International donor agencies and governments of developing countries are seeking waysto increase the involvement of project beneficiaries in the design and management ofdevelopment projects. However, very little systematic evidence is available on thepotential costs and benefits of community participation (CP). The evaluation of CP iscomplicated by a division between advocates of efficiency and empowerment objectives.Achieving consensus on evaluation strategies is further complicated by the closeassociation between empowerment objectives and qualitative evaluation methods on theone hand and efficiency objectives and quantitative evaluation methods on the other. Anumber of methodological issues are discussed with respect to the application ofcost-benefit and cost-effectiveness analysis, longitudinal and cross-sectional studies,case studies and participant observation in the evaluation of CP. A number of genderissues which affect the evaluation design also are discussed. The final section proposesa research agenda to improve our understanding of the potential contributions ofcommunity participation to the design, implementation and sustainability of developmentprojects.

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