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close this bookIrrigation Training Manual: Planning, Design, Operation and Management of Small-Scale Irrigation Systems (Peace Corps, 1994, 151 p.)
close this folderTraining session
close this folderSection 2: Community organization and mobilization
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View the documentExam: Section 2 - Community participation


* Conducting a Community Needs Assessment
* Community Organization and Mobilization
* Communication Techniques
* Problem Solving
* Working with a Community Water Users Association
* Construction Projects in a Community
* Exam: Section 2 (Community Participation)

Session Topic: Conducting a Community Needs Assessment

Session Goal: For Trainees to identify important attributes and resources within their communities that will support irrigation or other project developments.

Session Objectives:

(1) For Trainees to describe how they will use community assessments at their work sites.

(2) For Trainees to list the information needed to assess the resources in a community.

(3) For Trainees to identify various ways that this information can be gathered without disrupting or raising unnecessary suspicions in a community.

(4) For Trainees to identify pitfalls and problems they are likely to encounter doing community assessments.

(5) For Trainees to prepare a community survey form that they can use during their Volunteer service.

(6) For Trainees to gain field experience conducting rapid needs assessments in a rural community.

Overview: An initial task for Volunteers will be identifying human and physical resources available to support project efforts. Volunteers need to assess administrative, managerial, and technical skills that are present in their communities and document equipment, tools, and other physical resources that can be reliably applied to project needs. During the training it is expected that Trainees will work with small projects in local communities. This session will give Trainees an opportunity to begin interacting with this participating community and organize information that will help their training field projects.

Session Activities:


15 Min.

Have Trainees brainstorm the process involved in developing a total project or program plan. Example:

Problem Identification and Analysis

Needs and Resource Assessment

Project Plan and Design

Implementation Administration Evaluation

Operations and Maintenance

The discussion should include a description of ways of viewing "needs" before going out to collect data. "Needs" can be defined to include:

- felt needs - a wish list, unrestrained by cost, reality and priorities;

- expressed needs - needs expressed by people's actions;

- normative needs - needs seen from the perspective of experts in the field or public officials; and

- comparative needs - needs resulting from inequalities in abilities, services, or resource availability.

10 Min.

Have Trainees select a facilitator to record ideas. The trainers should move to the back of the room and let the Trainees run the session from here on out. Trainees can brainstorm specific topics that should be included in conducting an analysis of the resources available and needs that must be met to support projects in a community. The resource topics should include physical and human resources, and the needs assessment should identify community concerns and problems (e.g., health, skills, materials, and finances). Trainees should compile a comprehensive list of topics on a flip chart and then organize the topics by category, recognizing that not all of this information may be needed for every project. Data requirements are project specific, and there is no need to collect data just for the sake of having data. The Trainees should then describe unobtrusive methods that they can apply to collect this information. Examples include:

- reading and observing,

- interviews with local officials,

- informal interviews and conversations with local people,

- public meetings, and

- participation of villagers in your work activities.

Trainer should remind Trainees that this data collection must be done in a manner that does not arouse suspicions about a Volunteer's motives and Trainees should identify measures for ensuring that the community is supportive of the data collection (for example, have someone from the community do the information collection). Trainer should pull group back together with a discussion of situation analysis and needs assessment processes. This discussion should include:

1. One shot "complete" assessments versus a continuous process that recognizes that as people get more experience and exposure the inventory process improves.

2. The evolutionary nature of needs. At first, people only assess immediate needs. As these initial needs are met, people move on to new needs and long range plans. Also, people's perceptions of needs and problems typically expands with time and participation. Project planning requires a flexible process that can accommodate this evolutionary nature of needs.

3. Need and resource assessment must be a participatory process, and not a blueprint approach done by "experts". Again, the Volunteer's role is to facilitate, motivate, and guide.

4. The importance of communication skills, especially active listening and the use of open-ended questions.

5. The influence of cultural factors and sensitivities (politeness, protocol) on obtaining misleading information.

6. Visible versus invisible needs or resources. Actual relationships, indebtedness, and transaction processes in the community may be very different than what initially appears on the surface.

