ILO is a specialized agency of the United Nations

264th Session
Geneva, November 1995

VI. Lessons learned

55. In order to ensure the effectiveness and sustainability of technical cooperation programmes and projects, continuous and systematic attention should be given to the participatory process by which project results are being obtained and objectives achieved. This requires the full commitment and active involvement of the project partners not only during project implementation, but also during preparation and evaluation. It has been shown that when the target groups and their partner institutions are involved at the planning stage, they are more firmly committed to the participatory processes than those who are not.

56. It is important to undertake baseline studies before implementation with the active participation of the intended beneficiaries and other partners. Such studies should include a problem analysis, a needs assessment and a definition of the objectives. Implementation will be more efficient when the partners have helped to formulate the project's objectives and have committed themselves to achieving them. A well-developed M&E system comprising a set of key indicators facilitates the close monitoring of project implementation by the project partners, in both quantitative and qualitative terms.

57. Of special concern in projects with participatory approaches is not only that objectives should be clearly stated, but that all the main actors should have the same understanding of what is expected of them as their contribution towards the achievement of the objectives. Only then can the necessary commitments from all the partners concerned be secured.

58. Donor agencies should be constantly aware that participatory processes take time to develop and that their long-term commitment is of crucial importance, especially to those projects with strong training and organizational components.

59. Some projects paid insufficient attention to the active participation of women, whilst others failed to take into account cultural or physical constraints on their participation. To overcome such problems the involvement of women target groups is necessary from the very beginning of the programming cycle, ensuring that activities take account of their specific interests, needs and preferences.

60. Many of the above lessons learned are not really new to anyone familiar with technical cooperation evaluations. However, the assessment in this paper has shown that whenever participation elements are found either as a means or as an end, they significantly enhance the effectiveness, relevance, efficiency and sustainability of technical cooperation activities. Moreover, when participatory approaches are used as a management tool, they become an essential instrument in promoting, and even institutionalizing, tripartism in policy decision-making. Furthermore, regardless of the technical fields where participatory approaches are applied, not only better are results obtained, but they are also more lasting as a result of the long-term commitment that can be secured from the main actors involved. In sum, whether or not participation is an aim in itself, the application of participatory approaches to ensure the active involvement of all the actors and partners concerned in every phase of the programming cycle is a crucial prerequisite in obtaining a greater impact of technical cooperation activities.

61. Finally, the consultative and interactive mechanisms being established between the ILO and its constituents in the framework of the Active Partnership Policy have increasingly enabled governments and employers' and workers' organizations to play a greater role in the design, monitoring and evaluation of the ILO's programmes and projects.

Geneva, 5 September 1995.

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Updated by VC. Approved by NdW. Last update: 26 January 2000.