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close this folder Research and planning
View the document Introduction
View the document Understanding people
View the document Community survey
View the document Agricultural survey
View the document Needs and resources survey
View the document Record keeping and planning

Community survey


Development must begin where village people are, not where the extension agent wants them to be. For that reason, extension workers study the local community and its connections to the outside world. Basic familiarity with a community helps the agent function more effectively in meeting personal and work needs. Beyond that, it is also a structured, practical task that an extensionist can set before herself to help build confidence in using a new language and practicing local customs.

A simple first step is drawing a map of the physical features of the community. Much of the map's contents - roads, houses, markets, etc can be gathered by observation. Details can be added by consulting neighbors. The point of the first rough sketch of one's site is to become oriented in a very general way to one's surroundings.

The newly arrived field worker should take care in the selection of initial informants. The easiest contacts to make are likely to be a landlady, her husband and relatives, the local government officials, talkative neighbors, a counterpart, or the "pet" farmers of the sponsoring agency. In any case, the extentionist should be careful not to let the earliest contacts weight impressions disproportionately.

It is also important not be overly formal in approaching a community survey. At this early stage, it is not wise to take written notes in the presence of an informant, though some sort of record is essential for later analysis and planning. What is known naturally by a local resident must be systematically written down by an outsider. Therefore, at the earliest opportunity after an interview - midday break or in the evening - new information can be preserved in a field notebook or diary reserved for this purpose.

The first round of information gathering is to help an extension worker orient herself to her surroundings. It is general and broad rather than specific and focussed on a narrowly defined aspect of a community. Naturally, a Community Survey is not completed in the first few weeks of a volunteer's service. It continues at various levels as an ongoing process in extension work. A single informant might during the course of a casual conversation offer interesting insights into a community as a whole as well as some of the more specific types of information referred to later in this chapter. At the same time he might display something of his personal interest (recall the discussion of information filtering in the introduction to this chapter). The task of the extensionist is to place each piece of information in its proper context. It is significant to note that regular repetition of research components serves as a means of monitoring change from the 'beginnings' where people were when the extension agent began her work.


Overlay maps of the essential features of a community:


Orientation map

Orientation map - continue 1

Orientation map - continue 2

Orientation map - continue 3

Orientation map - continue 4



Community survey checklist:

I. Facts about the physical community

A. Climate

1. Rainfall patterns

2. Frequency of drought, flooding

3. Seasonal temperature ranges

B. Water Sources

1. Rivers and streams

2. Swamps

3. Catchment areas

4. Water table

5. Bathing areas

6. Sources of drinking water

7. Sources of food


C. Housing and Roads

1. Number and kind of houses

2. Kinds and location of roads

3. Number of bridges, etc.

D. Vegetation

1. Firewood

2. Timber

3. Plants

4. Farm Crops

II. Facts about the people

A. Population

1. Number of people

2. Age distribution

3. Family size

4. Number of families

5. Density

B. Settlement Pattern

1. Are farm centrally located?

2. Is the village spread out?

3. Is there a center?

4. What is the distance to farmers' farms?

5. Who lives where?

C. Types of People, Ethnic Groups

1. Which groups exist in the community?

2. Which groups do what?

3. Who are group leaders?

D. Sanitation and Health Practices

E. Behavior and Norms

1. Awareness of problems and solutions

2. Receptivity to change

3. Interest in learning new ideas

4. Customs and practices

F. Sources of Income Outside of Agriculture

1. Civil Service

2. Retail or small businesses

3. Industry

4. Crafts

G. Local Leaders

1. Local authorities (head people)

2. Officials sent or appointed from the outside

3. Religious leaders

4. Traditional healers

5. School teachers

6. Extension workers

7. Club, group, union or cooperative leaders

8. Committees

9. Wealthy property owners

10. Opinion leaders among various groups

H. Education

1. Number of schools or nonformal learning processes

2. Kinds of schools

3. Number of students

4. Average level of education