3rd Biennial South African Monitoring and Evaluation Association Conference.  Dr. David Fetterman, Fetterman & Associates and the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff (formerly from Stanford University), was one of the keynote speakers at the conference.  

Dr. Florence Etta, President of the African Evaluation Association, concluded the conference with this picture of David presenting his keynote on empowerment evaluation.  She added the heading: Our Empowerment Hero!

It was a powerful conference.  It was clear that the time was right for this idea.  The combination of a dissatisfaction with policy positions that were not sufficiently in touch with local concerns and the desire to find a way to give voice to local community members made this the opportune moment to share empowerment evaluation.  It was a window of opportunity and they took it.

The room was packed, people were lined up outside the doors and into the halls.  The audience was engaged.  I could see their faces and it was like we were sitting in a small conference room talking, even though it was a keynote in an auditorium.  There was a sense of closeness, almost family-like.  I recognized so many folks. I had many of them in my workshop at the beginning of the conference.  It just made it a warm, inviting, welcoming place to be.  But more to the point, many people responded after the keynote that it was a like a light went on. They were sympathetic to the concept but hearing it in practice made it real, understandable, and usable.

Members of the Audience - Up Close and Personal

David, Anne Letsebe, and Ros Hirshowitz


The group was great. They were completely engaged in the workshop.  We highlighted the three steps in the approach:  1) mission; 2) taking stock; and 3) planning for the future.  The questions were great, the participation was almost electric.  Once again, the act of engaging in the process (like process use itself) brought people into the empowerment evaluation approach in ways they had not anticipated before.  The overwhelming majority left with an idea about how they would apply the approach as soon as they returned home.  They could see the relevance, the immediacy, and the usefulness of the approach. It was a very rewarding time working with everyone in the workshop.

Taking Stock Part I (prioritization)

Taking Stock Part II (ratings)

Dr. Fetterman highlighting ratings, using bar graphs.

 Conference Concludes

Time to Say Good-bye

Dr. Ray Basson, SAMEA Board, Professor David Fetterman, 
Professor Sibongile Muthwa, DVC (administration), and 
Professor Fanie Cloete, University of Johannesburg

Candice Morket, SAMEA Chairperson, David Fetterman, Fetterman and Associates Associates, 
Florence Etta (AfrEA), and Nan Wehipeihana, Kinnect Group New Zealand

But Work Remains

Dr. Fetterman signing the certificates for the 
empowerment evaluation workshops at the end of the conference.


Candice Morkel said…
The power of David's work lies in how immediately useful and widely accessible it is. I have just completed my tenure as the Chair of the South African Monitoring and Evaluation Association, and as the 2011 Conference Chair I can attest to the fact that the participants were completely engaged in David's workshops and keynote address. I am convinced that SAMEA will have to consider bringing David back for additional workshops on Empowerment Evaluation, since we had to turn so many away due to it being over-subscribed. One of the reasons for the success of the 2011 Conference was largely due to David's presence and inputs, and we are so very grateful that he found the time to support SAMEA in this way. David not only preaches empowerment, but lives it as well - I spent much of my time with him asking questions and probing about his experiences and perspectives, and I found him open, engaging and extremely helpful and coach-like during our interactions. Designing evaluations for the public sector (where I currently work) is difficult largely due to issues of complexity and the management of the demands of various stakeholders/partners. I think that using empowerment evaluation as a point of departure to evaluating complicated and complex public sector development programmes is an answer to this, since it focuses the attention on those for whom services are provided, and away from the complexity, other interests or stale methodological debates. I have been inspired to immerse myself in the study and use of EE, and hope to share my experiences with other evaluators as I do so. Thanks once again to David for his work and his generous spirit.

Candice Morkel
M&E specialist (Public Sector)
South Africa

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