Assessing the Community Needs, Empowering the Community
Pyae Pyae Phyo
Everyone has needs and wants. ‘Needs’ represents the basic necessities while ‘wants’ indicates desires. For the social development, it is really necessary to distinguish between wants and needs within our human society – assessing actual necessities.
A needs assessment is a systematic approach to studying the state of knowledge, ability, interest, or attitude of a defined audience or group involving a particular subject. Needs assessments are conducted to learn about important issues and public problems in order to design effective development programs.
A community needs assessment identifies the strengths and resources available within the community to meet the needs of community members, according to the Child Welfare Information Gateway. The assessment focuses on the capabilities of the community and provides a framework for developing and identifying services and solutions and building communities. The focus group participants indicate on their needs assessments how important or unimportant, generated issues are.
Before developing a new CSR program, M&AOSB always researches the gaps between the host community and the organization by conducting a community needs assessment. We believe appropriate needs assessment is crucial to implementing effective and sustainable community development projects – it is one of the main steps in CSR program planning. Our attempts also include researching the community’s resources, engaging with community members, and developing new community partnerships.
While trying our best to be a good neighbor for our host community, improving mutual understanding by listening to community voices, the assessment plays a critical role in guiding decision making and priority-setting for our CSR program with the involvement of the local community members in the process.
At M&AOSB, we work with our key stakeholders in the community to ensure responsible and sustainable business practices that encourage partnerships to address challenges together. We annually conduct a community needs assessment survey with local members in Nanttharpu Village Tract, Kyway Chaing Village Tract and Nga Yoke Kaung Town for improving current performance and preparing CSR work programs for the upcoming fiscal year. Last December, a series of needs assessment meetings were conducted with the following key objectives:
- Identify the real needs of the community regarding with the public infrastructure, capacity of the development committee, and vocational trainings for the community.
- Understand the concept and long-term sustainability for the community.
- Understand the ownership of development activities for the community.
M&AOSB CSR team developed Needs Assessment Forms to implement initial assessment with the community. The assessments were led and facilitated by community leaders with support from M&AOSB CSR field staff and community-based volunteers, since community members were not familiar with those activities before. The priority needs have been coming out after discussing within the community.
Final assessments were carried out with the participation of village authorities, elders, members and community-based volunteers to identify needs as well as community concerns, and set priorities for future action. The assessments identified the needs of public infrastructure, capacity building training for the village development committee and vocational trainings for the community. The discussions also allowed us to strengthen the sustainability of the stakeholder partnership and to develop our community investment initiatives. This bottom-up approach will continuously empower the community to participate and to have a say in the sustainable development process.