Attributing value: Evaluating success and failure in post-war reconstruction

S Barakat, M Chard, R Jones

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


External analysts are already trying to evaluate the impact of the reconstruction strategies of the occupying powers in Iraq. However, those with long experience in this field caution against a rush to judgement and emphasise that it will be the Iraqis themselves who will eventually make a value judgement on how the occupation has affected their nation. The paper seeks to de. ne a possible approach to facilitating such an evaluation at the appropriate time. Study of current evaluation theory and practice leads to the conclusion that aid evaluation, particularly in post-war contexts, tends to be almost exclusively geared to the purposes of project accountability and performance. Thus it largely fails to question the culturally and ideologically determined assumptions of value which underpin post-war reconstruction interventions. As a result a satisfactory methodology for the evaluation of the long-term impact has not been developed. Concluding that a participatory approach is the key to developing such a methodology, the methodological challenges to participatory evaluation are defined, paying particular attention to approaches, attitudes and indicators. These challenges are then practically demonstrated through case studies of project evaluation in Burundi, sector evaluation in Mozambique and an interim country evaluation in Iraq. This evidence suggests that participatory methods enable understanding of both the visible effects of war and reconstruction and the invisible, emotional and attitudinal changes which are the determining factors in developing a harmonious nation.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)831-852
Number of pages22
JournalThird World Quarterly
Issue number4-5
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2005

Cite this