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Reality Check: accountability, learning, and practice with the people who matter (PLA 57)

Ashish Shah

Journal article

The four articles in Section 4, Part 2 on programme development and accountability illustrate different ways in which NGOs and donors are using immersions to strengthen the quality of the programmes they run and their accountability to those they serve.

This article describes how one ActionAid team is using ‘reality checks’ to strengthen its own practice, linked to ActionAid’s annual process of participatory review and reflection. ‘Reality checks’ are internal to ActionAid, and so differ from the approach described by Sonya Ruparel (this issue) in which ActionAid offices and partners facilitate immersions on behalf of others. This article describes how one team in ActionAid working on HIV/AIDS is using 'reality checks' as part of their participatory monitoring and evaluation process. For the author, reality checks should not be one-off emotional experiences, but should be closely related to one's work, with the aim of building a long-term relationship with the host family. Reality checks allow development workers to check the relevance of their work with the poor and marginalised citizens they work with, and to account back to these citizens on the work they do and the money they spend in eradicating poverty and injustice.

Guest editors: Izzy Birch, Raffaella Catani with Robert Chambers.

Participatory Learning and Action (PLA, formerly PLA Notes) is the world's leading series on participatory learning and action approaches and methods. PLA publishes articles on participation aimed at practitioners, researchers, academics and activists. All articles are peer-reviewed by an international editorial board.

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