AEA365 | A Tip-a-Day by and for Evaluators

Apr/11

10

Oscar Figueroa on Community Development and Empowerment Evaluation

My name is Oscar Figueroa and I serve as a professor-researcher at Colegio de Postgraduados Montecillo Campus in Mexico.   In 2005 a number staff members of Colegio had the opportunity to attend a workshop with Dr. Fetterman in empowerment evaluation, since then I have been taking advantage of the empowerment tools and methodology to achieve community development.

My research interests include community capacity building and decision making, which involves a lot of effort from community members in rural Mexico, since it has been proven to be one of the most difficult goals in order to make a better use of natural resources and economic integration.

In my experience some of the elements necessary to get the most out of the empowerment workshops with community members are:

Hot Tip: Empowerment evaluation as a communication tool. One of the advantages of empowerment workshops is the “feeling” (perception) community members have that they are actually being taken into account and listened. It is very important as an empowerment facilitator to make sure all participants have clear that, whatever the objective of the workshop is (e.g. deciding about relevant projects, or natural resources management, or organization for production) the objective of the way it is conducted is to LISTEN to them and be clear about what each and all of them perceive as important, nobody is left un listened.

Hot Tip: Empowerment evaluation as a negotiation process. It is very difficult to come out with a common perception of what the main priority would be regarding development issues in any given community. That is why explaining to the workshop assistants the relevance of the empowerment method providing a way of taking into account each and every single participant standpoint is necessary. This way, everybody feels listened and taken into account and at the end of the day, even though their own idea was not the most relevant, people commit as a group on what has been “negotiated” as what is best for them all in the long run and acts accordingly.

I look forward to your thoughts and learning more about your experiences concerning community development and empowerment evaluation.

Do you have questions, concerns, kudos, or content to extend this aea365 contribution? Please add them in the comments section for this post on the aea365 webpage so that we may enrich our community of practice. Would you like to submit an aea365 Tip? Please send a note of interest to aea365@eval.org. aea365 is sponsored by the American Evaluation Association and provides a Tip-a-Day by and for evaluators.

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1 comment

  • David Fetterman · April 11, 2011 at 6:06 pm

    Hi Oscar

    Great to hear from you. We should reconnect via Skype when we get the chance; alternatively we can chat or videoconference via gmail’s video chat.

    Your points about being heard are right on target: “community members have that they are actually being taken into account and listened” to.

    If you have some time let folks know about your GIS work as well as it relates to your empowerment evaluation work and community asset mapping. I think they would be interested in hearing how you help folks map out assets (palm tree leaves, water, and so on) in their community to help them identify powerful resources in their own community and help them mobilize themselves.

    Take care and keep up the good work.

    -David

    Reply

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