Project inspection teams while conducting their review missions, almost always, ask whether projects have a monitoring and evaluation system. On the hand, I feel, they fail to give  equal attention to what happens to the information collected and stored through the monitoring and evaluation system .  

This was the background which motivated us to develop and incorporate a critical reflection mechanism as part of a participatory M&E plan. We thought that having a deliberately prepared and implemented critical reflection events will insure that the collected information is used for learning and decision making.

This reflection relates to a process we followed to understand the existing information sharing avenues the different stakeholders of a public agricultural development project have and come up with suggestion to use these as departure point  in  creating a mechanism of critical reflection for the project.   

 

The process followed as follows;

Phase 1. Group work

  1. Workshop participants were asked to form groups with their stakeholder colleagues and list down regular meetings/events organized by their stakeholder group and the frequency of these meetings/ events within the year on A4 card  (they indicated  frequency by producing copies of the meeting name  as number of meetings held  e. g . twelve copies for monthly,  four copies for quarterly, two for biannual, one for annually meetings)  etc..
  2. They were  also  asked to write issues discussed and reports made  in these events  on the same card (different color cards were given to the different stakeholder groups)
  3.  Facilitators prepared a timeline with months of the year on brown paper and spread on the floor.
  4. Then  participants were asked to put their card as  it fits to the timeline  
   

Phase 2. Tour of the market place

   

  1. Participants were asked to go around the displayed timeline and review the meetings being organized by other stakeholder groups including issues discussed in these meetings. While doing his they were also told to put small card with a similar color which identifies their stakeholder group on meetings that they attend   that are organized by other stakeholder groups.  Furthermore, they were asked to put similar sized cards but NEW written on them to show the meeting they want to attend as new participant.

 

Phase 3 Group work

  1. After   undergoing though this  process, participants  were asked to reflect on the exercise and discuss around the following  issue ;
    • Their general feeling about the exercise.
    • Their reaction to the new stakeholders who showed interest to attend their meeting
    • New issues they want to be discussed in the meetings organized by  others but they also want  to attend.

 

  Phase 3 participants

  1. Participants were asked to present results of their group discussion
  2. At last the facilitator made a wrap-up

 

My reflection of the process and the outcome

  1. The process made participants to learn about meetings or regular events organized by the different stakeholders which had a working relationship with them.  
  2. They also learned how they work in isolation as seen from the number of meetings organized by most stakeholders without  including other stakeholders
  3. I found the exercise to be useful in helping participants to understand  the  system best and suggest possible ways in creating a mechanism of critical reflection for projects involving different stakeholders.
  4. However, due to lack of time,  the process didn’t go further to come up with suggestion on how the whole critical reflection events should be coordinated in participatory way. This may be the area that should be explored further. 

 

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