Identifying and obtaining resources
In the first chapter we discussed the important effect that the
presence or absence of resources can have on behavior. This section looks at
ways of finding the resources necessary to promote health, and conduct health
Resources inside the community
Be aware of the resources within your own community that can be
used in solving the problems of individuals, of groups, or of the whole village.
Here are some examples of the many kinds of resources you will
- Places to hold meetings, discussions, and training
sessions, such as schools, and town halls.
- Some people may be able to donate money to buy materials.
- Some people may have skills that would be useful for community
projects. Among these are carpenters, teachers, masons, artists, traditional
healers, weavers, and potters.
- Many able-bodied people can give their labour.
- Some people may own bicycles, motor cycles, or other vehicles.
Transport is valuable for carrying materials for projects or taking sick people
to the clinic.
- Materials such as wood, cloth, and food can be given by people
for large community projects, or to help families in times of crisis; for
treating sick people you may find that some local herbs work very well; you can
encourage people to make tools and equipment for their projects.
Make sure you know who has any of these resources, and how they
can be obtained. As can be seen from the list above, the members of the
community themselves are the most important resources for solving problems.
Resources outside the community
It is best to solve problems with resources from within your own
community. Sometimes, though, the project may be too big for the resources
available. Also the problem may be difficult to solve. Then it is necessary to
look outside. Here are some resources you may find outside your community:
- Some agencies and ministries give funds and
technical assistance for community projects or for individuals and families in
- People with skills, such as finding underground water for
wells, may come from outside.
- Materials such as cement may have to come from outside as
well; for educational material such as films and posters, you may look to
different agencies; vaccines, drugs, and medical equipment are sent from
outside; many kinds of machines and equipment are sold, loaned, or given by
We have said that it is best to find resources inside your
community. For one thing, it saves money. But, more important yet, people are
proud to be able to help themselves. This pride will encourage people to try to
solve more problems by their own efforts.
Use local resources to solve
problems. Carpenters in this community have helped by making crutches for
It may not be necessary to buy cement outside to make
incinerators, for example. Mud, clay, bricks, and stone are appropriate local
A tractor may look like a wonderful answer to farmers' problems.
After some time though, they may be disappointed when they see the cost of
petrol and the difficulty of getting repairs when the tractor breaks down. An
improved design for local ploughs or the use of horses, mules, oxen, or buffalos
might be more appropriate and have better long-term results.
Linking people with resources
Once resources have been found that will help solve the problem
of the person, the group, or the community in need, you must still bring the
people and the resources together. Good relationships with people and
communication skills are very important here. Only through good relations can
you bring together the people in need with the people who have the resources.
This woman is collecting special
leaves and grasses that can be used to make medicine these are often a valuable
When we talked about participation, we said that it was a
mistake to do work for people that they can do for themselves. This is true with
resources, too. Do not get resources for people if they can get them for
themselves. If you do it for them, they may not be able to find help the next
time they are in need. This is what happened to one community worker, Mr Neb.
Mr Neb was talking one day to a farmers' cooperative
in his district. The farmers said that they needed money to buy seeds and
fertilizers. Mr Neb promised he would help. He went to the Ministry of
Agriculture and found the section that gives loans to farmers. He got the forms
and brought them back. After asking the farmers a few questions, he filled in
the forms for them. He took the forms back to the ministry and got the money for
Later that year Mr Neb was transferred to another district. When
the time came to repay the loan, the farmers did not know what to do. Only Mr
Neb knew all about the resources at the ministry. Finally, an angry official
from the ministry came to collect the money. The farmers gave it to him, but
were afraid to ask him more about loans because they could see his anger. When
the next planting season came, the farmers did not know how to get a
Sometimes problems become more confused when a health worker
tries to get people a resource that they could have obtained themselves. This is
what happened to Mrs Sandos.
Mrs Sandos, a community midwife, heard that people
in her community needed a reliable well. She volunteered to go to the provincial
capital to seek help at the Ministry of Public Works. An official at the
ministry gave Mrs Sandos plans for a well. The officer also promised to help
with costs and supplies if the villagers dug the well exactly to plan.
