Monitoring, evaluation and learning

Submitted by Michael Rastall | published 4th Sep 2013 | last updated 8th Mar 2023
524b3ef0427c2gujarat008-large-jpg 1 - climate adaptation.

Conventionally monitoring and evaluation has been conducted by external experts using standardised tools. Participatory monitoring and evaluation enables stakeholders to be part of the process and thereby transform the M&E to an essential component in project implementation.

This guidance will continue to grow and evolve based on feedback. If you have new methods, tools or applications to add, please create a new article so it can be linked to the guidance pages. 

Below are a selection of techniques which can be used for participatory M&E:


Why community participation and monitoring?

Involving the whole community in fieldwork (and analysis) is vital for processes of trust building and providing the basis for the validity of outputs. Monitoring and evaluation stages should, where possible, take the form of a dialogue between researcher/practitioner and community, as this is where ‘actual change’ can occur, and a long-lasting and fruitful relationship can form. There is always a danger with participatory methods that the complexity in relationships and feedbacks takes too much time to process and limits the amount of time available for monitoring which can limit this dialogue, and lead to distrust.


An Asian Community of Practise for Monitoring and Evaluation of Climate Change interventions

SEA Change is a Community of Practice that develops a culture of high quality and rigorous M&E frameworks, approaches and methodologies to measure the impact of climate change interventions and practices in Asia, and beyond.


Outcome mapping

An innovative approach to planning, monitoring and evaluating international development work. Importantly, it focuses on changes in behaviour rather than development impacts per se (defined as a significant and lasting change in the well-being of large numbers of intended beneficiaries), and also incorporates aspects of self-assessment and reflection.

An important aspect of Outcome Mapping is the role of boundary partners or organisations in creating impacts on the beneficiaries. Boundary partners lie at the interface between the project proponents or implementers and the beneficiaries. Outcomes in OM are a change in behavior among boundary partners so that they in turn can facilitate developmental impacts on the beneficiaries.


The Outcome Mapping Learning Community is an informal group of over a thousand members from around the world. It acts largely as a dynamic platform for sharing knowledge and experiences relating to Outcome Mapping. Members come together to solve problems, to showcase and trade their discoveries and good practices, and to support one another in applying OM.

Most Significant Change

A participatory form of monitoring and evaluation based on listening to what people (beneficiaries/participants/stakeholders) consider to have been the most significant change resulting from the project or initiative.  As an approach it thus requires no special professional skills and is easy to communicate across cultures as people generally find it easy to tell stories about events they think were important. There is no need to explain what an indicator is.  It is also a good way to pick up unanticipated changes and changes that may challenge your assumptions of what is happening.  This approach encourages people to engage in analysis as well as data collection stages of a project as they have to explain why they believe one change is more important than another. It can be used to monitor and evaluate bottom-up initiatives that do not have predefined outcomes against which to evaluate.


Participatory Monitoring, Evaluation, Reflection & Learning (PMERL) for Community-based Adaptation: A Manual for Local Practitioners

A participatory methodology from CARE and IIED that can help measure, monitor and evaluate changes in local adaptive capacity within vulnerable communities for better decision-making on Community-Based Adaptation (CBA). 


Monitoring & evaluation for climate change adaptation: A synthesis of tools, frameworks and approaches

This report represents a synthesis and summary of frameworks for the monitoring and evaluation
(M&E) of climate change adaptation (CCA) interventions, with a specific focus on international
development projects and programs.

Photography © SEI