COMMUNITY ASSESSMENTS WILL BE REQUIRED FOR
ALL GLOBAL GRANT APPLICATIONS STARTING 1 JULY.
Villagers in Mbayi, Zambia,
now enjoy readily accessible clean drinking water
without having to walk long distances. This
global grant project, impacting some 5,000 lives,
wouldn’t have happened without a critical first
step: a community assessment.
“They had to tell us what they needed and how
it will best serve their community,” says Javed
Umar Khitab of the Rotary Club of Mississauga-Streetsville, Ontario, Canada, whose district, 7080
(Ontario, Canada), partnered with local clubs in
District 9210 for the effort.
For years, Rotary clubs and districts have used
community assessments to design strategic,
sustainable humanitarian projects. In recognition
of the effectiveness of this practice, all global
grant applications will require a community
assessment beginning 1 July.
Assessments help Rotarians identify the priorities,
assets, and goals of the communities they wish to
serve. Done during the early planning stages of a
project, assessments take the form of any type of
meeting with the community. They may consist
of idea-generating sessions, group discussions,
individual meetings with community leaders, or
even having beneficiaries complete a survey.
Empowering residents to make decisions that
shape their communities ensures commitment
from the beneficiary community, which ultimately
owns the project. This commitment creates
sustainability. In Mbayi, Khitab explains, residents
formed a water committee to collect nominal
fees for well upkeep and maintenance. They also
trained volunteer mechanics. “They wanted it,
and they figured out how they would keep it
running,” says Khitab.
A thorough assessment can give Rotary a better
return on its investment by sharpening a project’s
focus and using the Foundation’s precious
resources more efficiently, says District Governor
Julio Grazioso. His district, 4250, partnered with
District 5450 (Colorado, USA) on a global grant
literacy project that helped students in 47 schools
“Our programs require medium- to long-term
commitments from the school administrators,
teachers, students, and parents to be sustainable,
so we are always looking for both need and
real interest, leadership, and commitment from
them,” says Grazioso.
Revisiting the data
Revisiting data gathered by the community
assessment throughout the project is important,
too, says Bob Rose of the Rotary Club of
Evergreen, Colorado, USA. His club partnered
with Districts 4250 and 5370 in their ongoing
global grant projects to improve water safety,
sanitation, and hygiene in the island community
of Saint Helene, Honduras.
“Without the initial needs assessment sessions,
Rotary would have been flying blind,” says Rose.
“Ongoing meetings and community development
sessions since that time have fleshed out the
community’s strengths, assets, resources, needs,
and weaknesses in more detail.”
Khitab’s advice to Rotary leaders wanting more
sustainable projects is simple: Ask the community
what they need first rather than telling them
what you think they need.
Visit the Rotary Grant Center
Islanders in Saint Helene, Honduras, document their community’s
priorities and goals during an assessment session with Rotarians.