Participatory rural appraisal (PRA): challenges, potentials and paradigm

Publication year: 

This paper is the third in a three-part series examining participatory rural appraisal. It reviews some of the practical and theoretical questions which have been raised as the spread of PRA accelerates. PRA approaches and methods are analysed in terms of how they have spread, quality assurance, dangers, potentials and strategies, and paradigmatic significance. Rapid spread has made quality assurance a concern, with dangers from "instant fashion", rushing, formalism and ruts. Promising potentials include farmers' own farming systems research, alternatives to questionnaire surveys, monitoring, evaluation and lateral spread by local people, empowerment of the poorer and weaker, and policy review. Changes in personal behaviour and attitudes, and in organisational cultures, are implied. PRA parallels and resonates with paradigm shifts in the social and natural sciences, in business management and development thinking.

Interest groups: 
This article will be useful for theorists and practitioners interested in the development and continuing evolution of PRA, particularly those concerned with "quality assurance" in PRA practice, and change in organisational cultures.
Source publication information
Journal Title: 
World Development
Vol. 22, no.10

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Shelfmark in IDS Resource Centre
A : Participatory Approaches : General 543