Participatory M&E Project Cycle

Compared to a more conventional approach, the project cycle for a PM&E approach is somewhat different. A participatory approach to M&E builds on the involvement of all relevant stakeholders at every stage of the process, encouraging dialogue at the grassroots level (Estrella et al., 2000; Estrella & Gaventa, 1998; Shah et al., 2006; Margoluis & Salafsky, 1998). As such, additional steps or phases are important within PM&E, as stakeholders must collectively plan and design the M&E process. Additionally, emphasis is placed on the learning processes that can take place throughout a PM&E process, and the unique opportunity afforded to participants to learn from experience and adapt management strategies as new information becomes available (Estrella & Gaventa, 1998; Shah et al., 2006; Margoluis & Salafsky, 1998; Onyango, 2018). Therefore, feedback and participatory decision making based on evaluation results are an important step in a PM&E project cycle (Shah et al., 2006).

That being said, typically a PM&E process is organized into nine key phases.

Select the “+” over each of the phases to learn more about what is involved in each.


There are 9 phases of the participatory M&E project cycle. Phase 1, Appraisal, is the process that enables communities to analyze and share their knowledge, experiences, views, and concerns on different topics related to their physical, economic, and social conditions. This is also the step in which you would identify and actively engage with all relevant stakeholders and rights holders. Phase 2, Planning and Project Design, is where an activity or project is designed jointly by all of the relevant stakeholders. This means that all key decisions regarding the project will be taken jointly by the community participants and project leads, including objectives, activities to be implemented, timelines, processes, etc. During Phase 3, Development of Baseline Indicators, stakeholders collectively identify and select the project indicators. Phase 4, Baseline Data Collection, occurs before implementing the project. Collecting data after the project has already started means losing an opportunity to measure the project’s impact by comparing a “before” and “after” snapshot of the community situation and the changes that occurred as a result of project activities. Phase 5, M&E Planning and Design, is where the M&E plan is designed jointly by all relevant stakeholders. This includes making decisions about recording the data and information, who maintains the records, how often data will be gathered, etc. During Phase 6, Implementation, the activities that were planned to reach the project goals can begin. In Phase 7, Monitoring and Review, stakeholders collect and analyze data for the purposes of their project. They manage activities and, based on the findings of ongoing monitoring, they consider and adopt course corrections, as needed. Phase 8, Evaluation, determines whether and to what extent the project or activity was able to achieve its objectives. Lastly, Phase 9, Feedback and Decision Making, shares information with partners and with others not directly involved with the project. Sharing information is also key to the participatory evaluation process. Skip to next piece of content.



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Building Sustainable Communities: Monitoring and Evaluation Copyright © by Ryan Plummer; Amanda Smits; Samantha Witkowski; Bridget McGlynn; Derek Armitage; Ella-Kari Muhl; and Jodi Johnston is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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