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Lapses, infidelities, and creative adaptations: Lessons from evaluation of a participatory market development approach in the Andes

Participatory approaches are frequently recommended for international development programs, but few have been evaluated. From 2007 to 2010 the Andean Change Alliance evaluated an agricultural research and development approach known as the “Participatory Market Chain Approach” (PMCA). Based on a study of four cases, this paper examines the fidelity of implementation, the factors that influenced implementation and results, and the PMCA change model. We identify three types of deviation from the intervention protocol (lapses, creative adaptations, and true infidelities) and five groups of variables that influenced PMCA implementation and results (attributes of the macro context, the market chain, the key actors, rules in use, and the capacity development strategy). There was insufficient information to test the validity of the PMCA change model, but results were greatest where the PMCA was implemented with highest fidelity. Our analysis suggests that the single most critical component of the PMCA is engagement of market agents – not just farmers – throughout the exercise. We present four lessons for planning and evaluating participatory approaches related to the use of action and change models, the importance of monitoring implementation fidelity, the limits of baseline survey data for outcome evaluation, and the importance of capacity development for implementers.

About Eric Muthuri

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