Need assessment is an important way of attaining change in the people of a community. Health is one issue which demands different strategies depending on the situation. Need assessment procedures are very helpful in such varying circumstances. In light of these facts, community health educators are required to select suitable health plans and the related needs assessment methods.
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The first step in the assessment process is planning and the organizing phase (Sharma & Lanum, 02). This includes information gathering, learning about the issue for which the assessment is being held and identifying goals and objectives of the need assessment. Information gathering is very important as it will tell the current methods of waste management present in the community and the existing resources. Creating awareness about the issue will encourage people and waste management organizations in the community as to why waste management is important and how it relates to health. Identifying goals helps to stick to a specified path and come up with plans that lead to desired goals as in this case the goal is to identify the specific issues related to waste management.
Developing nations are continuously trying to improve their waste management but at the moment they are clearly struggling for proper waste disposal. Issues related to waste collection, combustion, landfills etc are very common in the developing countries. Pakistan for example is one of the developing nations with a lot of waste management issues. Improper disposal and deficiency of adequate management are some of the main problems related to waste management. The current system of waste management includes municipal waste management authority and two private organizations. No proper disposal sites are available in the country and recycling is not considered as an option. Most of the material which can be recycled is not in the condition to be reused after the waste has been collected (Batool, 02). Third world countries too often try to imitate procedures for waste management used by the developed nations but fail at this. The reasons for this are corruption, lack of knowledge, non viable policies etc (Curi, p. 31). Thus in order to asses these issues and the current resources that are available with the community, and in order to improve these discrepancies, we can use the need assessment techniques. Methods such as scanning social indicators, records and area analysis give a thorough idea of existing issues and available resources. The utilization review technique can also be used as it gives an arranged date on socio-demographic indicators. Health status indicators also tell what kinds of diseases are spread in the locality. The cause of diseases can then be traced easily and whether they are related to waste management or not. (Umble, p. 17).
Thus the next step is development of a needs assessment survey. After the survey has been developed citizens should be requested to take part in the survey. Door to door surveys and forums are the best way of community involvement in a need assessment plan (Umble, p. 17). Focus groups can be held as well before the questionnaires as they help in getting a clearer picture form the consumer’s point of view. Community mapping can also help develop a good survey questionnaire as it shows how people see the community and what they think will be most beneficial for the community. Community mapping shows where the problem is, who gets affected by it and how it can be better managed (Fadem & Conant, p. 15). Online forum for such discussion have already been started by many communities in Pakistan. After the survey is done a computer database can be used to analyze the results and then work on areas which need improvement according to the results. Summarizing the results helps the need assessment committee to see a pin point picture of the state of affairs and then act accordingly. Thus, a need assessment plan can be carried out in this way for waste management issues in developing nations.
- Curi, K. (1985). Appropriate waste management for developing countries. Illustrated Edition. Published by Plenum Press
- Batool, A. and Chaudhry, N. (2007). Economic potential of recycling business in Lahore, Pakistan. Waste Management, Volume 28, Issue 2.
- Sharma, A. and Lanum, M. (2000). A community needs assessment guide. Web.
- Conant, J. and Fadem, P. (2008). A Community Guide to Environmental Health. Chapter 2, page 15. Published by Hesperian Foundation
- Umble, E. (1995). Needs assessment for mobilization in community health education.