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.
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