Increased discussion on the merits and methods of Participatory Monitoring and Evaluation (PM&E) has emerged as a result of various trends in academic and practical fields of development thought and policy. In Latin America, as elsewhere, the inclusion of primary stakeholders in monitoring and evaluation (M&E) activities is being insisted upon by donors, and increasingly sought by Non-governmental Organisations (NGOs). But concerns over costs, timing and quality as well as use of information thus gathered are also raised.
PM&E is often still considered to be mostly an issue of method and timing, as well as of information management and effective systems, but with the addition of involving beneficiaries in a consultative process. Furthermore PM&E is mostly considered to be relevant only as an activity at a particular stage of the project cycle (e.g. mid-term evaluation, local population as monitoring agents, or evaluation at the end of project or policy cycle); less commitment and experience can be observed at the point of making effective and transparent the adaptations in planning, implementation and institutional behaviour that can result from a process of PM&E. The phase of taking PM&E beyond the realm of methodology, into that of organisational change and institutional learning for a transformative development and research agenda is only slowly being initiated. In Latin America, this new phase has its roots in various trends: