12 Steps to Holding Discussions in a Participatory Assessment

Charisma, Salvatore und ich
Creative Commons License photo credit: aj82

Social entrepreneurship involves working with communities in order to understand them so that common solutions can be found which are sustainable and feasible for the long term.

How to Hold Discussions in a Participatory Assessment

I present to you 12 steps that can help you hold constructive dialogue with communities as part of a participatory assessment:

  1. Start with introductions. Introduce the facilitators and state the purpose of the assessment.
  2. Explain why the participants’ involvement is important and explain what information you would want them to provide.
  3. Ask the participants’ permission and explain that the facilitation team will need to take notes to enable them to report what they have said accurately.
  4. Ask the participants to introduce themselves. Ask for their names and any other information that they are comfortable to provide.
  5. Establish ground rules for the session. Some of the ground rules could include respect for others’ views, only one person speaks at a time, and the right for everyone to speak without being interrrupted.
  6. Discussion with children will require patience and sensitivity to their needs
  7. Introduce the themes that you will be discussing with the group.
  8. Ensure that everyone has a chance to speak. Encourage participants to explain their points. Don’t rush them.
  9. Ask open-ended questions in order to clarify and check understanding. These include questions that begin with “How”, “What”, “Where”, “Why”. There’s no need to judege the particpants. Accept what they say and note it down.
  10. Guide the group to analyze the cause of the problems that they have identified, and skills they have to be able to address those problems, and identify what role their community can play in providing solutions.
  11. Allow the participants time to ask questions.
  12. Ask the participants which issues they consider as more pressing from the issues they have identified.

Be Flexible During a Participatory Assessment

These steps are only a guide, and you will need to be flexible as you conduct your discussions. I’ve recently been involved in a week long participatory assessment in Bangladesh. I can tell you that throughout the assessment, your discussion may be steered into a totally different direction that you may not have anticipated.

In the end, be open to the comments and opinions of the participants, and you’ll do just fine!