In Tanzania, a participatory approach was used to increase community capability to identify poor households and arrange assistance based on community resources. Community-based nutritional status data was used to identify households with severely malnourished children, and community leaders were used to identify poor households. Strengths and weaknesses of participatory methods are discussed with a proposition that their purpose should be community-enabling, rather than only to extract information from communities. The Triple-A cycle developed by UNICEF (Assessment, Analysis and Action) to improve conditions of women and children is adapted to include community assessment, analysis and action. Some case studies from Tanzania are presented with examples from conventional as well as participatory studies.