Participatory Monitoring in Forest Communities to Improve Governance, Accountability and Women’s Participation

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We explore how participatory monitoring can help communities and community partners define local governance, identify governance issues and problems, and improve women’s participation, based on action research from 2011 to 2015 to improve women’s participation in decision-making in indigenous communities in Nicaragua. The findings are based on experiences in developing a participatory monitoring governance tool and the lessons learned, observations about the process and results from the monitoring. We found that participatory monitoring of governance provides a mechanism to identify obstacles to community governance by creating a space for community members to evaluate local governance, identify issues and present solutions. It also created tensions with leaders who were concerned that monitoring would focus unwelcome attention on their activities. While we have yet to see if the tool actually improves women’s participation and governance—a longer-term impact—participants said that the process helped them define good governance and explore improving participation and accountability.

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