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10%20Seed%20Technique%20Field%20Notes.jpgThe development activities that we want to work with are grassroots solutions based upon community needs assessments. We will be working with solid participatory tools that will uncover needs identified by community members in your outreach programs.

The Ten Seed Technique is a modified Participatory Learning and Action (PLA) tool. It was introduced by Dr Ravi Jayakaran as a tool that can enable illiterate community members to participate in the discussions about their community’s needs.

It is useful in gathering qualitative information on various issues, especially related to the perceptions of the community and the way people see themselves in relation to others. The technique is very flexible and therefore versatile, enabling its use in combination with other techniques and also for collecting a wide range of information.

How it works: After initial rapport building with the group, explain that the purpose of the exercises is to understand and learn about their community from their perspective. The facilitators of the exercise should then explain the purpose of the specific subject that they propose to explore with them.

To initiate discussion for a community-wide needs assessment, ask the group to imagine all the problems and needs that are faced by the community as a whole. Active participation can be enabled by giving everyone an equal chance to share views.

For example, you may elect to form two groups out of one community – one of women and one of men – so that women can feel comfortable participating in the discussion. Strong personalities might need to be filtered out; they may be able to be reasoned with in order to understand the importance of the participatory process, given projects that will occupy them, or taken aside for a key person interview.

Each individual community need, as it is identified by a community member, is drawn graphically on a large sheet of newsprint – or right on the ground. The technique is a very visual one that allows the literate and illiterate to participate as equal partners and contribute meaningfully to the discussion.

Each workshop participant is given 10 seeds as voting tokens to be used in prioritizing the needs with a 10-Seed vote. Villagers vote in privacy and place seeds on the illustrations of the identified needs they feel are the most important. They are free to spread their seeds across several needs – or to place all 10 on a single need that is most important to them.

Once all of the individuals have placed their seeds, the participants are asked to discuss the results. The collective tokens will show a prioritization of the needs identified by the community -- by which need has the greatest number of seeds.

The 10 seed technique enables probing deeply into different dimensions of an issue, for carrying out what is referred to as "opening up" the information. This essentially involves going deeper into an issue after starting at the absolute basic level.

For example, after finding out about the health status of a community, one can then go deeper into it to find out reasons for difference, link it with their wealth status and go further into exploring the type of health care each group is able to access. This "opening up" process can continue and find linkages to education level and attitudes.

It is important that the facilitators carrying this out with a positive attitude. This essentially means being open to new perspectives and ideas without pre-assumptions. Success is guaranteed when one develops this ‘listening attitude”. If handled correctly, the exercises will generate animated discussions among the participants.

The "Ten Seed Technique" book is especially written for the use of field and grass roots level staff, but can be used at any level of planning and project design.