In the external evaluation of development interventions, beneficiaries are often involved to define priorities, and provide feedback and evaluation.
This generally uses ‘invited spaces’ such as facilitated community meetings, focus groups, mobile phone-enabled feedback, and social audits. Where external evaluation must be both independent and separate from the project’s own learning and adaptation processes, this can pose challenges. This article asks whether informal immersion in beneficiaries’ ‘own space’ can provide insights beyond ‘invited spaces’ to enhance our understanding of how people experience development interventions, particularly where these interventions are integrated and complex. The article describes the inclusion of one type of immersion research, the Reality Check Approach (RCA) within the suite of qualitative and quantitative methods used in the longitudinal (external) impact evaluation of the Ghana site under the Millennium Villages Project (MVP). The RCA in this evaluation provided a means to spend concentrated time in beneficiaries’ ‘own space’ without a project (theory-based) evaluation lens.
This article comes from the IDS Bulletin 49.4 (2018) Can Immersion Research Add Value in Understanding Integrated Programme Interventions?