Evaluation is not only to determine intervention outcomes and impacts but it is also an intervention in itself. Interactions especially via FGDs with project or program stakeholders particularly decision and policymakers often leads to reflection and reassessment of commitments, priorities, and actions. This is so because there usually is a lack of mechanism during project or program implementation in which stakeholders can get together for conscious learning. The evaluation provides this venue albeit too late in the implementation stage if it takes place after the close of the intervention (hence the imperative that evaluation is built into the culture of doing things). With the assistance of the external evaluator, participants are guided through the reflection process. This itself is building stakeholders’ capacity to evaluate and in some ways may cause change to happen within persons (e.g. attitudes, perspectives, commitments), the starting point for wider external change. This way, the evaluation contributes to the theory of change that it is being assessed.
In the image below, we utilized the Most Significant Change methodology with participants (teachers) to jump-start reflection on key and important aspects of the event (a flooding disaster) and the project/intervention. From experience, the tool which consists of a few general and open-ended questions, fits in with the nature of most Filipinos i.e. it usually takes a few prodding in the right direction before participants open up with their thoughts and experiences. But the discussion could get intense especially when events such as disasters are still fresh hence the need to have skills handling such situations, otherwise experts in debriefing are made part of the evaluation team. In fact, these venues can unintentionally become partly debriefing sessions.
The evaluation process if structured correctly strengthens and reinforces project and program results. This can be facilitated when we see evaluation as intervention (in contrast to the traditional view of it being a neutral force).