Conducting Local Rapid Assessments in Districts and Communities

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Increasingly health and family planning programs are decentralizing managerial responsibilities. As a result, managers at the local and district level need to make strategic decisions so that their programs will continue to meet the health needs of the communities they serve. To identify appropriate ways to improve their program, local managers may need to supplement existing service statistics and large-scale survey data with targeted local assessments. While broad assessments can be daunting for local managers, local rapid assessments (LRAs) offer managers quick, inexpensive, locally-controlled methods for obtaining the specific data they need to take informed action.

This issue of The Manager explains how LRAs can improve local decision making when used appropriately. It offers guidelines on how to prepare for an LRA by forming a team of staff and community representatives with a direct interest in the outcome of the assessment. It provides detailed information on the steps managers and their teams must follow to complete a well-organized LRA in a few weeks’ time and produce an action plan that has the support of all the groups needed for its implementation. The supplement, The Manager’s LRA Reference Guide, presents additional techniques, concepts, and forms for successfully designing an LRA, organizing data collection, and producing usable results.