This publication captures the dynamics and discussions of INTRAC’s Fifth International Conference on Monitoring and Evaluation (M&E), held in April 2003 in the Netherlands. The enthusiasm generated at the conference, by presentations of innovative and participatory monitoring and evaluation practice from the South, finds resonance in the rhetoric of participation currently employed by many development actors.

However, it was also observed that there are still many barriers to the acceptance of flexible and responsive monitoring and reporting in the field. In an attempt to understand the background to this current impasse, the first section of the publication addresses theoretical concerns, through the inclusion of keynote speeches from the conference, and papers from workshop sessions. The second half of the publication is devoted to short case studies of innovative M&E experiences. These case studies illustrate the circumstances under which it has been possible to break away from traditional forms of M&E, and how obstacles to more reflexive approaches are overcome.

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