Dear All,

Last week, I was deeply privileged to be invited to this blog by Mine, and sure enough my expectations were way below what I read on the blog! I shared with Mine my first impressions soon after skimming through the rich experineces shared on this forum, and particularly had my attention caught by the metaphor of “craftsmanship” / “craftswomenship”.

I was lately reflecting over the metaphor of craftsmanship / craftswomanship, and for me, this brought memories of past times when we (in one of the projects using PRA techniques) were driven by techniques rather than the development issues / questions. Naively, we churned up maps, chapati diagrams, timelines and all tribes of matrices, certainly exciting and drawing mamoth crowds of communities, but certainly – at the best simply skirting around the real development issues! Thankfully, the project registered some unintended positive gains, but could have perfomed better on the scale of her objectives.

The talk about craftsmanship also reminds me of glaring mismatches / disparities in some of the publications we have; often times, data on a particular parameter, sometimes from the same source and for the same period has outright differences…4 years ago, I juxtaposed data on adult literacy in Uganda, compiled into a leaflet (developed with reference made to “How to lie with statistics”  – click on illustration for full view)

 

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I was baffled by these “contradictions”, and loudly posed questions about the perplection: could it be that we view the same parameter from very different planes, and hence our definition / description of the same parameter is extremely different? Is it that we are using very different sampling frames, different sample questions, generalising very different sample answers, or could the “problem” be emanating from using different statistical tools (eg median, mode, mean for average)? The latter could be partly true, graduating some of our calculations to “manipulations” to suit a particular audience for a specific request (politically, state very high literacy rates registered, but to potential funders, state much lower figures etc).

My contention will always be that as the craftsmen and craftswomen get more exposed to, and equipped with the necessary tools, that we still have the development question as our guide (to determine what combination of tools to use, and not vice versa) and that we do not use the tools for (wo)manipulating the audience… just thoughts stemming from the crafting metaphor (apologies for this digression from your focussed discussions)

On another note, I would like to believe you are already in the know about the forthcoming European Evaluation Society Conference in Lisbon – late September to early October 2008. Is there anyone on this blog planning to participate? I think it would be of interest as impact evaluation will be given thrust – with active participation of NONIE, DFID and probably 3IE… Just in case you need more information about the same (if it is not too late), I will be happy to send / share more.

Once agian, I an honoured to be a part of the “family” of this blog, and as earlier mentioned to Mine, would be certainly one on the learning curve, always gleaning a learning from the rich experiences that you all have.

Great many thanks and kind regards

 Simon Kisira

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