Participatory methodologies and participatory practices: accessing PRA use in the Gambia

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This research examines the conduct and consequences of the use of participatory rural appraisal techniques in four rural development projects in The Gambia. It includes a review of literature on PRA and the identification of a series of themes that allow for an assessment of PRAÆs usefulness. The fieldwork in The Gambia included reviews of project documentation, key informant interviews, and periods of village-based research using PRA methods. The main research findings were that PRA has had some positive effects, particularly in motivating rural development workers, and generating a spirit of enquiry. There are a number of concerns, however: whether these can be maintained over the longer term; data quality, cost-effectiveness and high transaction costs of PRA use; the idealisation of the nature of æcommunityÆ and a bias towards the literate; little evidence that PRA is effective in empowering the poor or challenging long-term power relations. The main policy implications that arise from this are, firstly, although methodological instruments like PRA have some potential for capacity building in development organisations and communities, institutional structures and relationships are likely to be more important. Secondly, practitioners need to acknowledge the limitations of PRA as an analytical tool as its capacity to relate norms and values to other variables in the social system appears very limited. Thirdly, PRA can help engender greater community participation in development, but it is necessary to guard against the substitution of tools and methods for more concerted efforts at changing social relationships.

Source publication information
ODI AgREN Network paper no. 124
17 p.
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Shelfmark in IDS Resource Centre
A : Participatory Approaches : General 4743
Post date: 04/03/2012 - 00:00