The villagers were happy to receive Mrs Sandos' report and began
digging the well right away. Before they were half-way down to the depth
required by the plan, they struck water. Though they tried, they could not go
deeper. When Mrs Sandos reported back to the ministry, the official said that he
would not give any help now, because the well was not dug according to the
plans. Mrs Sandos tried to explain the problem, but the officer would not
listen. Mrs Sandos was embarrassed to return home with the bad news and, when
she did, the villagers accused her of Iying. They gave up interest in the
project and today they still have no reliable well.
Think about these two stories What could the two health workers
have done to make a better link between village and resource?
Actually there are several things that you can do to assist
individuals, groups, and whole communities in learning to link up with
resources. First you must supply background information that will help people to
make an effective link. Such information should include:
- Names of agencies, organizations, and individuals
that have resources.
- Description of type of resources provided.
Location of the resource agency.
- Special requirements the agency may have
before giving resources.
Selecting the best resources
Discuss the benefits and difficulties that might come with each
resource and what is best considering the culture and needs of the community
itself. The people involved should make the decision. Do not force an idea on
The community will learn more about the resource if a visit is
made to the agency that has the resource. While you may provide some background
information, it is better if the people learn at first hand what the resource
You should not go to the resource agency alone. If the villagers
are not confident enough to go by themselves, you can go with them the first
time. But they must soon learn to go by themselves. If you are working with a
group, the group may send a few representatives to see the resource agency. You
can introduce the people but should encourage them to speak for themselves. The
person or the group who made the visit will report back and encourage further
Many different resources can be used
to solve a problem. For example this health worker has many drugs to choose from
when supplying a community medicine kit. The pharmacist can help her choose the
most appropriate ones for her community.
Obtaining the resource
The people should make their own decision whether to accept the
resource or not. They themselves should also make all arrangements directly with
the agency. You can be with the people to make sure that they understand what is
happening and that no-one is taking unfair advantage of them. People must know
in advance what, if anything, the agency expects them to do in return.
At each step of the linking process, explain carefully to the
people what is happening. Be sure that more than one person in a group or
community knows how to link up with resources. Then, in case of sickness or
travel, there will always be someone around who knows what to do.
Communities will benefit from the resources of many different
agencies education, agriculture, social development, information, public works,
and a variety of voluntary and special purpose organizations. Help the community
establish ongoing links with these different agencies.
Health education resources
In this section we have talked about resources needed to achieve
actual programme goalscement for a well, or volunteer labour to build a
community meeting-hall, for example. We must also remember that special
resources are needed to communicate the health message that will encourage
people to undertake the programme in the first place. All the points we have
raised about general programme resources (type, availability, and
appropriateness) also apply to education and communication resources.
When collecting information about the community, you should look
for local and traditional means of communication. These may include proverbs,
stories, and fables which elders use to pass traditional values on to the young.
Local leaders may use town criers or bell-ringers to announce coming events.
Traditional songs or plays may communicate important ideas and values. Some
people may own a print shop and be able to make posters to inform the public.
There may also be a photographer in the neighborhood.
Consider which of these and other communication media are
available in your community. Use the ones that will best support your health
education efforts. By using locally available means of communication you will be
involving the community in the programme. Get their ideas on which traditional
proverbs, songs, or stories will be most appropriate for conveying the health
message. Involve local leaders so that they would be willing to use their town
criers to announce important health events and rally the community to take part.
Local artists, printers, and photographers can be involved in designing, and
producing educational material.
Also identify communication resources outside the community.
These may include mass media such as newspapers and radio. The ministries of
health and of information may have films, posters, and vans with loudspeakers
that can be borrowed for local health education programmes. Find out who in the
community has access to newspapers, radios, and other information sources. These
people can be encouraged to share the health information they obtain. A local
school-teacher who subscribes to a newspaper can save articles that relate to
health and use them to teach pupils and inform parents. A community member who
owns a radio could invite neighbors to listen when health programmes are
You, as a local health worker, should be aware of such newspaper
articles and radio programmes so that you can encourage community members to
read and listen, and benefit from the information provided. This involves
resource-linking. Contact the radio or television station and obtain their
programme schedule. When health programmes are broadcast, encourage community
members to listen. You may even encourage them to gather as a group to listen,
so that after the programme a discussion can be held to make sure that everyone
has understood the ideas presented.
Get in touch with the ministries of health and of information.
Find out what resources they have and on what conditions they loan materials
such as films. Read Chapter 7 to learn more about different educational media