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Relooking at our work with communities

Kachina Chawla and Dr. Vishal Dev Shastri invited me to Dr. David Fetterman's Workshop on Empowerment Evaluation organized by USAID in Delhi.

During the workshop, Dr. David Fetterman, renowned for his work in 18 countries and numerous publications, facilitated approximately 25 participants primarily evaluation professionals, along with online attendees through the Empowerment Evaluation methodology. Dr. Fetterman shared global examples highlighting the transformative power when communities define their mission and assess their progress. This sparked discussions on challenges such as bias and the alignment of community dreams with donor priorities. Dr. Fetterman emphasized the importance of uncovering biases within community groups to address underlying issues effectively. Problems in development are Complex which are quite difficult to understand and solve. When presented with different perspectives especially those who are experiencing it we can understand the elephant in the room as Dr Fetterman mentioned it.

Participants agreed that inspite of challenges it is essential to involve communities meanigfully in program design and evaluation, challenging traditional notions of authority and expertise. This is essential for effective outcomes and sustainability as external agencies on their own cannot lead change.

Dr. Niranjan Sagguriti, the facilitator concluded that communities must lead initiatives and take ownership while Evaluation and development professionals take on the role of a critical friend and a faciitator.

The worshop re-energised me as I found a  community of people who have a simiar dream. Statement which particularly inspired me by Kachina- The prevailing narrative of competition should be replaced by one of collaboration, to build a movement of community-driven change. The onus is on us!

PS: Thanks for the title credit to Deepti Tripathi

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