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From RECL 3P25 Fall 2011 - Group 08 - Participatory Rural Appraisal

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Participatory Rural Appraisal (PRA):

Is a technique used for gathering information on community resources and needs for use in literacy and community development programs.

Primary Background

Participatory Rural Appraisal has several uses and can be applied in several forms. Most commonly it is used by NGOs in rural areas of developing countries where there are language barriers, such as English not being the native language, reducing the effectiveness and ease of verbal communication between facilitators and community members. Other barriers that this technique addresses are low literacy levels amongst participants, because it incorporates the use of visual aids and communication through 'actions' to involve participants and share information rather than using written exercises.

Application and Key Concepts of PRA:


-a method of gathering data about community needs.

-a method of inclusion through getting input and using the knowledge and skills of all community members.

-method of using no verbal communication methods to determine needs and wants of the community members.

-method of creating localization by using by using local resources, materials and people to help work towards community development.

-method of influencing empowerment by encouraging participation and the self sustainability of community development through the active participation and facilitation by community members themselves. Giving citizens the means to take control and ownership for themselves.

Techniques of the PRA Process:

Group Dynamics, eg. learning contracts, role reversals, feedback sessions.

Sampling, eg. transect walks, wealth ranking, social mapping.

Interviewing, eg. focus group discussions, semi-structured interviews, triangulation.

Visualization, eg. venn diagrams, matrix scoring, timelines.

Steps for Implementing PRA:

Step 1: PRA facilitator coordinates meeting.

Step 2: Have a central meeting location and time that everyone in the community is aware of.

Step 3: Have resources available for communication (writing utensils, pictures, diagrams, paper, etc)

Step 4: PRA facilitator guide community meeting to ensure proper use of the technique.

Step 5: Review the collaborated resources.

Technique Strengths:

-Multipurpose technique that can be implemented in different scenarios.

-Addresses the needs of all individuals within the community despite barriers.

-Uses ideas and knowledge of individuals within the community.

-Empowers individuals to take on community stewardship.

-Creates mutual respect among community members.

-It is a process that is meant to take an extended length of time in order to ensure that goals are being achieved, (thorough).

Technique Weaknesses:

-Broad technique

-Requires cooperation from all members within the community.

-Generally not used in developed countries.

-Hard concept to grasp.

-No formal follow up method.

-Risks of facilitator trying to be overly influential and involved in the process.

Tips for Successful Implementation:

-Use of Diagrams.

-Use of Translator.

-Gather input from ALL community members.

-Have tools (diagrams, drawing utensils) prepared upon implementation.

-Take time to evaluate and observe the community before implementing the technique.

History of PRA - Secondary Background

-There is no true standard outline for the PRA process because it is so broad and can target an entire community, stakeholders, or other small groups in a community. PRA is very much a technique for NGO's to implement over several months to help small communities review their socio-economic situations, needs, action plans and evaluate and reflect on the process of gathering community resources and working towards the target of community development.

- Originated in South East Asia and East Africa and involves research about participation that was developed in the 1940's.

-There are five traditional influences:

--> activist participatory research

--> argo-ecosystem analysis

--> field research on farming

--> Applied anthropology

--> and Rapid Rural Appraisal

-Strongly liked to Rapid Rural Appraisal (RRA)-'A quick way of doing a wide range evaluation of a group being studied'- but PRA focuses more on participation and involvement of community member. Instead of just gathering information PRA focuses of having communities implement what is identified in the evaluation process.

-The technique was established and recognized in the late 1980s, although the framework for this process had begun in early - mid 1980s

-The founder of this technique is Robbert Chambers

Reasons For Implementation

-Helps address lack of participation and communication in communities

-Identifies needs of the community members

-For community development primarily in rural communities, mostly in developing nations.


Bhandari, B.B. (2003) Module 4: Participatory rural appraisal. Institute for Global Environmental Strategies, 1-22. Retrieved November 22, 2011, from

Lian, G., Guo, X., FU, B.J., Wang, J. & He, T. (2007). Farmer's perception and response towards land policy and eco-environment based on participatory rural appraisal: A case study in the Loess hilly area, China. International Journal of Sustainable Development & World Ecology, 14()2, 182-191

Linde, R. (1997). Participatory rural appraisal beyond rural settings:A critical assessment from the nongovernmental sector. Knowledge & Policy 10(1/2), 56-70

Maalim, A. D., (2006). Participatory rural appraisal techniques in disenfranchised communities: A Kenyan case study. International Nursing Review 53(3), 178-188

Muller, J. G., Assanov, I. H. B., Guimbo, I. D.& Almedom, A. M. (1010) Evaluationg rapid participatory rural appraisal as an assessment of ethnoecological knowledge and local biodiversity patters. Conservation Biology 24(1), 140-150

Okech, S. H., Gaidashova, S.V., Gold, C.S., Nyagahungu, I. & Musumbu, J. T. (2005). The influence of socio-economic and marketing factors on banana production in Rwanda: Results from a Participatory Rural Appraisal. International Journal of Sustainable Development & World Ecology 12(2), 149-160

External Links

[1]Participatory rural appraisal: A brief introduction

[2]Robert Chambers (Development Scholar) Wikipedia Page

[3] Participatory Rural Appraisal Wikipedia Page

[4] Module 4: Participatory Rural Appraisal. Institute for Global Environmental Strategies

[5] International Institute for Sustainable Development (Participatory Rural Appraisal)

[6] Rapid Rural Appraisal (RRA)

[7] Participatory Processes Video


Candice Murray, Elizabeth Van De Walker, Ethan Henry, Hailey Sanders, Kaitlin Ritchie, Katrina Komar

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