A number of key lessons emerge from the literature on participatory monitoring and evaluation (PM&E) and beneficiary feedback:
- PM&E and beneficiary feedback approaches can improve effectiveness and sustainability and reduce the costs of monitoring, but these approaches also carry risks. These include generating unrepresentative results and increasing tensions between stakeholders.
- PM&E should be understood as social and political processes. The primary barriers to PM&E and beneficiary feedback mechanisms are therefore political (relating to incentives, organisational culture and power relations), not technical.
- PM&E and beneficiary feedback mechanisms should be tailored to the local context and integrated into local political structures and processes. This requires careful facilitation and analysis, which is dependent upon the investment of time and resources.
- Although ICTs present opportunities for scaling up beneficiary feedback mechanisms, the advantages of these tools are largely unproven. It is important that ICTs are not viewed as a ‘magic bullet’ and that they are carefully tailored to context.