20 Min.

Trainer should explain to Trainees that they will now divide into groups of three and go into a nearby community to collect information that would support a small-scale irrigation project plan. Trainer should provide a brief background on the social and environmental conditions in the community and draw a simple community map to help Trainees avoid getting lost. This task is best accomplished by having the trainer assign each group specific topics to research and by having the groups dispersed in more than one community. The groups should decide on their own how they will organize their effort, delegate responsibilities, and consolidate the data.

180 Min.

Trainees are transported and left in a central point in each community. A specific time and place for retrieving the Trainees will be determined, and at the conclusion of the field data collection, the Trainees are transported back to the site.

40 Min.

Trainer asks each group to prepare a brief presentation describing the following:

- In general, what happened during your survey?

- What information did you obtain?

- What problems or pitfalls did you encounter?

- What might you have done differently, and how otherwise would you have done it?

- How do you feel you will apply these skills in your work at your site?

10 Min.

Trainer summarizes session by discussing the relationship between accurately assessing community resources and needs and mobilizing and organizing communities.

Trainer Notes: This session requires a great deal of preparation. Communities must be identified and prepared to receive Trainees. Trainers should be prepared to transport Trainees to perhaps several remote locations. In some in-country situations, language skills may be a constraint and may prevent Trainees from working in the field. In these instances, the field session can be eliminated, and this session can be done in the classroom as a role play. Divide the Trainees in half and have one group represent the community members while the other half conducts a needs assessment. Doing the session in the classroom should reduce the total time required by a factor of three.

Materials Required:

* clipboards, pens or pencils
* vehicle transport
* patience

Selected References:

Appendix B. Irrigation Reference Manual: Community Situation Analysis/Needs Assessment

Session Topic: Community Organization and Mobilization

Session Goal: For Trainees to identify and describe techniques they can use to mobilize community participation in projects.

Session Objectives:

(1) For Trainees to describe techniques or strategies that can help mobilize a community for a development project.

(2) For Trainees to practice group decision making and identify important decision-making skills.

(3) For Trainees to practice organizing community support and participation in their field projects.

Overview: This session should be done prior to initiating any field work projects. It combines basic theoretical concepts of community development with an opportunity for Trainees to plan how they will involve community members in their field work.

Session Activities:


30 Min.

Trainer should present visually and descriptively one or two case examples of community involvement in small-scale irrigation systems. For each case, have the Trainees list the important steps to follow in organizing and mobilizing communities. For example,

1. Visiting community, both formally and informally.

2. Identifying community leaders and determining community roles and responsibilities.

3. Conducting a meeting in the community to identify problems and explore issues around irrigation projects.

4. Working with community members to conduct a baseline community needs and resources assessment.

5. Facilitating the development of a water users association (if not already in place).

6. Facilitating water users association design and implementation of project activities:
a. meetings with community organization leaders,
b. contacts with owners of commercial establishments, farmers, and financially important community members,
c. meetings with other organized community groups,
d. meetings with school teachers, and
e. development of support groups.

7. Implementing project:
a. defining community contribution to the project (labor, money, materials),
b. preparing agreements and contracts,
c. defining roles and responsibilities, and
d. establishing administrative structure.

120 Min.

Trainers transport Trainees to their proposed work sites for field projects. The Trainees should have already made arrangements with people from the community to have a community meeting (this can be done through the trainers, if necessary). The Trainees should have informed people in the community that the objective of this meeting is to present ideas about the field projects the Trainees want to do and identify ways in which the community members might want to get involved. It is best to have divided the Trainees into groups of four or less and have each group work with different organizations or activities in the community. The Trainees should be prepared to lead a meeting, present diagrams and descriptions of their project ideas, answer questions, generate enthusiasm for the activity, and organize a work schedule. The actual project to be undertaken should be small and simple enough to be accomplished in a very limited time frame and be only a very minor demand on community members' time.

30 Min.

Return to the training site. Trainers should facilitate an open discussion of the Trainees' experiences. The discussion should identify both successful and ineffective techniques and strategies used to motivate and expedite community participation in the proposed project. Conclude session by having Trainees state what measures they will use to ensure that the community will continue to be integrated into the planning and completion of the field work.

