I was privileged to be in a panel with Donna Mertens, Doug Reeler, Yves Altazin   and Claudine Morierat  at F3 E conference held on 16th and 17th October in Paris. For last 25 years, F3E has been coordinating a network of 85 organisations – French NGOs and public authorities. The focus has been on strengthening evaluation, research and other capacities of member organisations.  I am not a French speaker so the event gave me a peek into the world of Francophone evaluators and development practitioners. I came back enriched with knowledge but it was far beyond this. I felt energised and rejuvenated listening to the work this network is doing...very relevant to today’s world.


Change is not linear...so how can evaluation respond to this challenge? Nele Blommestein’s presentation during the conference  about Rachel Kleinfeld’s work  from whom I have borrowed the title of the blog. The main take away from the conference comes from this title. Throughout the conference, speakers and participants discussed the challenge of effectively measuring programmes and policies as we operate in complex and dynamic environments. Measuring is tough because it’s political, chaotic and messy. Kleinfeld (2015) observes, "...development projects require engaging in the realms of policy, power, and politics. And, whether you are funding change, fomenting it, or opposing it, the nonlinear nature of this kind of reform can make it very hard to know whether you are on the right track, and how to measure whether you are achieving your goals.”

Jan Van Ongevalle, a speaker from Belgium, noted that we need to make more room for qualitative methodologies and not focus just on numbers. He added that when end and results are unpredictable, we need to adapt. One approach will not work. He noted:

  1. Four dimensions to measure complexities 
  2. Build relations with all actors you are involved if you want to work on sustainable change
  3. System has to be learning about expected and unexpected change- 
  4. Accountable to donors, horizontal and also to communities
  5. Need to have adaptive capacity

Donna Mertens, Professor Emeritus Gallaudet University, Independent Consultant from USA is deeply rooted in transformative change as she has taught in a university for deaf for several decades.  She stressed on lens of intersectionality in evaluation by incorporating social, economic, and environmental justice. Cultural responsiveness, contextual analysis and mixed methods are key ingredients of transformative evaluation.

Yves Altazin, Director of Frères des hommes, Board member, F3E stressed that evaluative and reflexive tools as accelerators of change. He shared experience of experimenting with outcome mapping and Change oriented approaches. On similar lines, Nele from Netherlands spoke about combining Outcome harvesting with traditional evaluation methodologies

Doug Reeler, Social Facilitator, Community Development Resources Association (South Africa) urged for doing M&E differently - key learning practices to empower communities and foster social change and being more reflective.

My presentation was on gender transformative evaluation- definition and importance. I reflected on the degree and range of participation and not blindly use the term participation. I feel that ‘no one left behind’ will remain a slogan unless communities are seen as actors of evaluation and develop evaluative thinking and critical mindset. I shared an example of using Constellation’s community life competence process for engaging communities in self assessment and how it was a gender transformative process.  Read my blog https://gendereval.ning.com/profiles/blogs/ownership-of-evaluation-...

On similar lines, in another presentation need was stressed to involve citizens in evaluation. In the current digital age when we are moving towards open, real time data, Citizens and communities have a  key role in generating data and using existing data to guide their actions on existing challenges like climate change, growing fundamentalism creating exclusion and conflict etc. I made a presentation in Netherlands for WWF on community science https://gendereval.ning.com/profiles/blogs/communities-are-not-just...

What is heartening is that F3E's work is around gender transformative evaluation and they have been inter-weaving what they call change-oriented approaches like most significant Change, outcome harvesting etc with other M&E tools.  F3E seems to be having a considerable influence as its members partner with organizations from other continents. At the same time, F3E has been able to get other key players like policymakers on board.

F3E is a network which is nurturing coalitions that inform the field of transformative evaluation. Follow F3E closely as it has much to offer to evaluation professionals around the globe. Armelle Barré from F3E even did a live gender review of the event!!





Cherry on the cake

We squeezed in an informal meet up of EvalGender+ on 17th Oct. Ian Davies kindly organised the meet up.


Kleinfeld, R. (n.d.). Improving Development Aid Design and Evaluation: Plan for Sailboats, Not Trains. Retrieved from https://carnegieendowment.org/2015/03/02/improving-development-aid-....

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Comment by Aurelie Viard Cretat on October 30, 2019 at 11:56

Thanks Rituu for this nice sum up of the event. It was very inspiring to me to meet so many experienced practitioners from different background, and share this lovely dinner with all of you. 

I was really interested about the Constellation approach you mentioned during your presentation, and will definitely dig a bit more on the subject! Indeed, we always talk about further involving the communities, but making them primary stakeholders and actors of the evaluation process is an on-going challenge that we all need to work on. Especially because we often work with strict ToRs that do not leave so much time nor space for creative approached. One thing - out of the many - I keep with me from all the discussions we had and the presentations I attended was the need for us, evaluators, to advocate to financial and technical partners so that they dedicate sufficient funds for evaluations, that will allow us to have enough time for developing and implementing creative and really participatory methodologies. And advocate towards NGOs so that they really involve all stakeholders in the drafting of the ToRs. 

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