Framework and tools for actively learning about community needs and strength and setting priorities.

The purpose of this Handbook is to articulate the key elements and process for conducting a community assessment. It is intended to provide a framework and tools for actively learning about a community’s needs and strengths and then setting priorities. The Handbook describes a community assessment process from beginning to end and should serve as a guide rather than a definitive model. A community assessment can take many forms and should be individualised based on the specific needs and resources in the community.

Community workers and their communities should modify, build upon and refine this model based on their reasons for undertaking an assessment; the availability of human and financial resources as well the time line established for the completion of the assessment activities. Be creative about using the model described in this handbook.

Today, virtually every community is seeking to develop better outcomes regarding the multitude of issues and challenges they face. This is particularly true, given increasingly limited resources. A community requires accurate, meaningful information on which to base its efforts. One of the first steps a community should take is to conduct a community assessment to gain information about its needs and resources. An assessment also helps mobilise community members and key stakeholders to act on the information gathered.