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 UNIT 4: Session II: Community Resource Assessment: Initial Intervention


Unit 4, Session II, Community Resource Assessment, Initial Intervention introduces the skills and tools used to mobile community into action through dialogue and engaging learning activities about opportunities given knowledge about their resources, what they have.  It enables community facilitators, leaders and resource persons to identify opportunities and develop projects and programmes to convert these into meaningful social and economic outcomes.

The unit focuses on identifying skills required to:
1. bring people together and get them to talk - create and maintain dialogue and communication;

2. gather, process and present information;
3. identify, discuss and clarify issues;
4. manage and resolve conflicting opinions;
5. spot opportunities, evaluate alternatives, formulate results and arrive at consensus; and,
6. make informed decisions.

1. To introduce alternative approaches to assessing community resources/needs.
2. To introduce skills required to establish community data base.
3. To examine alternative modes, methods of presentation(communication) of information

Participatory Rural Appraisal Hand Book
Prepared Jointly by:
The National Environmental Secretariat, Government of Kenya, and,
The Center for International Development of the Environment of the World's Resources


1. Prepare a profile of your community with reference to Community Organisations, Natural Ecosystems, Human Resources, Man-made Resources, History, Culture and Heritage.

2. What would make anyone want to visit that community?

Consider the following in response to the question.

1. general description, nature of the subject

2. specific areas of interest

3. importance to the community

4. potential for improvement

5. potential for economic and social benefit.

 UNIT 4: Session II: Community Resource Assessment: Initial Intervention

Initial Contact:
"The community development process promotes thoughtful observation, reflection and action. It observes people and systems in all their functions allowing them to evolve in their own way".

Development is triggered in many ways:
1. Increasing unemployment, use of drugs by teen-agers or brain-drain may force community action to explore development options in order to alleviate these problems.

2. A community member may envision a way to mobilise community groups into action to take advantage of some opportunity in agriculture or tourism.

3. An outsider may suggest ways to attract funding for community-based projects from donor or government agencies.

4. A private investor may perceive an opportunity and seek to develop the entire community.

5. The construction of a massive bauxite plant might demand the development of a community for workers and their families.

6. Whatever the reason, the goal is the same, to improve the quality of live for its members, while increasing the knowledge base and securing the condition for future generations. How the story changes over time describes the nature of the development being undertaken.

The first step in initial intervention involves the following:

1. Selection of the core group of community leaders pulsars and animators to guide and foster the process.

2. Discussion of a vision of what the initial group needs to accomplish.

3. Establishment of a schedule of meetings to consider:

approach to the initial contact exercise
composition of the group for tours, meetings, visits etc.
activities to be undertaken
authorities to approach
contents of reports to prepare
assign responsibilities
prepare timetable and schedules of events

During this phase, the group is working as one team although individuals may be assigned tasks on behalf of the group. A part of the objective of the exercise is maintain the group as a whole team engaged in a common experience as the basis to commence a development process based on a common understanding of the goals and objectives.

The Community Team:
The composition of the team greatly influence the quality of the information gleaned, the discussions that follow and the eventual outcome. Leaders of existing community groups should be the first members of the community team. This group will the co-opt other members in accordance with their perceived ability to contribute know-how in a variety of areas. The objective of this group will be to: prepare a community profile; draft of a vision statement regarding the development of the community; and, a programme of how to move forward. The team should be headed by the local community leader, example, president of the local citizens association, who acts as a facilitator to convene meetings, rotate chairmanship, and co-opt new members as necessary.

It is essential to identify five-seven members from the community team who serve as the core-group, the driving force, to keep things moving. These should be selected based on their ability to energize the community, express ideas, share information and expand knowledge. They should be high respected members of the community. Outside community pulsars may be co-opt to guide and support the community executive team. There should be a balance between men and women, young and old, with a sufficient appreciation of arts, science, technology and social science and an understanding of the changes taking place in the world. The group becomes the community executive.

Role of the Community Executive:
The community executive should seek to understand different approaches to community development through research, inviting knowledgeable professionals to address the group, visiting one or two communities where development programmes have been undertaken and brain storming in order to define it own approach within the context of the given community.

The community executive will seek clarity of its own understanding of the process before attempting to share and sell the idea to other community leaders, community groups and ultimately community members.

"In the network system, leadership is perceived as a pulsar at each node of the network, a driving force emitting energy in the form of thinking, expressing visions, and stimulating thought; in effect, an active participant in the community dialogue - defined by contribution".

It must always be kept in mind that the approach provides an opportunity for everyone to be a part of the process. The strategy is towards for informed decision making. The nature of the process is openness in the quest for new learning experiences whatever the source.

While it is commonly accepted that communities should seek to achieve their own development expectation, they need assistance in strengthening their own capacity for fact finding, discussion and decision-making and to articulate its needs to outside sources.

The process uncovers the community wealth in terms of organisations at work, people: their talents and skills, ecosystems, infrastructure and history. It reviews the results of any previous attempts at projects or programmes of development, collects information about on-going activities noting those that have brought about good results and examines new proposals already being developed and processed.

The initial step establishes and documents the general nature of the community:
1. historical origins and development

2. main characteristic that identify makes the community unique: personalities, history, songs, dance, drama, architecture, or events.

3. major schools, churches, social and civic organisation;

4. community leadership and main personalities;

5. population size and analysis by: age group, economic situation, major areas of employment, types of dwelling, and number of households

6. physical geography and main natural areas and zones

7. infrastructure of roads, electricity and telephone.

8. major economic activities and plans for development

9. political history and influences

10. issues and challenges faced.

