Defining local needs: a community-based diagnostic survey in Ethiopia

Oxfam in Ethiopia has long been concerned that community-based development programmes should reflect local felt needs and priorities. Particularly where there has been a long history of engagement in a given area, a diagnostic survey has proved to be a valuable and flexible self-monitoring tool to re-assess development objectives with community groups. A diagnostic survey uses rapid rural appraisal techniques in a series of dialogues and interactions. The intention of the survey described in the paper was to determine whether the development programmes of Dubbo Catholic Mission (mother and child health services and water supply) were appropriate development activities for communities which had not previously been involved. The paper notes the constraints on agricultural production, as identified by groups of men and women, problems associated with health, and mother and child health care. Problems were ranked and collated from two peasant associations. The priority needs were: clean water, a health clinic, and fertilizers. In response to this, the Dubbo Catholic Mission was able to implement projects to address some of these problems. This article also appears in the Development in Practice Reader Development and Social Diversity. Abstract supplied by kind permission of CABI.