This paper discusses the methods of collecting information in a field study carried out in Salvador da Bahia (Brazil) a suburb of Salvador. The study was part of a training exercise for students of the "International Course for Primary Health Care Managers at District Level in Developing Countries" based in Italy. The study also aimed to explore the potential for Primary Environmental Care and identify ways by which the local health district could support squatter communities. A rapid appraisal was carried out in three squatter communities. Secondary data was analysed, life history interviews were conducted, a "risk map" was drawn in which local participants geographically located problems, focus groups and ranking, key informant interviews, ten institutions with an interest in environmental issues were interviewed, and a feed-back meeting was held for all community members. It is concluded that RRA is well suited to study fast-changing environments, a potential danger of the exercise is taken to be undue expectation-raising of the local community. Finally "microplans" are introduced as a possible means of making RRA action oriented. Five pages are devoted to illustrations arising from the exercises.
This article will be of interest to health providers working in an urban environment. The main focus is on the methodologies employed rather than specific findings.