Trainer Notes: This session requires some prep work for the trainers. Community members need to be very clear as to the purpose of the field work and of the Trainees request for help. Trainers should also be prepared to respond to frustrated Trainees, who may quickly discover how little extra time and energy is available in many rural communities. If the field project activities are not being done in active community settings, then this session can be done in the classroom as a role play. Divide the Trainees in half and have one group represent the community members while the other half attempts to mobilize them. Doing the session in the classroom should reduce the total time required by a factor of three.

Materials Required:

* transport
* visual aids, presentation materials (Trainees need these for their community meeting)


Appendix B. Irrigation Reference Manual: Water Users Associations Appendix D, Irrigation Reference Manual: Case Studies

Bunch, R. 1982. Two Ears of Corn: A Guide to People-Centered Agricultural Improvement. World Neighbors, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. pp. 18-36 and 57-70.

Session Topic: Communication Techniques

Session Goal: For Trainees to participate in exercises that will enable them to test and strengthen their ability to communicate ideas, feelings, and symbols.

Session Objectives:

(1) For Trainees to identify skills that facilitate effective communication.

(2) For Trainees to apply these communication skills in both formal and informal settings.

(3) For Trainees to identify communication skills they intend to improve during the course of the training.

Overview: Much of the Volunteers' effectiveness on the job and personal satisfaction living in a rural community will depend on their skills in communicating with people of another culture. Successful Volunteer projects require a sense of trust and goodwill to be developed, and this, in turn, will be determined by the Volunteer's ability to communicate ideas and feelings clearly and confidently. During their service Volunteers may find themselves conducting training workshops for rural community members, organizing and facilitating group meetings, participating in detailed planning and decision-making sessions, meeting with government officials, or simply stopping to chat with people in the street. In all of these settings, the success of their relations will depend upon the strength of their communication skills. This session provides Trainees with opportunities to identify basic skills that can make any communication effort successful. Trainees then participate in exercises to test their abilities to apply these skills.

Session Activities:


15 Min.

Trainer introduces session by facilitating brief definition of communication and description of what is involved in the communication process. Trainer should emphasize that communication is the process by which two individuals attempt to exchange a set of ideas, feelings, symbols, and meanings. Communication occurs both with and without language. We communicate with our facial expressions and other body language and often through some other visual form (e.g., pictures, symbols). Trainer should ask Trainees to identify the causes of misunderstanding and misinterpreted messages. What are the factors that tend to promote communication versus those that seem to prevent us from conveying an idea or feeling? In what ways does "culture" influence this communication process? Trainees should then list factors they feel are intrinsic to promoting communication between peoples of different cultures.

20 Min.

Trainees each select a partner, grab a piece of paper and a color pen. One person will act as the "sender" and the other person will be the "receiver." While sitting back to back, the sender will draw a picture, and then describe his or her drawing in such a way that the receiver can replicate it on his or her own paper. During this process, the receiver cannot communicate in any manner other than to listen carefully and try to draw what the sender is describing. After 10 minutes, the exercise is stopped and the two drawings are compared. Trainer should bring the group together again and have each pair discuss their experience. Notice which details are left out and how details were altered. Discuss factors that influence our "filtering" of information as we receive and process it.

15 Min.

Trainer should select four partners from the Trainee pairings and ask each pair to describe how they might improve the four basic skills essential to any communication exchange: 1) active listening, 2) asking questions, 3) feedback, and 4) non-verbal cues. If there are language instructors or others from the host country available, they can apply the Trainee descriptions of these skills to their own culture through example.

10 Min.

Trainer concludes with discussion of the impossibility of "pure" communication and the influence of our own perceptions and filtration devices. Each person has her or his own construction of "reality,'" and this is very much influenced by the social conditions in which we have been raised and now live. By recognizing and working with these four basic communication skills we can find that the messages we send through language, drawings, or simple body language can be more effectively received. As Volunteers, the use of communication skills will be applied daily in doing extension work, conducting workshops, identifying problems, planning projects, and just everyday social interactions. Strengthening communication skills is perhaps the Volunteer's biggest and most important challenge. Other opportunities will occur throughout the training for Trainees to work with these skills. (If time and interest permits, the drawing exercise can be repeated, with the sender becoming the receiver and the receiver the sender.)

Trainer Notes: If language instructors are part of the training, it may be useful and interesting to have them participate as one part of the drawing team. This adds a valuable cross-cultural dimension to the exercise, which may not come across if it is merely Trainees working among themselves.

