Participatory Impact Assessment: a guide for practitioners

Participatory Impact Assessment: a guide for practitioners

Participatory Impact assessment for livelihoods interventions in the humanitarian sector

The ability to define and measure humanitarian impact is essential to providing operational agencies with the tools to systematically evaluate the relative efficacy of various types of interventions. Institutionalising good practice in the systems and structures of relief organisations is critical to their ability to meet the growing demands on the sector and the needs of people made vulnerable by disasters and humanitarian crises. For many interventions there are no ‘gold standards’ for measuring project impact. For example, the Sphere handbook has no clear standards for food security or livelihoods interventions. This guide aims to provide practitioners with a broad framework for carrying out project level Participatory Impact Assessments (PIA) of livelihoods interventions in the humanitarian sector.

Participatory Impact Assessment (PIA) is an extension of Participatory Rural Appraisal (PRA) and involves the adaptation of participatory tools combined with more conventional statistical approaches specifically to measure the impact of humanitarian assistance and development projects on people’s lives. The approach consists of a flexible methodology that can be adapted to local conditions. It also acknowledges local people, or project clients as experts by emphasising the involvement of project participants and community members in assessing project impact – and by recognising that ‘local people are capable of identifying and measuring their own indicators of change’.

The proposed framework provides an eight stage approach, and presents examples of tools which may be adapted to different contexts.

The eights stages include:

  • define the questions to be answered
  • define the geographical and time limits of the project
  • identify and prioritize locally defined impact indicators
  • decide which methods to use, and test them
  • decide which sampling method and sample size to use
  • assess project attribution
  • triangulate
  • feedback and verify the results with the community
( Adapted from author)