What is Participatory Assessment?

y2.d7 | that edit girl
Creative Commons License photo credit: B Rosen

In order to change the world and make a difference, you need to understand the current situation.

Understanding Problems to Find Solutions

I’m a firm believer that you should focus 20% of your time and energy analyzing the problems. Then after that, you should spend 80% of your time and energy focusing on the solutions.

A precondition to finding a solution is to first understand the problem.

That’s where conducting a situation analysis is valuable. A situation analysis can comprise a number of tools and techniques to comprehend the current problems. One kind of tool within a situation analysis is the participatory assessment.

4 Factors of a Participatory Assessment

Participatory assessment is a means of building partnerships with people from certain communities of all ages and backgrounds. The partnership is fostered through structured discussions and dialogue.

Participatory assessments may include holding separate discussions with women, girls, boys and men, in order to:

  1. gather accurate information on the specific problems that they face,
  2. get information about the underlying causes of those problems,
  3. understand the capacities of various persons within the community,
  4. hear their proposed solutions to their problems.

A Major Benefit of Participatory Assessment

In my point of view, one of the most beneficial aspects of participatory assessments is the fact that it helps mobilize communities to take collective action to improve their own quality of life. Participatory assessments also form the basis for the implementation of a rights and community-based approach.

My Experience with Participatory Assessment

Over the past few days, I’ve actually been involved as a facilitator in a week long participatory assessment with Myanmar refugees in Bangladesh. I must admit that it is quite thorough, and we’re having to discuss with community leaders as well as various segments of the community such as the women, men, adolescents and children.

Final Note on Participatory Assessments

I will admit that running a participatory assessment is not easy. It is certainly challenging. Nevertheless, I agree that it is highly important because as a social entrepreneur, you don’t want to dictate solutions to communities.

Rather, you will want to discuss with communities in order to find a sustainable and feasible solution.