Needs Assessment Procedure
The needs assessment of a community is aimed at identifying assets and possible risks that it faces. In developing countries the steps used are similar. An example is in Liberia, where the waste management needs assessment done in 2007 entailed planning and organization, procedure of needs assessment, collection of data, summarization and distribution of data, and final report writing (Aparna-Sharma et al., 2000). In the planning and organization stage, partners who will get involved in the needs assessment would be identified. For instance, the partners identified in Liberia are government departments, municipal administrators, civil society, and international community. The final step in planning and organization entails identification of goals and objectives like in the case of Liberia which was in reviewing the solid waste management sector of Liberia.
The second stage would involve the assessment procedure that would help identify requirements of data collection. The procedures involved using the Liberia case study were getting ready, and developing and creating a needs assessment survey through using focus groups (Aparna-Sharma et al., 2000). The third stage is in collecting data about the community. In our case, the population is from a developing community; therefore, the best method would be door-to-door data collection as was done in Liberia. Other methods of data collection in developing communities are: community representation, and using flyers to advertise the program.
The fourth step is data summarization and distribution. In summarization software such as SPSS and ACCESS can be used to identify most hazardous wastes, common solid wastes, and common waste disposal system in the community. Distribution of data is done through public forums to make sure that every stakeholder in the community is aware of results and their accompanying recommendations. The final stage five is about report writing, whose aim is to provide physical proof of the needs assessment carried out and act as a reference in the future (Aparna-Sharma et al., 2000).
Community Involvement in Needs Assessment
According to Aparna-Sharma et al., (2000), community involvement is beneficial in needs assessment because of: improved flow of information, better understanding of local government, enhanced collaboration, minimal conflicts, enhanced environmental justice, and facilitates advocacy in the community. Citing the Liberian case example, the stakeholders in a community can be encouraged to identify their purpose of their participation. For instance, the local government in Liberia had the sole objective of solving the problem of solid waste disposal while UNEP was for recognition purposes.
Materials in data collection can be customized to accommodate the culture of the locals. Culture insensitivity during data collection leads to bias in results, poor data summarization and distribution, and wrong recommendations (UNEP, 2007). In the Liberia case, awareness forums and programs were designed to be in the late afternoons because early in the morning most of the population was in farms, or very busy. Furthermore, a facilitator who is knowledgeable and skilled can be employed to provide cultural exchanges between assessment implementers and the local community during forums and campaigns (UNEP, 2007). Liberia has a large population that is illiterate and only speak native language. These stakeholders would feel left out if a facilitator is not around to provide them with explanations of the program.
Lastly, an important strategy that can also be used to enhance community involvement is developing social and cultural networks such as churches, schools, and civic organizations (UNEP, 2007). The structures are aimed at enhancing knowledge of the community on the program to be assessed and implemented. In Liberia, the UN set up a course of Waste Management at the University of Liberia that is aimed at serving as an awareness campaign and educator on management of Solid Waste in the country.
Aparna-Sharma, B.S., Lanum, M.B.S., Yolanda, S.B. (September, 2000). A Community Needs Assessment Guide: A brief guide on how to conduct an assessment guide. Chicago: Loyola University. Pp. 1-18
UNEP. (July, 2007). Assessment of Solid Waste Management in Liberia. Monrovia: EPA Liberia. Available at: