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close this bookParticipatory Impact Monitoring - PIM Booklet 4: The Concept of Participatory Impact Monitoring (GTZ, 1996, 36 p.)
close this folder4. The Structure of PIM
View the document(introduction...)
View the document4.1 Combining the different approaches to solutions
View the document4.2 The applicability of PIM
View the document4.3 Prerequisites for and limits of PIM

4.3 Prerequisites for and limits of PIM

PIM cannot be the solution to all problems

PIM, first of all, should not be considered a set of instructions for activities, but a concept: it provides a simplified representation of a more complex process; it is limited to a manageable number of dynamic elements; it permits a planned and methodical manner of proceeding; it has to be reviewed and adapted to local conditions; it serves as an introduction to a learning process; it contains a temporary truth.

PIM is hardly formalized. When it is applied in practice to projects, PIM has to be arranged in many respects. When PIM has been defined and adapted to the respective conditions, it can be used as an instrument. Its value as a tool is also limited: The knowledge of how to use a tool is an art!

PIM is not suitable for every project. It was developed for self-help projects where there are many processes and very few structures, where actors constantly react to one another, and where change is expected continuously.

PIM is not neutral with respect to interests. PIM is participatory. It affects power structures, since it works towards giving more decision-making power to previously disadvantaged people. Since PIM brings to light internal conflicts, changes decision-making mechanisms, and limits the influence of those previously in power, it necessarily provokes resistance.

Participation is desirable, but not at any price. It should not be overlooked that participation is practiced differently in different cultures. It can be dangerous to force - in a rush of well-meant missionary zeal - ill-prepared organizations or their members to accept and implement a western-style participatory leadership model. Not every organization can handle the transparency induced by PIM. PIM can work to break up authoritarian structures, but only if many members of the group want such changes and are willing to take responsibility.

The self-help groups should exhibit the following characteristics:

Internal participation, responsibility and decision-making power should be divided among several members to a certain degree.

Continuity of the actors (slight fluctuation), internal consolidation.

The task that is to be managed must be considered an important joint concern.

Prior to introducing PIM, the cultural background of the self-help group should be examined carefully to determine whether the following preconditions are met:

Participation of women to a certain degree.
Extensive ethnic and cultural tolerance.
A certain degree of literacy.

The projects must have the following characteristics:

Flexibility of those involved in the project, especially the NGO and the funding agency.

Continuous and trusting relationship between self-help group and NGO.

Mutual wish of the self-help group and NGO to control the project jointly by means of monitoring.

When it is applied regularly, PIM demands a relatively high degree of discipline from all parties involved. In particular the NGO feel the increase in the required amount of work when they did not plan to accompany projects that were initiated. Roughly speaking about 10% of the working time should in general be reserved for joint reflection, and the PIM concept can provide suitable guidance for this.

PIM also requires certain attitudes:

Mistakes happen! The fear of mistakes has to be reduced to make possible a certain degree of self-critical behavior and, thus, learning.

All cooperation partners (for ex. self-help groups, NGOs, funding agencies) accept one another as competent partners who are willing to learn in their respective fields. Only then can autonomous monitoring and mutual comparison lead to a meaningful exchange, from which all project actors can benefit and learn.

PIM calls for confidence in the ability of the partners and, thus, willingness to cooperate. This means that there must be no impatience or paternalistic behavior. It means that all parties involved must be willing to listen to one another, to let go of their own concepts in order to be receptive for the ideas of others and to be cooperative.

Willing to cooperate

Although PIM is simple, it does require a certain amount of effort to teach its contents. The first organizations in which PIM was introduced did not understand the concept entirely. Here the introduction was accompanied by more intensive support. In one organization, however, where only a basic introduction to PIM was given, the PIM concept was quickly implemented. The successful communication of the concept of PIM still needs to be clarified.

PIM is a young concept which needs to be developed further. Right from its beginning it has been concieved together with partners from all over the world - in a process-orientated way.

We need the cooperation of other practitioners and thinkers to test and to improve PIM.

If you are implementing and testing PIM in your project area we would be very interested to hear from you. Write and tell us about your experience with PIM.

We are planning to organize more regular and more efficient exchanges, if a substantial number of practitioners continue with the development and adaptation of PIM.

Please write to


Association for Appropriate Technologies

German Appropriate Technology Exchange

Gheidestra 43

Postfach 5180

D - 70184 Stuttgart, Germany

D - 65726 Eschborn, Germany

Thank You

Participatory Impact Monitoring (PIM) is a concept for guiding self-help projects in development cooperation. The actors involved carry out the monitoring themselves. Because PIM assumes that these actors are autonomous, it has several strands or "strings" - the monitoring systems of the self: help groups and the development organizations are separate. The strings are periodically compared: the actors reflect on their observations and assessments, adapt their planning accordingly and deepen their dialogue with one another.

PIM was developed as an alternative to conventional planning, monitoring and evaluation procedures. It does not presuppose the availability of good planning documents. nor does it postpone reflection to a late evaluation.

The main purpose of PIM is to document socio-cultural impacts. By doing so it initiates and reinforces learning processes, and complements more technically or economically oriented monitoring. Al the same time it is compatible with many other monitoring concepts.

PIM was designed in a joint study by workers in development cooperation from the Philippines, India. Bolivia, Argentina and Germany, and tested in 1993/94.

Deutsches Zentrum fwicklungstechnologien

ISBN 3-528-02086-5