patterns and be open to the ideas and stimuli of others. There is no place for an expert who is intent only on making his or her own individual mark. Given this, it can only be positive if the members of a team come from various cultural and professional backgrounds.


In this article the author sketches her own personal experience as the only foreign expert in a Philippine team performing a project evaluation. The participative approach was selected for the evaluation. The author describes not only the problems which arose in using this method, but the interpersonal problems which cannot be entirely avoided when people from completely different cultural backgrounds are thrown together.


Dans son article, l'auteur raconte les experiences qu'elle a personnellement recueillies, aux Philippines, en sa qualite d'unique expert feminin etranger au sein d'une equipe de femmes, dans le cadre d'une evaluation de projet. Pour cette evaluation il a ete opte pour l'approche participative. L´auteur decrit non seulement les problemes lies a la methode choisie, mais aussi et surtout les problemes des relations humaines, qui naissent inevitablement de la confrontation de cultures fondamentalement differentes.


En su articulo, la autora describe vivencias muy personales como unica experta extranjera en un equipo de colegas filipinas, durante una evaluacidn de proyecto que se realizo segun el enfoque participativo. La descripcio se limita unicamente a las dificultades que plantea el metodo seleccionado, sino que destaca especialmente problemas inevitables de interaccion humana que se dan cuando se encuentran personas de fondos culturales completamente distintos.