Community participation and needs assessment

Community participation is understood as a collective awareness of thewhole community, factors that hinder growth through critical reflection and promotion of associative and organizational forms that facilitate the common good; that is, it is intended link the community for:

Research of their own problems, needs and resources.

Formulation of projects and activities.

Implementation of joint projects between communities and institutions.

Evaluation of the activities performed in each project.

Sometimes with our participation at the local level in our municipality, citizens can express our problems and we can participate in local decisions that affect us.

Participation has different aspects , on the one hand participation in the community, this is what we call community participation, through it our community is organized against adversity, or simply with the aim of achieving greater welfare ensuring development community.

But there is another type of participation, citizen participation through which a closer relationship between the community and authorities established ie it is a form of collaboration to achieve a hearing and make such that our municipality takes over the construction of a small bridge, or a soup kitchen.

One way to participate is to identify problems and needs, to achieve their integration in the definition of policies, programs or development projects.

The importance of citizen participation lies among other things:

Citizens can make to the authority of our needs, demands or suggestions.

Citizens can participate from the process of identifying needs, project formulation, implementation, evaluation and monitoring contributing according to our possibilities.

With the participation of the population in the local development process, responsibility and care of the work is guaranteed, the community is responsible, monitors their own development. a new attitude of the villagers to the local authorities so originates, not expect them to attend all their problems, if not resolve the population that are within their means, and trying to ensure the general welfare.

Why citizen participation is necessary?

Through citizen participation, in an orderly and organized manner, you can start climbing the first step to development of the municipality and therefore our own development.

Organized way communities can take part in decision making, prioritizing actions based on their needs and available resources in coordination with local authorities.

With citizen participation is involving the most disadvantaged social subjects in defining strategies and profit sharing.

Involving people can collaborate in improving care and public services in their community.

Requirements for public participation

The main requirement is the organization of the community to work together and to work with other organizations whether the municipality or other organization as an international body.

There are other requirements that are necessary to involve, among others are:

They must assume responsibilities and obligations.

Channels must be kept fluid communication with the authorities and the general population .


The diagnosis of community needs


Knowing our own situation is not a matter of mere information or curiosity.This is progress in awareness about the issues and elements that are obstacle for individual or group development and is doing so through a collective learning, based on the exchange of experiences and the recovery of historical memory, ie the memory of the community. The diagnosis has a high educational value to the extent that we all learn   from each and enrich us with the experience and knowledge of all.

To understand that is a diagnosis, just give the meaning of this word for medicine, so we will understand better. Making a diagnosis in medicine means finding out the state of health of a person and in the case of illness, determine the why and the most urgent needs for healing. If this definition is moved to the reality of our community, make a diagnosis will determine the status of our community, identify the problems faced and find a solution to the problems of most importance.

Through participatory diagnosis people same analyzes, he draws conclusions, at all times exercised their power of decision, is aware of what others are doing, offers his effort and experience to carry out a work in common. The point of all this is to incorporate as many people, for it can follow two paths:

The organization commissions a group of people who make a diagnosis and the rest is agreed to offer their support.

All members of the organization directly involved in the diagnosis.

Participatory assessment constitutes a rich learning process and a dynamic educational guidance, to make knowledge accessible to people and ask everyone to offer their support and experience.

We always tend to relate education to school, but there is another very valid school: the life of the members of a community. No one is totally ignorant, there are always useful knowledge and experience to address and resolve situations.

When such knowledge and experiences are shared through group reflections, through discussions, conversations, everyone learns from others; the wealth that a being has achieved throughout his life, as namely in terms of experience, does not remain locked in the walls of his house.

Participatory assessment is a good way to end the lack of communication, experience and knowledge among members of a community. In conclusion we can define the diagnosis and the procedure by which the nature and extent of the needs or problems set that affect our community.

With the diagnosis a hierarchy is established, ie in order of importance the needs or problems in terms of the benefits to provide, the greater the advantages and affect a greater number of people more priority we give to that problem-need.

The diagnosis must include the resources available to the community, people who can work, money that can muster to go about solving the problem or determine which national or international body can help us solve our problem, to ask for help.

What profit has a diagnosis?

Identifies the historical development of the community.

Possible to identify the most important problems and needs and act with full knowledge of that reality.

It helps to motivate the community to identify their reality and gain levels of awareness of their transformative role.

It is in a process of collective learning from knowledge dialogue.

It promotes levels   of communication and community involvement.

Allows decentralize power and empower   the community.

It generates autonomy to improve social conditions.

It helps unite the community to act   collectively.

Steps we must take to make the diagnosis:

Identification of the problem or issue:

a.)       Consider all that is the problem?

b.) It       is problem for all?

c.)       is a priority issue?

Context analysis of the problem or issue:

a.)       How do you explain the population the problem?

b.)       How it is explained from the point of view of the social situation that the community lives?

Prioritization (importance) of problems or issues:

Is the population that determines that this and no other, will diagnose the problem.

The information we have:

Information may be sufficient, but we have to prove. Otherwise he will leave, no matter how small the problem, a passive partial diagnosis yet.

Information we need:

This point can take precedence over the above. It is possible to first assess all the information we need and then specify whether or not she is in the community.

Anticipating the future using the information collected:

a.)       clarify where we want to go.

b.)       Determine the time you want to achieve that objective.

. c)       Determine the resources are in place to achieve this goal: time people, relationships with institutions, etc.

d.) To       determine the next steps, the time and resources required for each.

e.)       Anticipate correction mechanisms actions on the fly, in case problems arise.

Planning steps for addressing the problem or issue: Plan means a plan, from all of the above: time, resources and activities. Here responsibilities are distributed according to capacity and time availability. tasks are assigned and not everyone can do everything.


Adaptation of the text prepared by Francisco Javier López Alonso, grab the pdf version here hush hush.


©2003 First Suburbs Development Council