3.7 Participatory assessment approaches

The community engagement process should start from the assessment phase in order to complement the technical inputs to the response programme with the community perception of needs, vulnerabilities and capacities. A number of participatory tools for assessment have been tested and developed in both disaster and conflict related conflicts, for a more comprehensive understanding of the context and to define the way forward for the resilience building of the assisted communities.

While it is important to ensure that technical expertise is provided in conducting initial assessments and more generally, throughout the project cycle, social mobilisers and community volunteers should be trained and involved in participatory assessment to be able to facilitate a community led action planning process.

Vulnerability and Capacity Assessment  (VCA)

A vulnerability and capacity assessment (VCA) is a participatory approach to provide an overall analysis of a community’s needs and assets. It is a useful exercise for community groups, including the community representatives , the civil society groups and the local authorities to identify the communities most at risk, assess risks and hazards facing communities and the capacities they have for dealing with them. The VCA approach can feed into programme design and help develop realistic and relevant activities that are better suited to local needs and priorities.

For the VCA methodology see: How to do a VCA, IFRC


Participatory Approach to Safe Shelter Assistance (PASSA)

Drawing upon the practice of community action planning, PASSA uses the same methodology as the VCA toolkit and can be used to support communities to identify their own shelter and settlement issues and vulnerabilities, the root causes of those issues and develop their own solutions that should include spatial and environmental planning, local building cultures and techniques.

Eight participatory activities enable the participants to do the following progressively:

  • Develop their awareness of shelter safety issues in their community
  • Identify hazards and vulnerabilities that create risk related to shelter
  • Recognize and analyse causes of shelter vulnerability
  • Identify and prioritize potential strategies to improve shelter safety
  • Make a plan to put those shelter safety strategies into place, based on local capacities
  • Monitor and evaluate progress

Awareness raising and training needs on technical and non technical aspects of the construction process can be identified and prioritised with the beneficiaries, civil society and local authorities involved in the PASSA activities.

For more on the PASSA methodology see: IFRC Passa Manual – English