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From: Footsteps 47

Understanding and responding to changes in biodiversity

For health or development workers, each day is likely to bring many problems and concerns that need immediate attention. However it is easy to let these immediate problems take over any long term planning. We all need to set priorities in our lives and in our work and try to make sure that these really do ‘take priority’ and take up most of our time. Otherwise we will look back over the past year and realise that we have not helped achieve any practical and long term benefits.

Common interruptions that take our time and attention may include:

Rather than always dealing with the immediate, we all need to ensure we have a long-term vision as well and give this our full attention. Below are some ideas for a meeting that may help participants learn how to effectively set priorities.

Once people have tried these exercises and become familiar with the idea of prioritising, these skills can be used in any situation. Recording information is important for planning. People can list the problems or concerns of the people they work with, or of their organisation, clinic or school, either on their own or in pairs and combine these on a chart, such as the one below. People could then indicate which are the priority concerns. In this example, 25 people were asked to prioritise between three local problems in terms of how common and how serious they were. 

 
The issues with the highest scores indicate the likely priorities for action. But remember, we also need to seek God's priorities too! Share these skills with the wider community and encourage them to prioritise their own concerns.

Adapted from the Resource Manual for the Organisation and Training of Community Health Committees by Keith Wright, produced by UCBHCA, Box 325, Entebbe, Uganda.

Ideas for meetings

Divide people into pairs and read this story aloud.

 

You have just returned from the market and see your house on fire. The entire roof is on fire and there is nothing you can do to save the house. You have just two or three minutes to take out the five things that are most important to you. What would you take out?

  1. Give people a few minutes to decide which five possessions they would take out first.
  2. Ask several pairs to share with the others what items they have chosen.
  3. Then ask each pair to decide which item they would take out first and why?
  4. Explain that they have made a priority list. From all their possessions, they prioritised the five most important. Then they decided on their top priority and gave the reasons for this.

Try repeating this exercise in other ways. Here are some suggested situations.

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