Materials Required:

* drawing paper, colored pens or pencils
* flip chart or other visual aids to describe four basic communication skills

Selected References:

Appendix B. Irrigation Reference Manual: Communication Techniques

Session Topic: Problem Solving

Session Goal: For Trainees to develop skills that will enable them to anticipate typical problem situations and develop effective solutions.

Session Objectives:

(1) For Trainees to identify cultural factors that define and influence how we define and respond to problems.

(2) For Trainees to list a series of steps that can be taken to solve any problem they might encounter, technical or personal.

(3) For Trainees to identify possible problems they anticipate after arriving at their site and to select solutions to these problems that should work for them.

Overview: The personal techniques we use to solve problems, and the degree to which we are successful in solving them, essentially determines how well things work out in our lives. Volunteers will encounter a succession of personal and professional problems throughout their period of service. Their ability to create positive solutions to these problems will determine the degree of fulfillment they feel personally and which their community will experience as a result of their Volunteer efforts. In this session Trainees identify the cultural and personal factors that cause us to identify a situation as a "problem" in the first place. A role-play exercise is used to enable Trainees to map out steps that can be applied to any problem situation. Trainees then spend time individually anticipating the kinds of problems they are likely to encounter after completing the training and the kinds of responses they know will work to solve these problems.

Session Activities:


10 Min.

Trainer begins by stating that "problems" are really just "opportunities" - it all depends on how you look at things and how flexible you are in figuring out solutions. Trainer can provide the following examples:

Given the Roman Numeral IX, use one line to make this "nine". into a "six" answer. Solution: S + IX = SIX. (No one said the answer had to be a Roman Numeral! Listening skills again)

Given ...

Use 4 lines to connect all of the dots. (No one said you had to stay within the boundaries of the lines! Listening skills again....)

25 Min.

Trainees participate in a role play in which one Trainee feels that everything in his or her life is going wrong. No one at the site will talk to them, there is way too much work, and it is ridiculous anyway to assume that an untrained person could ever develop an irrigation system that would really work. The Volunteer is considering giving up and just going back home. The other Trainee, after listening carefully, begins to ask questions that lead to the true cause of the "problem": the frustrated Volunteer is simply lonely and is masking that loneliness by working on building a project day and night, with little break in effort. The friend asks the frustrated Trainee if he or she has felt this before and then asks what kinds of things have worked in the past to deal with feeling lonely or out of place. The friend asks the frustrated Trainee to be honest about which solutions he or she is most likely actually to pursue and to describe why. Once the friend feels some sense of commitment from the frustrated Trainee about the preferred solutions, then the frustrated Trainee is asked what he or she will do to get out of this rut and when he or she will start to take action. The guiding friend asks the troubled friend to send a postcard in a few weeks to say how it is all going.

25 Min.

Trainer leads Trainees through discussion in which they list the steps taken by the 'guiding friend" to help the troubled friend solve the problem. These steps should depict problem solving as:

1. setting a positive environment that feels supportive, and in which solutions seem possible;

2. defining the problem as precisely as possible;

3. discussing possible solutions;

4. identifying the pros and cons of each solution;

5. selecting a solution;

6. developing an action plan; and

7. after initiating action, taking time to reflect and evaluate your results. If the solution needs modification, just build it into the effort.

Trainer emphasizes that these steps are applicable to any problems, be they technical concerns-about irrigation or personal concerns. Trainees list concepts or language that can get in the way of constructive problem solving:

- replaying the past in your mind,

- having vague goals,

- making judgments about others and allowing these judgments to influence your problem definition and possible solutions,

- using the words never, impossible, can't, try, limitation, if only, but, difficult, ought to, should, and, doubt, and

- using any words that tend to measure, judge, or condemn you or someone else.

Trainer describes the value of creative, positive visualization as a problem-solving tool. Try to see what the "problem" looks like when it is "solved" or what life looks like without the "problem." Develop a very clear picture of this in your mind. Then allow yourself to visualize steps that occurred to create this positive vision. Trainer concludes by having Trainees describe other such techniques that work for them to fulfill the 7-step problem solving procedure.

Trainer Notes: Case studies can be used as examples of problems to be solved, although the emphasis must be placed on the process used to solve the problem and not necessarily the solution.

