Participatory Needs Assessment - Nutrition and Food Security - Main Users / Purpose

  • Development field staff with knowledge in nutrition and public health.
  • Social mobilisers or change agents working with and/or living in the community.
  • Line Department Representatives (i.e. health agents, extension officers, etc.) and representatives of the people’s organisation.

Participatory Assessment Methods for the improvement of nutrition are applied to identify the nutritional problems from the point of view of the community, in order to design adequate interventions.

The purpose of the Participatory Needs Assessment is that the community, the development staff and the donor institution:

Understand the food and nutrition situation of the community,
Be aware of the existing constraints to adequate nutrition,
Decide which problems should be given priority, and
Identify resources available for undertaking activities to overcome malnutrition, health problems and inadequate nutrition related behaviour.

Nutrition is a good starting point for promoting people’s participation and raising awareness of the multiples causes of malnutrition or the food and nutrition constraints facing the community.

In many cases, people within the community, especially women, are left out of problem identification, designing community projects or other development activities. However in nutrition related activities, women play a major role in production, processing, preparation and distribution of food.

Participatory assessment approaches in the community can therefore strengthen women’s role and participation in overall community processes.

Due to the multi-sectoral character of food and nutrition issues, participatory assessment methods promote a general collaboration of local institutions. No single organisation can solve the nutritional problem alone. Solutions require institutional networking partners and cooperation.