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close this bookFood from Dryland Gardens - An Ecological, Nutritional, and Social Approach to Small Scale Household Food Production (CPFE, 1991)
close this folderPart I - Gardens as a development strategy
close this folder4. Assessment techniques
View the document(introduction...)
View the document4.1 Summary
View the document4.2 Assessment, monitoring, and evaluation
Open this folder and view contents4.3 From whose point of view?
View the document4.4 What do existing gardens tell us?
Open this folder and view contents4.5 Interviews
View the document4.6 Seasonality
View the document4.7 Food distribution and consumption
View the document4.8 Maps
View the document4.9 Long-term trends
View the document4.10 Outside sources
View the document4.11 Resources
View the documentReferences

4.11 Resources

Many resources about assessments and how to do them are long lists of “Questions to ask.” These can stimulate thinking, but too often discussion of how to go about actually doing the assessment and what to do with the information is lacking. To some extent this is unavoidable because methods and questions must be tailored each time to meet the special circumstances of each community and project.

Figure 4.6 A Sample Sketch Map

Box 4.5
Outside Information


· Census reports of both population and agriculture
· Medical and nutritional surveys
· Soil surveys
· Surface and groundwater surveys
· Anthropological, historical, geographical reports
· Botanical surveys
· Agricultural experiment station reports
· Research papers by college and university students
· Project and planning documents and reports


· Local and national clinics, health posts, hospitals

· Universities that have carried out local research

· Local, regional and national government departments of agriculture, health, nutrition, community development, census

· Libraries

· People who have previously worked in the area

· Local or international development organizations like ILIEA, Hesperian Foundation, Cultural Survival, and many others (Chapter 19 has brief descriptions of these and other organizations.)

One of the best books to read when preparing to do an assessment is Rural Development: Putting the Last First (Chambers 1983). This is an easy-to-read discussion of why and how many development activities have tended to overlook those most in need. It also gives some brief suggestions of ways to overcome this problem in projects and project assessments.

We think the best outline for assessment is by David Werner and Bill Bower in their book Helping Health Workers Learn (1982). This is an excellent, inspiring book full of information useful for anyone working in community development. Werner and Bower constantly emphasize practical methods that support local control, while keeping in mind the goal of improved well-being for those most in need. The following sections are especially helpful for assessments: Chapter 6, “Learning and Working with the Community;” Chapter 7, “Helping People Look at Their Customs and Beliefs;” and the discussion of evaluations in Chapter 9, “Examinations and Evaluation as a Learning Process.”

Anthropologists and other social science field workers have been struggling with the best ways to gather and use data from local communities for a long time. Spradley’s books on participant observation (1980) and ethnographic interviewing (1979) are good, practical introductions which emphasize the need to understand the local situation from the people’s point of view, and to do research with, and in the best interests of, local people. Bernard (1988) has published a helpful handbook on field methods in cultural anthropology, emphasizing quantitative measurement.

Part three, “Field Methodologies,” in OXFAM’s The Field Directors’ Handbook (Pratt and Boyden 1985) provides a general introduction to assessment at the program level.