Materials Required: None

Selected References:

Appendix B. Irrigation Reference Manual: Problem Solving Appendix D, Irrigationf Reference Manual: Case Studies

Session Topic: Working With A Community Water Association

Session Goal: Trainees will describe the role, function, and structure of a typical water users association and describe the role of a Peace Corps Volunteer in working with these associations.

Session Objectives:

(1) Trainees will describe the functions and structure of a water users association.

(2) Trainees will participate in a role play to identify typical problems and constraints in maintaining associations.

Overview: Well organized and administered water users associations can ensure effective operation and maintenance of irrigation systems. In this session Trainees work with skills developed in the Communication Skills, Community Needs Assessment, and Community Organization and Mobilization sessions to identify needs and problems in working with associations.

Session Activities:


15 Min.

Trainer will present a brief overview of the structure and functions of a hypothetical water users association and describe the role that this association is playing in operating and maintaining a local irrigation system. This overview sets the stage for the subsequent role play but should also serve as a concise but comprehensive overview of organizational and administrative needs in forming and sustaining water user groups.

30 Min.

Trainees divide into two groups. One group, comprised of two Trainees, represents recently arrived extension workers who are trying to become familiar with local irrigation practices. A second group with 3-4 Trainees will represent members of the water users association. The extension workers have arrived to interview the water users association to learn the following:

- What are the typical crops being planted and how are local people managing the cropping pattern in the valley?

- What kinds of operation and maintenance practices are the association using to manage water?

- What kinds of problems are the farmers finding, and how is the association helping local farmers work with their problems?

- How often does the association meet, and can the extension workers attend the next meeting?

The trainer should coach the Trainees acting as the association members before the role play. Give the Trainees suggestions for a few personal problems within the association in an effort to make this exercise at least a bit realistic.

15 Min.

Trainees assess the role play and identify important considerations that must be resolved in establishing or working with a water users association. Trainees develop a list of procedures that can be used to resolve disputes in groups. Trainer provides a brief overview of several local water user associations and discusses some of their strengths, weaknesses, problems, and accomplishments.

60 Min.

Trainees visit representatives of a local water users association and interview them about organizational structure, administrative procedures, member responsibilities, and overall objectives.

Trainer Notes: It is important to make the role play realistic and not just a funny dialogue. Trainers should coach the Trainees acting as association representatives, and give them some basic information about the hypothetical group they represent. Trainer should visit with a local water users group and provide them with some background on the training objectives and Trainees skill levels.

Materials Required:

* transport

Selected References:

Appendix B. Irrigation Reference Manual: Water Users Associations

Session Topic: Construction Projects in a Community

Session Goal: For Trainees to identify technical and cross-cultural skills they want to further develop to facilitate their community projects.

Session Objectives:

(1) For Trainees to examine and evaluate the construction of projects in a community as a cross-cultural experience.

(2) For Trainees to describe the relationship between their community construction projects and the work they anticipate doing as Volunteers.

(3) For trainers to provide feedback on Trainee construction projects.

Overview: This session, best done at a mid-point in the training, provides trainers and Trainees an opportunity to review field work to date and identify the cross-cultural, as well as technical, [earnings that result from the field work. This session should be done as an informal dialogue between the trainer(s) and Trainees, without any structured activities.

Session Activities:


30 Min.

Trainer should assemble the following questions on a flip chart, and then ask the Trainees to discuss as a group their responses to each question. Trainer should reveal only one question at a time to avoid having Trainees responding to all questions at once.

- What have been your major problems or frustrations in the field project work? What personal changes did you need to make in order to adjust to these problems?

- What do you perceive to be the community's view of Peace Corps and of you as Volunteers? In what ways do you feel you influenced that perception?

- What did you observe to be the strong social institutions in the community? In what ways did you feel a part of them or separate from them?

- What technical knowledge related to the field work did community members demonstrate? How did you work with their skills and incorporate them into the effort?

- What impact did the physical work environment have on your field work? How did you adjust to the environment?

- What were the main positive aspects of working in the community?

Trainer should summarize key points and concepts being made by the group on a flip chart and then conclude by linking this information to material covered in the sessions on Conducting a Community Needs Assessment and Community Organization and Mobilization.