Involving local communities and beneficiaries in the assessment process

To adequately reflect local needs, communities should be leading the assessment of economic opportunities and training needs. Participation of local stakeholders is critical for the following processes
  1. Data collection and analysis on local economic and labour markets
  2. Participatory identifications of economic opportunities
  3. Feasibility studies validation
  4. Training needs analysis and planning
It is crucial to consider which stakeholders, community groups, including the most vulnerable ones, and individuals should be involved in each part and how to make that possible. Those who should be involved include consumers, local producers, wholesalers, retailers, potential buyers, businesses and business associations, traders, partner associations and cooperatives.

There are a number of tools and resources provided for each step. These might need to be translated to local languages, simplified, or significantly adapted to ensure they can be used and understood by stakeholders.

Community members may be cautious about participating in mixed group discussions – you may find it helpful to form smaller sub-groups to work on specific points (such as conducting interviews on consumer demand) within groups. For example, women may be more open to voicing their ideas in all-female groups or when speaking with a female interviewer. Members of minority groups may feel more confident speaking in their own language or with people from their group. Persons with disabilities may wish to discuss issues and concerns specific to them in a welcoming environment.

While initial discussions and data collection may be done in smaller groups, each stage should conclude with a broader discussion and endorsement of the intended approach. In conflict-affected or fragile contexts, it is important to be aware of and manage any conflicts between social groups. Building confidence within smaller groups and ensuring that all voices are heard, and respectful dialogue is maintained in larger settings is an important aspect of TREE’s community-based approach.

The role of the local advisory committee is critical for this development process. This committee should include representation from all key stakeholders and have good mechanisms for ensuring that each member reflects the views of those they represent and that they communicate the decisions and advice of the committee back to them. The local advisory committee may also hold public information sessions or release communications to advise the community as a whole of the progress of the TREE development. The aim is to have the program develop with the full knowledge and participation of the community.

Detailed information and guidance on ensuring participation by women and by persons with disabilities are available in:Doc 2.3 Including people with disabilities Doc 3.11 The development of a gender module under the CBT project in Bangladesh