(Peace Corps, 1984, 175 p.)

Identifying community needs and resources[edit | edit source]


One of the most important and challenging aspects of community work is to learn about local problems and traditions before proceeding with a project. This session gives the participants an opportunity to visit a community and examine the potential for solar drying, as well as to practice methods for gathering and presenting information about the particular needs and resources that exist in relation to food preservation and storage.


To examine problems and needs in a local community that relate to food preservation and storage

To identify resources, traditions and practices related to food preservation and storage

To identify and analyze weather patterns, food availability and price fluctuations throughout the year in order to examine the potential for solar food drying in a community.

To practice methods of gathering, organizing and presenting information about a community

To work cooperatively in a group to complete a task


Bridging the Gap, p. 21 and pp. 34-35
Helping Health Workers Learn, Chapters 13 and 26
Improved Food Drying and Storage Manual, Session 3


Examining the Potential for Solar Drying in a Community, Handout 2B
Guidelines for a Community Assessment, Handout 3A


Newsprint, markers or other materials for making maps
Notebooks and pens


Gain permission for the participants to visit local communities or neighborhoods. Arrange for transportation,' if necessary.


  1. (10 minutes) Warm-up Activity and Introduction to the Session

Use the suggested activity or substitute one of your own: "I went to the village..." is a game that has many variations. It begins with one person saying, "I went to the village, and there I found " (filling in a traditional food, custom, or whatever category you have chosen). The next person repeats the item and adds another, until all have had a turn. This activity reinforces the value of tradition and helps share information about the participants' communities.

Review the objectives, and describe the activities for the session.

Explain that small groups of participants will visit local communities or neighborhoods in order to find out about needs, problems and resources relating to food preservation and storage. They will also look at the factors that will determine the feasibility of solar drying: weather patterns, food availability and price fluctuations during the year. (Refer to Handout 3A, Guidelines for Community Assessment.)

Distribute and review Handout 3A, and suggest that the participants also use the questions in Handout 2B "Examining the Potential for Solar Drying in a Community" during the activity.


It should be emphasized that a two or three-hour assessment can only give a preliminary idea of some needs and resources that exist in a community, and that the activity is not a method of diagnosing other people's problems. Its purpose is to give the participants practice in looking at the conditions, potential problems and resources that exist locally so that they can begin to analyze a community's potential for solar drying. The activity also gives the participants a chance to work in a team, and to develop skills in organizing and presenting information. If more time is needed for the community visit, preparation of reports or presentations, this session may be continued at a later time, perhaps during the second or third day of training.

  1. (approximately 2-3 hours, depending upon available time) Community Assessment Activity Have the participants form groups, visit the chosen sites and prepare their reports.
  2. (1 hour) Presentations

Have the groups present their reports, and discuss each presentation.

  1. (15 minutes) Summary

Guide a discussion to compare and contrast the findings of each group, focusing on the following questions:

  • Does it seem that solar drying is a potentially useful method of preserving food in this area of the country? Why or why not?
    - Was there interest in solar drying or improved storage methods on the part of the community members?
    - What were some surprising things that you learned during the activity?
    - Were any of your previous assumptions about the community true? False? Which ones?
    - How do you think we can promote solar drying and improved food storage methods locally (if there is interest and if it is appropriate) during this training course?
    - How does the community assessment activity relate to your work and your community?
    - Are the local communities or neighborhoods similar or different from your community? In what ways?
    - What are some problems encountered as you worked with your team? How did you deal with them?


If it is not possible to do a community visit, one option is to have the participants interview one another or other people at the training site concerning their communities, and base their reports on those findings. Another variation of the activity is to have the participants create a map of the community in which they work following the same guidelines as for the local community assessment. At the end of the presentations, post the maps that some groups have drawn for their presentation.

If only one community is available for visits, have the participants either look at different aspects of the assessment, or conduct the activity in a number of neighborhoods or outlying areas. It is interesting to compare and contrast the information found by different groups about the same location, by discussing the different perspectives and approaches that can result from such a visit.


To help discover the resources and problems that exist in a community, it is useful to combine a number of methods of gathering information. This may include interviews and observations through visits to stores, markets or homes.

Plan ahead of time HOW you will gather the information (so that each group member takes an active part in the assessment). Cooperate with the people you are working with, and divide the tasks.

Decide WHAT methods you will use to present the information you have gathered.

Remember that you are a guest in the community, and that it is important to be sensitive and respectful to the people who live there. Think what it would be like if you lived there.

FOCUS on what you want to accomplish.

Remember to report what you really found, not what you wish you'd found.

Treat the community visit as an adventure and a chance to get to know people you might not have otherwise met.


Traditional and current methods of food preservation and storage
Problems related to food preservation and storage
Availability and price fluctuations of several commonly used foods throughout the year
Weather patterns throughout the year
Problems in the community relating to nutrition and health
Resources in the community relating to food preservation and storage, health, education and community education


HOW you gathered the information
WHERE you went
WHAT recommendations you would make to improve current food preservation and storage methods and technologies
HOW you could improve upon the assessment


  1. A map of the community or neighborhood, showing some physical characteristics, problems, needs, resources - in relation to food preservation and storage.
  2. A short drama or role play explaining the problems, needs, resources, etc., relating to food preservation and storage.
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Authors Eric Blazek
License CC-BY-SA-3.0
Language English (en)
Related 0 subpages, 0 pages link here
Aliases Solar and Energy Conserving Food Technologies 5
Impact 304 page views
Created April 14, 2006 by Eric Blazek
Modified December 9, 2023 by Felipe Schenone
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