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The importance of needs assessment in community-based extension activities
Community based extension activities aim of helping the community by providing trainings-seminars, services and even financial aid. Various agencies and organizations involved themselves in the creation of programs for the community. All of the programs to be conducted hopes for the betterment of the community, but in the long rum, upon evaluation, the activities being conducted do not have an impact at all, thus making the endeavor more likely a failure. It could be a waste in money, effort and time. But, why these failures happen when the intention is actually good? Because some of those conducting the activities fail to do the very first step, and that is the needs assessment.
Needs assessment is the process in which the needs of the community is determined before an intervention is given. For an instance, for a community of fisherfolks, before an organization will create an activity, they will have a community visit first and then determine the pains of the community and there needs by conducting the needs assessment. So what are the ways on how needs assessment can be done?
1. Survey questionnaire. The organization will create a questionnaire in determining the needs of the community. The questionnaire could have close ended and open ended questions.
2. Observation. It could be done during the site visit. Some organizations have days of immersion to really observe what are the struggles and needs of the community. Some actually live like the locales to better understand their way of life.
3. Interview. The organization could select a respondent to have one-on-one interview, asking him/her about the needs of the community. But usually, one respondent would not be enough, especially if you have a big community.
4. Focus Group Discussion. This is another way of interviewing but there are more participants in here, FGD allows you to interview a group of individuals and make confirmation to others the statements made by some individuals.
After conducting those activities, one could know the specific needs of the community and not just offering them an intervention that doesn't match to their pains. This is actually applicable in real life, when you have a child and she is crying, you offer her some things to make her stop , you gave her candy or chocolate or foods, but still she won't stop, but when you ask her why, what she needs, she answers she just need a hug, then that's the time you give the hug and then she stop crying.
The things that I write here are based on my experience and understanding about needs assessment. I write about this, because in the academe that I am working with, we are to conduct different extension activities and the having the needs assessment is really emphasized. We usually do ICT literacy trainings to the community, one of the activities we have done is the Computer Literacy training for Barangay Secretaries. Before we gave the program, we gave them questionnaires for us to know their prior knowledge about computers and the same time their needs. The extension activity is not done only once, but continuous. Impact assessment will right then follow. Here's the part when we hear their success stories and how the intervention helped them. We are glad to hear that they have applied what they have learned in our trainings to their tasks in their assigned barangays.
This photo was taken in one of our trainings for Barangay Secretaries.
How about you? Have you done or participated in extension/outreach activities? What are your experiences? I would really love to know, so write a comment down below and let's talk about it.