Gender & Eval Community- Year of Evaluation'2015

Marco Segone, A K Shiva Kumar & Yamini Atmavilas in front of the Gender & Evaluation community poster in Jan 2015- first event in the Year of Evaluation held in Delhi.

A taste of SALT (strength based approach) and M&E

Institute of Applied Manpower Research (IAMR), a government institute, Delhi, India invited me to facilitate a session on strength-based approach and evaluation. IAMR is conducting a three month course on Monitoring and Evaluation for international students.

Strength-based approaches believe that in every environment there are individuals, associations, groups and institutions that have potential, strength, knowledge, skills and connections. These approaches highlight a collaborative stance where people are experts in their own lives and the facilitator’s role is to encourage people to take action to achieve their dreams. Facilitators use explicit methods for identifying individual/group and environmental strengths for goal attainment.  The relationship is hope-inducing: a strengths-based approach aim to increase the hopefulness and hope can be realised through strengthened relationships with people, communities and culture. There are many strength-based approaches like Appreciative Inquiry, Community life competence, Positive Deviance, Asset-based community development, Solution Focused Therapy (SFT) etc.

I travelled 50 kms to reach IAMR but was awarded by huge campus, green lawns dotted with trees and flowers. The IAMR team had made all arrangements with stationery and projector. I was completely at ease as I saw the students trickling in dot on time. There were 24 students from 17 countries representing Africa, Asia and Europe. These students are professionals working with government, NGOs and other organisations.

As facilitator of a strength-based approach called community life competence, I shared my experiences with the approach ( Constellation an international non-profit organisation is a proponent of this approach. The Constellation draws from a belief that every community can become Life Competent: the 'state' where it is able to deal effectively with the threats and challenges that it faces. It illustrates the need for a shift away from the problem-oriented methods toward processes that build on community achievements, existing strengths and local skills. The acronym SALT summarizes this mindset. Facilitators work with each other to Stimulate further action through their appreciative questions, Support each other in the Appreciation of individual and community strengths, exchange their perspectives about what they have Learned from each visit, and prepare to Transfer lessons learned to other contexts. In essence, there is a shift in from 'expert' to 'facilitator'.


I had questions on SALT like what do support and transfer mean. I will do a story on this later.


We did two exercises to practise an appreciative way of thinking. Soon the discussion was focused on strengths and aha moments. I wasn’t sure if I should focus on community life competence or more in its application in M&E but I let the discussions steer the agenda.


We learned that strengths vary from person to person and drew up an exhaustive list of strengths. We had sharing from the students as well as the faculty members.  We had stories how someone had worked hard to achieve her dream to visit US, how a faculty member struggled to support his family when he lost his father at an early age. Then how another faculty member always tried to help others and yet another member had worked with street children and received so much love from them. There were fun moments when a young man said he wanted to become the President of Cameroon and another one said how much he loved his wife and basketball but could not decide which he loved more!!! Personally as a facilitator a very inspiring session.

I have applied Community life competence process in :

Self assessment and participatory monitoring
o Design Evaluation framework
oEngaging participants
oData collection
oData analysis
oUtilization of Evaluation findings

This was agenda of the session:

  1. Introductions
  2. Exercise- Exercise to bring out strengths and importance of appreciation 
  3. Powerpoint
  4. SALT visit to practice what we have learned
  5. After action review
  6. Strength-based approach in Evaluation

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Comment by Sanghamitra Dhar on March 19, 2013 at 8:47

Very Interesting! Would check out this SALT thg further :)

Comment by Rituu B Nanda on March 18, 2013 at 7:18

Here is an experience from Malcolm Odell on how he has used strength-based approach in M&E

Indeed, as indicated in the PPT, AI Evaluation is particularly powerful in conflict settings where there is all too much bad news to go around... 


This has been clearly evident in the AI Evaluation approach I used recently in Afghanistan in reviewing a problematic land reform initiative for urban resettlement areas in a troubled setting... The approach enabled us to find the best of what was being done and then present major, positive conclusions and recommendations on how a major transformation of the program would yield greatly improved results... No one offended.. but it really did seem to get the donor thinking about alternatives that would yield better results in an area where they are greatly needed. We're still awaiting comments from the donor on our report... so stay tuned...!


AI and our short, sweet, empowering APA adaptation, similarly has been extremely successful in other conflict settings including Sierra Leone and Southern Sudan... and, of course, as our Nepali colleagues know well, across Nepal during the height of the Maoist rebellion... with a clearly appreciative outcome to the people's movement to bring an end to the war, bring Maoists to the table to run for election, and the bloodless removal of the king and restoration of democracy... The job's not done yet, but this peaceful revolution continues -- with hardly any notice from the outside world... (Except, of course, by those looking for problems in the constitutional process that creeps ever so slowly forward..!!)

 What more good news is there to share about AI Evaluation?




 Malcolm J. Odell, Jr., MS, PhD

Training, Evaluation, Agriculture, and Sustainable Community Empowerment Specialist

Washington, DC

Comment by Rituu B Nanda on March 16, 2013 at 8:10

Hi Ranjani,

I have used it strength-based approach in Evaluation for instance in drafting evaluation questions, collecting data etc. What I found that people are more likely to share openly if the questions asked are appreciative for instance what works here and what we could have done better. Also in engaging primary stakeholders and forging ownership an appreciative approach can work very well- for eg what is your dream, where do you see your selves in terms of this project say till project end. When people compile a common vision they are more likely to own it. Also in utilization of evaluation findings and building evaluation capacity , strength based approach is a good way to go.

I also refer you to Mr Ojha's pioneer work in AI and evaluation. Read here at

Comment by Gana Pati Ojha on March 16, 2013 at 4:56

I am so glad to see that strength-based approaches are gaining momentum. Even the government institutions are trying to e-valuate their achievements through appreciative eyes. Congratulations Rituu !!!

Comment by Ranjani K.Murthy on March 15, 2013 at 13:35

Rituu, very interesting. I would be grateful if you could share how the strength based approach can be used in evaluations, in particular from a gender and equity lens. Thanks Ranjani 

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