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close this bookAppropriate Community Technology - A Training Manual (Peace Corps; 1982; 685 pages)
View the documentThe Farallones Institute Rural Center
View the documentCHP International, INC.
View the documentPreface
View the documentAcknowledgments
View the documentIntroduction
close this folderPhase I: Introduction to training
View the documentPhase I Calendar
View the documentSession 1. Sharing perceptions of appropriate technology: an ice breaker
View the documentSession 2. Defining expectations of the appropriate community technology training program
View the documentSession 3. Group resource assessment
View the documentSession 4. Appropriate educational and learning processes part 1: non-formal education (nfe) and international community development work
View the documentSession 4. Appropriate educational and learning processes part 2: adult learning theory and how it is used in this training program
View the documentSession 5. Development of facilitation skills criteria
View the documentSession 6. Cross-cultural awareness and communication
View the documentSession 7. Hollow square
View the documentSession 8. Health in a cross-cultural context
View the documentSession 9. Community resource investigation
View the documentSession 10. An exercise in problem solving: formulating a plan for well-being
View the documentSession 11. Communication and listening skills
View the documentSession 12. Construction of earthen block molds: a focus on group dynamics
View the documentSession 13. Construction of earthen blocks
View the documentSession 14. Global energy issues
View the documentSession 15. Introduction to the evaluation process
View the documentSession 16. Evaluation and integration of training themes
Open this folder and view contentsPhase II: Earthen construction and fuel-saving cookstoves
Open this folder and view contentsPhase III: Pedal/treadle power
Open this folder and view contentsPhase IV: Solar water heaters
Open this folder and view contentsPhase V: Solar agricultural dryers
Open this folder and view contentsPhase VI: Concluding the program: The energy fair
Open this folder and view contentsAppendices

Session 9. Community resource investigation


Total time:

1-1/2 hours


* To examine and discuss two community analysis models
* To review information gathering techniques
* To prepare questions and an information gathering strategy for a community visit


* Brownlee, Community, Culture and Care, pp. 1-41
* The Farallones Institute, The Integral Urban House, Chapter 2
* Attachment I-9/1-A, "Energy Flow in a Closed System Habitat"
* Attachment I-9/1-B, "The Keeprah Holistic Model"
* Attachment I-9/1-C, "Information Gathering Strategy"


Newsprint and felt-tip pens

Trainer Notes

This begins a three-part session which can easily take one full day to complete. It is suggested that you post the day's schedule one day prior to the session, so that people can plan accordingly.


Step 1. (15 minutes)
Give a brief talk on information gathering. Invite comments, questions and discussion.

Trainer Notes

Explain that we are constantly gathering information and then filtering it, validating it and analyzing it to provide us with a framework for understanding and decisionmaking. The first steps in gathering information are the most critical. Describe information gathering as a process that has a series of steps.

Post the following model on newsprint for review:

Information Gathering Modes

Step 1

Step 2

Step 3

Step 4

Gather info Convert to: Inferences Hypotheses Guesses

Evaluate info Test inferences Analyze

A working knowledge of how a community operates

To build a developmen t strategy

Explain that we will be focusing primarily on Steps 1 and 2 of the above model since these steps can determine success or failure in our development efforts.

The following comments may be useful in talking about techniques of entering a new community:

* Look and listen.
* Remember, you are a guest.
* Allow time to sensitize to local ways and local ecology.
* Examine support systems: customs, services, technologies.
* Recognize your own biases as filters through which you see.
* Verify information through the process of triangulation (checking information by asking several people the same information).

Step 2. (15 minutes)
Distribute and review Attachments I-9/1-A, "Energy Flow in a Closed System Habitat, and I-9/1-B, "The Keeprah Holistic Model." Invite comments.

Trainer Notes

Explain that the use of a community analysis model can help us organize our approach when entering a new community and guide us to seek particular information. Explain that these models are two kinds of "systems" approaches: the Keeprah as sociological and the flow model as more biological. Ask people if they have any experience using community analysis models.

Step 3. (15 minutes)
Distribute Attachment I-9/1-C, "Information Gathering Strategy," and explain the community visit activity.

Trainer Notes

The adjoining community (town, village, neighborhood, etc.) and the training site provide natural settings for community resource investigations. The visits are intended to provide an initial view of a community and are not meant to give an indepth understanding of all community systems, relationships, needs or. concerns.

