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Community Faces Several Issues Including Infrastructure andResearch Paper

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¶ … community faces several issues including infrastructure and crime problems. The issues are more profound among the low income earning population of the community. The Riverbend City Project is quite innovative. It is a response to the desire of the community to have infrastructure that is in a better state; the community is very willing to make substantial contributions to the project by way of ensuring the maintenance of the facilities. Notable progress as far as community mobilization is concerned is the initiation of the Community Action Plan (CAP) (NWFP Community Infrastructure Project, n.d).

How successful community-based projects become is usually determined by the level of participation of the members of the community. The facilities that are utilized should reflect the needs of the community and their willingness to make financial contributions and maintain the facilities. Process Monitoring (PM) is a method of collecting relevant quantitative and qualitative data about the effectiveness of the projects as perceived by the participants. The participants are usually the members of the community and those who represent them -- a population whose views are usually not considered by project managers. PM is crucial in ensuring that the gap between the perspective of management and the reality in the field is bridged (NWFP Community Infrastructure Project, n.d).

In undertaking the needs assessment, the Needs Assessment Committee (NAC) can take certain steps to evaluate the resources that will be needed by the project. First, they need to collect information concerning what shall actually be needed and gather information from the experts who will oversee the project. A discussion on the tools and technology that will be made use of should also be held (CIO, 2011).

It is crucial that the opinions of the people on the ground that shall benefit from, and be involved in the project be sought. Secondly, they should identify which problems are to be solved, putting in place plans to solve the problems. Problems should also be prioritized. Third, solutions that will be applied to problems that may arise in the course of the project should also be outlined. Risk assessments will bring to light any possible costs that may be incurred in solving these problems. The fourth thing to do is reach a consensus with all the key players such as the administration. All facets of the project including financial considerations should be brought to their knowledge (CIO, 2011).

In following the steps given above, the Needs Assessment Committee shall comprehend the way needs assessment ought to be done; this committee should identify the major issues that should be addressed in the course of the project. A process of collection of information, identification of issues, and informing major players concerning needs of the project should lead to the project being undertaken as smoothly as possible. This is the beauty of carrying out a needs assessment (CIO, 2011).

Doing an assessment of the strengths and weaknesses of the Riverbend City community is a crucial initial step in the planning of the project if it is to be effective. Knowledge of the community will ensure that no duplication of assets that already exist in the community are proposed. Such an assessment can be carried out by way of telephone, surveys, interviews, and by consulting with consultants. Informally, they can just chat with the community members, read the papers circulated in the community, or attend community meetings and ask the attendees. Using both informal and formal means will ensure that information is gathered in a cost-effective manner. There is a plus too in doing this, as the goodwill of the community can also be earned during the process. The process should however be systematized to ensure effectiveness and productivity (Rotary International, n.d).

Assessment Purpose and Stakeholders

Assessments help the people carrying out the project understand the way the community is structured. This helps them understand the various factors at play as well, and assists them to make informed decisions that will ensure the success of the project. Before the beginning of an assessment, there is a need to clarify the goals of the assessment. If an assessment is to be effective, several groups of people need to be brought on board. Such groups include the community youth, women groups, ethnic and religious groups, and the elderly. Obtaining opinions from everyone that is likely to be affected by the project is a good way of getting the wider perspective on the project. This information may lead to discovering issues that you may otherwise not uncover yourself (Rotary International, n.d). The NAC failed in this area as its focus was just the popular members of the community,

Community asset mapping is one well-known method of doing community assessments as its focus is assisting communities to spot and strengthen their strengths, capabilities and resources (Minkler & Hancock, 2008). The identification of community assets involves a number of processes that require the participation of the members of the community with help from outside expertise.

Characteristics of the approach are promotion of community development, a focus on human assets and capabilities, appreciation of the significant assets of building relationships and networks, leadership engagement promotion, adoption of an approach that encourages participation, and the creation of fresh theoretical understandings. Writings on the subject of community assessment stress the significance of an approach that encourages participation and that brings all the players together (Lazarus et. al, 2014; Nation e.al, 2011; Kramer, Amos, Lazarus & Seedat, 2012).

Issues Identified

By way of observation, a number of significant issues were identified. Some of them are:

Lack of Representativeness

The needs of the community were identified and questionnaires given to the heads of the households -- mostly male. The process ended up not including women, although they accounted for almost half of those who would benefit from the project. The women felt that they had been excluded in the making of decisions concerning design, location, operation, and the type of infrastructure to be put up. The representatives that were responsible for the collection of information were also not 'democratically' chosen as they had been appointed directly by people of influence called the 'contact group'. The preparation accorded to them to carry out the data collection wasn't adequate, and they lacked motivation to commit the required time in mobilizing the community (NWFP Community Infrastructure Project, n.d).

Information Overload

At the onset, the process of collecting data was quite involving and time consuming. It involved the use of community members that had been poorly trained, and who were not willing to labor. It was discovered that the social organizers of the project were swamped with data collection and processing tasks. These tasks took more than 75% of the time available, and as a consequence, little time was left to do the real work. The collection of data was done by using structured interviews (NWFP Community Infrastructure Project, n.d; Craddock, 2013).

The data was not only dominated by male responses, but also a significant portion of it was processed up to 3 times: at the household, block, and project office levels. This level of work took most of the time of the social organizer. I suggest that data collection as well as data processing be rationalized by using computerized MIS in the storage and retrieval of the data. Furthermore, it was discovered that a majority of the collected information wasn't necessary at the particular project stage. This will result in time being freed up to do more valuable things like the mobilization of the community. So, the process of consultation that was unrepresentative was also performed by misallocated or overworked staff, or incompetent members of the community. This led to a demotivated and frustrated community and staff. This must have led to absence of ownership in the later stages due to the preferences of the community and the organizers not matching (NWFP Community Infrastructure Project, n.d; Craddock, 2013).

Lack of Coordination between Social and Technical Process

I also discovered that the team of technical surveyors began working after the community assessment project's official signing by the Project and the community. Technical survey may take a lot of time, and the staff and the community wasn't adequately involved. I realized that the efficiency of the project could be made much better by improving coordination between the Community Self-Survey (CSS) and the technical survey, and also with the community assessment project (CAP) process. Information that is generated by the CAP and the CSS could be availed to the technical survey team that could then begin working before the CAP was signed. Also, the information the technical survey generates could be made use of in CAP preparation. Thus, the processes could be of benefit to one another (NWFP Community Infrastructure Project, n.d).

Convincing Project Management

This was indeed the hardest thing to do. At the start, the project management wasn't familiar with either methods that encourage participation or the role of process monitoring in the improvement of the effectiveness of the project. Ultimately, though, project management accepted a number… [END OF PREVIEW]

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