It is argued that rural appraisal (talking with local people) needs to be undertaken by sanitary engineers to free them from five types of inhibition: 1) assumptions based on academic subdivisions; 2) the assumption that rural communities have no significant technology of their own; 3) a tendency to overlook opportunities for detailed improvements and go for technological solutions; 4) a failure to recognise the 'invisible' components of local technology - its software and organisational form; 5) assumptions based on professional or western cultural values.
Although this article is dated, it remains important in highlighting the need for scientists and engineers to understand the environment in which they work. The article will be of interest not just to sanitary engineers but anyone wishing to get a flavour of RRA at its embryonic stage.
Rapid Rural Appraisal Workshop
Institute of Development Studies, Brighton, UK