Initial information must be captured, at this stage, in a way that seems effortless, exciting and engaging. The phase is aimed at establishing common ground, encouraging people to gather and talk, and create a social atmosphere of openness and frankness. Demand to take notes and maintain minutes often presents an unnecessary source of distraction in the beginning. Rather, one or two reporters, should be appointed to record and tell the story, share it as a part of the development process, and the preparation of the final report.

The facilitator, originator, mover, will target existing leadership including teachers, priest, social, civic, business and sports leaders and political representations. The venue should change frequently, from school, to church, to individual homes, to shops, and later to two or three community tours. These events should be captured taking snapshots, video recordings and making notes of special moments, utterances, physical features, people or animals.


See examples of community profile listed below. Select one and develop a project as based on reference.

The following are the steps in preparing the community profile:

1. Locate and examine any available material, published or unpublished, being secondary data, from any previous effort to describe the community resource base, land use, problems , opportunities, past experiences. It provides basic understanding of the local conditions, major constraints, specific needs and range of possible options available. Sources includes national censuses, project documentation, maps, aerial photographs and satellite images.

2. Contact and request of official agencies: a) Statistical Unit of Government a demographic report on the community, b) Natural Resource Authority for report on ecosystems, and, c) Cultural and Heritage Institutes for related materials, d) Government Ministries and Agencies, d) International Agencies - UNDP, UNESCO, and, e) Universities, Colleges and Libraries.

3. Share vision and information with and attract support of leaders of a wide cross section of community groups and clubs: education, civic, social cultural and sports - formal and informal.

4. Meet with individual groups to share the vision, information and determine the nature of their contribution.

5. Undertake community tours to observe first hand and receive information about the community natural and human ecosystem, meet community members in their own situation and develop community cohesiveness.

6. Meet to discuss unfolding experiences, the impact on the process and the potential of each discovery.

7. Display pictures, artifacts and other findings for the benefit of the group and the community in general.

8. Keep the community informed through new letters and general community meetings.

9. Accumulate information for the final report: The Community Profile, Vision Statement, Display of Photographs and Artifacts.

10. Prepare schedules for the more detailed community resource assessment process.

The information gathered covers organisational arrangements and institutions; population and population changes; topography, drainage, vegetation and ecological zoning; production patterns: marketing, farms, agro resources and tourism; infrastructure, and culture, and, overall opportunities and needs.

The following community profile is of an inner-city community, New Haven - Riverside Gardens.

New Haven Riverside Gardens

Historical Origins:

New Haven Riverside Gardens, not unlike many local communities and communities of other developing countries, have been suffering for decades of traditional development policies being imposed on them. The experiences and analyses of community groups, workers and professionals from every sector have pointed to the damaging effect which those policies are having on the short and long-term prospects for human development.

The analyses are supported by findings of studies at the international level, including the United Nations Agencies. In the case of New Haven Riverside Gardens, this community has been effectively marginalised by the environmental degradation, loss of biodiversity and a severe erosion of the community resource and asset base.

Prior to 1972, New Haven Riverside Gardens was poised to become one of the best urban communities, enriched with natural and human resources with vast development potential. Although strategically located at the western gateway to the Kingston Metropolitan area, the community is virtually unknown, characterized by ghetto type housing, dirt roads, swamps, mosquitoes and a haven for criminals. The traditional development approach replaced the wealth of human, natural and cultural resources with man made assets that depreciate each day.

The failed development strategy reflects itself in problems of flooding, air and water pollution, exodus of home-owners, wide-scale neglect and abandonment of property by owners and the increasing influx of illegal occupants. The following are some of the physical problems to be addressed as a consequence:

1. A faulty culvert built to accommodate the flow of the Duhaney River under the Mandela Highway at the Six Mile over pass. The construction severely inhibited the flow of the river and reduced the effectiveness of the dredging operations.

2. Between 1974 and 1984 the Cooreville Housing Scheme was built and its drainage system linked to that of New Haven resulting in excess sewage pouring into the Duhaney River.

3. The creation of the Riverton City dump resulting in continuing fires producing clouds of smoke and polluting the atmosphere on a daily basis.

4. The destruction of the natural wetland to the west of the river by reclaiming land and dumping of garbage without installing proper drainage.

5. The illegal installation of squatters that bring insanitary practices near drains and river to worsen the situation.

6. The dumping of garbage in gullies by communities further upstream.

On June 18, 1974, the community of New Haven Riverside Gardens was declared a flood prone area under the Flood Water Control Act. In addition, by now the community had taken on the characteristics of low social and economic activity, high school drop out rate, high unemployment and ever increasing threat of crime and violence.

Amid the prevailing problems are long forgotten assets and opportunities. These pre-occupations dim our recognition of the natural beauty and wealth of our geography, the quality and potential of the human resources, and the legacy of our history, heritage and culture. It is on these assets that we wish to build the new New Haven Riverside Gardens. For example:

a) The Duhaney River and multiple mineral springs have therapeutic and recreational value.

b) In the foothills of the Molynes mountains lies a cave - a source of organic "rat-bat" manure (guano), potential for educational and informational attractions, adventure tours, history of the coup attempt and criminal activities - all resources for the creation of high-value-added products and services.

c) The bio-diversity of the area is the basis for research into the use of a variety of herbal plants and cultivation of traditional herbs and the creation of non-traditional products.

d) The numerous pools of salt ponds provide possibilities for fishery and aquaculture.

e) The human capital to be enhanced through education, training and the provision of access to information, new knowledge and new partnerships.

f) The opportunity to create, document and share (in real-time) a process of development that demonstrates the essence of sustainability - The Newhaven Experience.

The opportunity to be creative and innovative in the design and production of new products, services, and systems, especially those of the future - based on knowledge, information and deliverable through the knowledge system. These includes museums, learning and educational systems, entertainment programmes, maintenance and support services, health services and light manufacture.

UWI-U4S2-Community Resource Assessment: Initial Intervention