The community resource investigation will be carried out by information gathering teams. Two teams can be organized to carry out this investigation:

* One team can visit and gather information at the training site (looking at the training site as a community).
* A second team can visit the surrounding community.

Each team should develop a strategy for gathering the information independent of the other. The teams may use the "Information Gathering Strategy," "Energy Flow in a Closed System Habitat," and the "Keeprah Holistic Model" attachments as resources for designing their strategies. However, they should be encouraged to develop their own strategy by adapting the models found in the attachments or inventing their own.

Information gathering strategies should include:

* A community analysis model
* Methodologies to be used
* A list of questions
* A strategy for filtering information through triangulation

Inform the teams they have one hour to develop their strategies and one hour and 45 minutes to carry out the investigation.

Step 4. (30 minutes)
Have the participants form two information gathering teams and develop their strategies for community visits.

Trainer Notes

You may wish to refer the teams to the session resources for additional background material.


A schematic diagram of nutrient and energy cycles in an integral habitat. Note that technology (the middle ring) mediates between ecosystem resources (the outer ring) and human needs and functions (the inner ring).

Energy Flow in a Closed System Habitat


The community analysis model which you will be working with assumes that you can break down a community, for purposes of analysis, into a series of segments, or subsystems.

Each segment, in the real world, interacts with the other to produce a continual movement and balance which keeps the community alive and moving. Change in one segment can affect another and vice versa. Intervention will do the same. For example, if you introduce improved pig-raising practices by penning up pigs and feeding them, rather than letting them forage for food (an economic intervention), you affect the community health by reducing pig-carried diseases.

Cutting across all segments of the community, you will find that there are common elements. These common elements are defined as:

A. Resources (human, natural and man-made)

B. Problems. Problems are defined as the gap between what is and what should be (what "should be" is often defined culturally).

C. Patterns. Patterns exist which give clues about what is there and how persons perceive them. These patterns of behavior often constitute cultural meaning, as well as biological necessity.

D. Leadership. Among the human resources, you will probably find that leadership exists in many of the sub-areas of the community.

The following model describes this approach to looking at community.


Here is a procedure you may wish to follow in developing your team information gathering strategy:

1. Decide which questions the team considers to be the most important.

2. Consider ways of using the skills and experience of your team members most effectively.

3. Decide whether you will work individually, in pairs or as a team.

4. Look at varying approaches to information gathering and select methods which seem most appropriate.

For example:

* Observation
* Interviews
* Review of written material
* Asking questions
* Flow analysis (sitting in one place and watching what goes on)

5. Develop an approach to validating your information through the use of triangulation.

6. Decide whether or not it would be appropriate to meet at a certain point during the actual information gathering process to revise or modify your strategy.


Total time:

2 hours


* To enter and establish rapport with a community
* To carry out an information gathering strategy


Refer to Part 1.


As determined by the information gathering teams

Trainer Notes

Decide whether any special arrangements must be made with the community/ies prior to these visits.


Step 1. (15 minutes)
Check with each team to verify the information gathering strategies. Invite comments, questions and discussion.

Trainer Notes

The trainer notes under Step 3 in Part 1 of this session outline the areas that should be included in the information gathering strategies.

Step 2. (1 hour, 45 minutes)
Have the teams carry out the community visits.

Trainer Notes

* Be certain the teams know when they should reconvene.
* The community visits may be followed by the lunch break. Participants may have the option of extending the activity or combining it with lunch.


Total time:

2-1/2 hours


* To use the four roles for structured meetings
* To organize and present information gathered from the community visit
* To examine and contrast the community analysis models used in the community visits
* To generalize and apply the information gathering experience


* Attachment I-1/3-A, "Four Roles for Structured Community Meetings"
* Refer to Part 1 for additional resources


Newsprint and felt-tip pens


Step 1. (10 minutes)
Present the session objectives and review the session activities. Distribute, review and explain Attachment I-1/3-A. Invite questions and comments.

Trainer Notes

When reviewing and explaining the attachment, mention the following points:

* The group roles described are a particularly effective way of structuring group activities, meetings, etc.

* The process is direct and uncomplicated and has been used with great success by villagers in the Animation Rural Program in French-speaking Africa.

* The information gathering teams will be asked to use this format in this session when giving their presentations.

* These roles will be used throughout the training program.

Step 2. (35 minutes)
Have the information gathering teams organize their information and prepare a presentation.

