Network of African Youths for Development - 'Together is better'
Actiontoolkit - Preparation - Identify a need

You know you want to do something and you have an idea in your head about what that might be. Before you do anything else, you need to develop three things to turn that idea into a reality: Start with your own knowledge: You probably already know what you would like your project to tackle. Use your local knowledge as the basis of your research of both your community and subject area. List exactly what you know and the issues you believe need to be addressed. To plan a fantastic project, write down anything that you would like to find out but don’t be too specific at this stage. Your research may un- cover new ideas. Don’t limit yourself. However, by clarifying a broad idea of the area and people you would like to work with, you have a far better starting point for your research. Use what you already know to identify the people you should be talking to, to find out more. Talk to your community: From your own experiences, you have identified where you would like to do your project and some of the ideas it may tackle. Now it is time to learn from the people this project should hopefully benefit. What do they think will improve their community?The web is full of sites offering information about development priorities. Try doing a web search using key phrases or check out some of these online research centres. www.idrc.ca: www.id21.org: www.developmentgoals.org: www.wri.org: www.eldis.org: www.odi.org.uk: www.unmillenniumproject.org: www.un.org. Before you begin planning your project, it is essential you thoroughly research both your subject area and the people who will be changed by your project. Good research can help you African scenemake sure you tackle the right issue effectively and efficiently.

Cultural and Ethical Considerations
How well do you know the people affected by your project? If they are part of your community,you probably know them pretty well and you don’t have to worry;their norms of behaviour will be your norms.But if you are from the middle-class part of town and are interviewing people in the poorer areas, be aware that culture and norms may be very different.The same applies if you are planning to take part in a project abroad. It is essential to get to grips with differences of culture to prevent misunderstandings from damaging your work.Try getting in touch with local people or organisations and ask for guidance before you go to areas.Think about taking on a local person as a cultural mentor who can advise you on any issues that may affect your project and relationship with the community. Here also are a few points to consider:
• Rules for clothing:Is that skirt too short? Do men and women need to cover up?
• Language:Could your words be misinterpreted to mean something different?
• Rural areas:Remember rural areas can be more conservative and protective than urban areas in the same country.
• Religion and beliefs:Are there certain times for prayer when you shouldn’t disturb? Be aware of any clashes between your project and theAfrica scene local religion and prepare solutions to tackle this. What are their attitudes toward the problem you wish to tackle. Is it an issue that will engage them or is it of comparatively low importance? Always talk to your peers: your project may not be aimed at young people, but it should definitely be done by them. So find out what is on their minds, and how they think they can affect change. Talk to the people who will be most helped by your project. If you plan to run a soup kitchen for the homeless, talk to the homeless about their needs. Do not worry about formal questioning at this stage. It is important to get a general feel for the community so you know where to direct your energy and who to contact in the future. Hit the books: Now that you have a broad idea of what the community needs it is time to back up your knowledge with facts. Research the issues faced by your community so
you can become an expert on the problem. When looking for funding it is incredibly useful to be able to quote statistics and hard facts, so take the time to collect some that suggest there is a real need for your project. Think literacy rates, HIV-AIDS infection rates, school enrollment rates – all of these statistics should be available at your local UNDP office.

Getting a project idea
Once you are well informed on the issues and feelings of the community, you can confidently start planning your project. To do this, you need a workable and achievable idea. There is no best way to generate a project idea, but there are steps that will make sure your idea is a good one. Get help: Having more than one person thinking about a problem leads to better solutions. Build a team of like-minded people. Bounce issues and suggestions off one another. Interaction: Talking with others almost always generates new suggestions. Your team will help you measure how good an idea really is. Constantly invite feedback: take on both positive and negative criticism, and use it to develop your idea. Try not to be too upset if someone identifies a major flaw in your idea - better to raise a problem now than later after you have put a lot of work into an idea. Africa scene
Idea generating: Expect to have a few failed ideas before you get one that is really good. Explore what have others done before you and how can you learn from this. Does their research highlight anything you hadn’t thought of? Think about the issue on a local and national level. What, for example, is being done locally and globally to tackle the AIDS pandemic? Are there groups and organisations on both levels that could help or work with you on your project? Or are you duplicating the work of another and would it be best to tackle an alternative problem or another angle? Check out groups registered in your local area and surf the internet to find national programmes of research and action. Streamline your ideas through detailed questioning: You now know the issue you would like to tackle inside and out. Use your new knowledge to go back into the community and ask the key questions that will help you identify exactly how this issue can be tackled in this specific area. Your earlier contact with the community should have given you an idea of the key people to go back and talk to. From your research you should have an idea of exactly what you need to ask.
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