Skip to main content

Why Narrative Assessment?

Current monitoring and evaluation (M&E) methods primarily focus on results, but do not address the often-complex relations between results and efforts by ignoring the unfolding advocacy process in context and the knowledge of strategies in context employed by advocates. Rather than black-boxing the judgments and analyses behind strategies contributing to achievements and failures, in Narrative Assessment, the knowledge and skills of advocates as related by themselves forms the centre of attention.

Photo: Joost Bastmeijer (Hivos)

Photo: Hivos

Narrative assessment compared

Conventional M&E methods are not very suited for dealing with complex interventions such as advocacy. Causal pathways often cannot be fully known prior to an intervention, that what needs to be measured may not be known prior to an intervention, and processes shaping a programme and its results are not stable. Recently, M&E methods have been developed that seek to engage with complexity, including Complexity-responsive Evaluation, Complexity-Aware Monitoring, Developmental Evaluation, Contribution Analysis, Outcome Mapping and Outcome Harvesting. Nevertheless, they have certain limitations when it comes to monitoring and evaluation of advocacy as they do not address four key issues.

Added value

Realistic and contextualized sensemaking

Facilitated storytelling strengthens advocates’ sense-making which helps them reflect on their strategizing and usage of their knowledge and skills. Through a Narrative Assessment, advocates may experience that for the first time, their actual work and ways of going about their work are put into words and can finally be shared with others. This can strengthen advocates and the programs in which they work.

Photo: Sam Vox (Hivos)