Trainer Notes

To share this information, explain that the teams should:

* Organize the information and prepare it for presentation.
* Illustrate on newsprint the model used to gather information.
* Prepare an oral presentation involving the participation of each team member.
* Identify a discussion guide, timekeeper, recorder and process observer, as explained in the attachment, to help structure the presentation.
* Distribute newsprint and felt-tip pens to each team.
* Explain that the teams have 50 minutes to prepare their presentations.

Step 3. (45 minutes)
Have the groups give their presentations.

Trainer Notes

Allow for time at the end of the presentations for brief comments, questions and feedback on the success of the presentations. The person identified as "process observer" can also relate impressions.

To focus the discussion on the presentations, ask the participants:

* What did you like most/least about the presentation?
* What did you feel could be improved?
* What suggestions do you have for improvement?

Step 4. (10 minutes)
Have the participants take a short break.

Step 5. (30 minutes)
Reconvene the groups and discuss the survey process.

Trainer Notes

The following questions will help focus the discussion.

* How did your groups function?
* Was there participation by all?
* What types of decision making were used?
* Was there a delegation of roles and tasks?
* What improvements could be made in group process?
* Did you have to revise your strategies?
* Were the models effective tools for information gathering?
* In what ways do the different models organize information?
* Can you imagine combining the two models? Benefits? Problems?
* What methods of information gathering did you use?
* How did the interviewing go? Did you work in groups or individually?
* Did you use the process of triangulation to verify the information?
* What was the most difficult aspect of this experience?
* What improvements or differences could be made in information gathering methodology?

Step 6. (20 minutes)
Review and discuss the session objectives and activities.

Trainer Notes

Have the participants answer the following questions during the discussion:

* Has this been an effective way to practice information gathering skills and approaches?
* Would this be an effective way to gather information when entering a community in-country?
* What do you think you learned today? Have-we met our objectives?
* How has our meeting gone? Has the roles format been useful?
* Can you imagine ways that the role format might be applied in-country?


1. Discussion Guide: Guides the members through the meeting.

2. Timekeeper: Keeps track of the time.

3. Recorder: Records information for use during the meeting.

4. Process Observer: Watches and reports how members are working together as well as what they are accomplishing.


Group members become stronger as they practice each role. So, rotate all four roles. Stronger members mean more group energy'

Discussion Guide

* Start the meeting at the scheduled time.

* Conduct attunement and "be here now" activities.

* Go around the group to see if everyone is ready to begin the meeting. Take care of individual needs before starting business.

* Be sure the group has a timekeeper, a recorder and a process observer.

* State the purpose of the meeting as you see it. Get an agreement. (If this means changing the purpose, that's all right. Consensus of members about the meeting's purpose or goal has to be reached before proceeding.)

* Reach an agreement on the closing time. Ask the timekeeper to give the group a 10-minute signal before closing time (or whatever warning they want).

* Ask the group to call out tasks to be accomplished in order to reach the goal. Ask the recorder to write them on the chalkboard.

* Assist the members in selecting the order of importance and the time allotted for each task.

* Guide the members in working through the agenda items.

* Ask for the process observer's report.

* End the meeting with attunement or other form of closure.


* Act as an alarm clock, not as a judge. (That is, alert the others at the times they ask. If members agree on a time extension, be ready to respond to the "resetting." It's all right if tasks are not completed according to plan!)

* If no one else does it, be sure to get the time allotted for each task. (You don't have to do all of the work on time needs if others are willing to share this.)

* Remind the group members near the end of the meeting to save time for the process observer's report.

* Remind; ton's reform. Be gentle.


* See that a wall chart (or chalkboard) is in everyone's full view. Have marking pens or chalk and eraser ready for use.

* Write agenda items and their priority (order of importance) and the time allotted for each (if the group wants this kind of assistance).

* Keep whatever kind of record the members ask.

* Record the proposals and read them to the group at the end of the meeting.

Process Observer

Watch (like a camera, without judgment if possible) HOW the members work together. Ask for time at the end of the meeting to give your answers to the following questions:

* Did the members all agree on the meeting's goal?
* Was the style of leadership appropriate for the task?
* Was the timekeeping effectively carried out?
* Was recording, as needed, effectively carried out?
* Did members show feelings of friendliness and trust?
* Did everyone participate in some way?
* Did members reach their goal or, if not, did they understand why not?

On a scale of 1 to 10, rate the success of the group life (apart from the group task):


Remember that you can take part in the meeting as well as observe it!

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