This literature review explores the meaning of community needs assessment and the different types of needs. It also highlights the data that is sought in CNA and the reasons behind seeking such information. The methods of data collection have been discussed, as well as the principles that underpin the steps involved in the process undertaking a CNA.
Community needs assessment is an important strategy that aims at collecting data regarding a community’s requirements, views, and challenges as well as resources that can be applied to establish the actual needs of the community (Stevens et al. 2006). It is a way of identifying the strengths and assets available in the community that can facilitate satisfaction of the needs of all members of the society, whether young or old; working or jobless; able or disabled and any other aspects of diversity in the society. Acosta and Toro (2000) observe that community needs assessment concentrates on the community’s potential all citizens included, groups as well as organizations. It forms the basis for establishing and classifying services and justification as well as establishing a society that upholds and nurtures children and families. Stakeholders in the community such as NGOs, volunteers and any other parties affected by community affairs are involved in the process of community needs assessment. The process enables planners to determine the manner in which a community is currently accomplishing its needs as well as its potential to provide capital and services in future (Alpi, 2005).
There are various needs that the community needs assessment tries to establish. These include; the ability to meet the required standards of living. The employment rates within a particular community are an indicator of the people’s capacity to pay the cost of necessities in their day to day lives. Poverty is mainly a consequence of unemployment in the community. Employment is among the community needs