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Participatory Rural Appraisal

This PRA material was developed as a part of Distance Education programme (PGDAEM) offered by the National Institute of Agricultural Extension Management (MANAGE), India, and used by permission by Dr. M.N. Reddy, October 2012.

Participatory Rural Appraisal, PRA, is not a panacea and would not solve all the problems in the world, but it does open up some ways of trying to tackle these challenges (Chambers, 1997). PRA sounds exciting and promising. All those who have used it find it quite fascinating and even addictive. Each application proves to be a unique learning experience. It highlights the need for following an open and flexible approach. More than just a methodology to interact with people and a set of methods, most of the facilitators strive to make PRA and the basic attitudes associated with it-open mindedness, flexibility, giving more opportunities to others to explore themselves, respect for others and their approach to their lives.

A number of methods are in use. New methods and improvisations are being constantly added to the list of the PRA methods. PRA methods can be broadly classified into three categories namely pace, time and relationship methods. Each of the categories in turn has a number of other methods which have their own strengths and limitations.

Even some of the experienced PRA practitioners do not always find the selection of PRA methods for the exercise to be the easy. The first step in the selection of PRA methods is to decide on the dimension you want to study, viz., space, time or relations. This sounds simple, but at times it can prove complicated, particularly in cases where you want to study more than one aspect at the same time, e.g., space and time. You will have to decide which the more important one is.

The second step is to look at the list of methods, particularly the ones that deal with that aspect, and then decide on which methods will best serve your purpose. Finally, you will have to identify one largely depends upon its suitability for your purpose. Various factors, like the types of participants, their educational background, the availability of time with the participants and the facilitators, details aimed at, etc., play a crucial role in selection of the method.

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Related Resources

Mansuri, Ghazala, and Vijayendra Rao. 2013. 
Localizing Development : Does Participation Work? 
Washington, DC: World Bank. DOI: 10.1596/978-0-8213

The Policy Research Report Localizing Development: Does Participation Work? brings analytical rigor to a field that has been the subject of intense debate and advocacy, and billions of dollars in development aid... The review of the evidence looks at a variety of issues: the impact of participatory projects on inclusion, civic capacity, and social cohesion; on key development outcomes, such as income, poverty, and inequality; on public service delivery; and on the quality of local public goods. ...

Andrea Bohn,
Nov 5, 2012, 3:04 PM