Articles and How-to Tutorials for NGOs

Needs assessment (Formulating a needs assessment paragraph)

Written by Adel Salah

As we mentioned previously, the needs assessment process consists of five stages, and in this article will talk about the final stage of this process.

Formulating a needs assessment paragraph.

Usually, the donor requires a specific number of pages for the whole proposal or specifies certain words or letters. The needs assessment is written in a narrative way and often does not exceed half an A4 page to a page[.1] . Focusing on the following points, which we take from the problem tree and link with assessment results conducted in the targeted areas by the organization itself or other organizations for the same or nearby areas to the targeted area:

  1. Describe the problem, its size and geographical scope.

  2. We should be concerned only about the problem in the targeted area, so we mention the problem, the district, the governorate in which the problem exists and the number of people affected by the problem.

  3. Who are the groups responsible for the problem?

  4. It means the groups fueling the problem and that have a significant impact on the existence of the problem. If these groups were not targeted by the project activities, the project would not achieve its objectives. These groups can be service providers like educational staff, health staff, local authorities, community leaders, local organizations, relevant institutions or entities, parents and community.

  5. What are the main direct reasons behind the problem?

  6. What are the effects of the problem?

  7. Effects describe the status of the groups responsible for the problem.

  8. What are the damages suffered by the beneficiaries?

  9. Women, men, girls, boys, disabled personnel, people with special needs, IDPs, refugees, marginalized...etc.

  10. What are the effects of the problem on the community as a whole?

  11. When writing this, the following should be taken into account:

  • Writing the name of the reference or the assessment from which the information of the needs and problems were obtained, with the date of issuing and the institution that carried out this assessment or study.

  • The needs and problems of every affected group should be written. For example, we mention the needs of boys separately from girls’ and women’s needs separately from men’s. In case other details are mentioned regarding people with disabilities, the marginalized, IDPs or refugees, these details should be written in separate sentences, as it will not be enough to mention them in total.

  • Problems must be solvable. I.e. the problem or the need should not be bigger than our ability to respond using the activities and the budget planned. In other words, we expand or limit problems or needs of a geographical area and the number of beneficiaries to be in line with the expected funding ceiling, in case the proposal wins.

  •  It is important not to elaborate on the indirect causes of the problem, instead, we should concentrate on the direct causes that will be addressed and provide solutions for when implementing project activities. This means reviewing the needs assessment paragraph after writing the activities to make sure there is a logical relationship between the direct causes mentioned in this paragraph and the activities and interventions we put in the action plan and the logical frame.

  • Direct causes as well as results and impact of the problem should be listed to make the picture fully clear and make the donor ready to anticipate the activities and interventions that will contribute to solve this problem in the targeted area.

Example of a needs assessment paragraph in the proposal

Alphaland organization conducted an education need assessment in Almisrakh district in Taiz governorate in December 2018 and found out that 22% of children in school age (6-18 years old) was not enrolled in primary and secondary schools. Also, girls who were not enrolled in schools were more affected as the results of the assessment showed that 78% of who didn’t enroll in schools was mostly girls. 

The organization found that more than 12 schools suffer from lack of school chairs and a large number of existed chairs are badly damaged and needed maintenance. There is also a need for teachers for the scientific subjects of at least 12 male teachers and 18 female teachers. Therefore, there is a need to contract with teachers and to provide them with monthly incentives to cover this deficit in the educational staff in schools.

The assessment showed that 7 schools needed to be rehabilitated in regards to water and sanitation facilities, while 11 schools needed building more classrooms. 

The results of focus group discussions and individual questionnaires with parents showed that 59% of them didn’t have sufficient knowledge and awareness of the importance of enrolling their children in schools. 46% of them were unable to pay the education fees of their children, such as purchasing bags, stationery, etc.

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