As part of the special 50th edition of PLA notes, the authors reflect on the evolution of PRA from its early days as Rapid Rural Appraisal to its current form as Participatory Learning and Action. The article looks at how criticisms about quality and approach have been incorporated and responded to during the evolution of PLA, as has the increasingly important idea of empowerment. The article also touches on scaling-up participation and the appropriation by some of the ideals by international agencies such as the World Bank. Overall the authors look at the innovating ideals and attitudes that underlie RRA, PRA, PLA, and other embodiments in policy research, learning, participatory governance and rights-based development work. The authors conclude by asking how to recapture the dynamism that gave rise to PRA to inspire a new generation of innovators and pioneers to help meet the challenges that development now faces.
International Institute for Environment and Development