Rapid Rural Appraisal (RRA)

Rapid Rural Appraisal (RRA) emerged in the late 1970s in response to some of the problems with large-scale, structured questionnaire surveys. It provided an alternative technique for outsiders – often scientists carrying out research into agriculture – to quickly learn from local people about their realities and challenges. RRA practitioners worked in multi-disciplinary teams and pioneered the use a suite of visual methods and semi-structured interviews to learn from respondents. While it was largely about data collection, usually analysed by outsiders, RRA contained the seeds from which other PMs grew in the 1980s. Reflections on RRA led to the development of Participatory Rural Appraisal (PRA), which focused more strongly on facilitation, empowerment, behaviour change, local knowledge and sustainable action.

About Participatory Methods

Participatory methods (PMs) include a range of activities with a common thread: enabling ordinary people to play an active and influential part in decisions which affect their lives. This means that people are not just listened to, but also heard; and that their voices shape outcomes.

Researchers, community members, activists and donors all use PMs. Because respect for local knowledge and experience is paramount, the result is interventions that reflect local realities, often leading to better supported and longer lasting social change.

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