The Communication Centre at Queensland University of Technology is currently developing a programme to "plan ecologically sustainable development strategies with the aid of advanced technologies such as interactive multimedia". An action learning framework, using methods similar to PRA such as focus groups and semi-structured interviewing, is used to involve the community in planning new facilities. Other methods are more computer-based, such as "audit trails" which are "self-measurements and records that the computer compiles which map out the different pathways users take through a multimedia display".
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This paper describes the methodology used for Cresswell's "PRA Investigation into the Health and Social Needs of People Living in Danesmoor". The project took 34 days to complete, consisting of 54 individual interviews, two group interviews and eight groups of school children. The PRA approach is described, outlining its relevance to the work with this community in the UK. PRA methods used are listed with their application in "community assessment of health and social needs as undertaken in Danesmoor". Implications for professionals working in the area are considered and the future potential use of PRA explored. Further research is suggested around why there is poor uptake of certain key services.
Participatory Rapid Appraisal: An Investigation into the Health and Social Needs of People Living in Danesmoor - Volume 1
The aim of this study was to identify the health and social problems in relation to Danesmoor, an area in North Derbyshire with high unemployment. PRA techniques were used to collect qualitative information from three main sources : key community people, community members, professionals working in the area. Questions were asked regarding people's perceptions of the area, the health and social problems, existing care service provision and "magic wand" - "within reason what would benefit individuals, families and the community as a whole". This report presents the findings under the groups of people interviewed (eg single mothers, children, health visitors, doctors, playgroup leader), giving direct quotations and their suggested magic wand solution to the problems. Lack of communication and coordination between various service providers is identified as a key issue. Finally an "overall magic wand" (solution to common problems) and a plan of action were made.
Unemployment and health: the development of the use of PRA in identified communities in Staveley, North Derbyshire
This study in Staveley, an area with high unemployment, aimed to: i) identify & enable people to address the personal risk factors for cardio-vascular diseases ii) enable unemployed workers to discuss health difficulties specific to unemployment iii) promote a greater understanding of the specific health needs of unemployed people Unemployed people and 200 children were interviewed, then key people in the professions of education, health, social services, police, clergy and housing. Video, photos and mapping were used and people "had an opportunity to test their own health by filling in a health profile questionnaire". The various groups' different perceptions of the problems and suggested solutions are analysed. There is a need for "an informed, integrated, inter-agency approach with the involvement of unemployed people in order to respond effectively to the problems of unemployment".
RRAs were conducted in two local Landcare areas of Australia by the students and staff of Charles Sturt University-Riverina. The ethos of Landcare is based on "groups of people who work together to care for the land in their local area" and it was felt that a PRA/RRA approach might provide a solution to the problems faced by Landcare committees and extension workers. The paper describes the organisation and methods of the RRAs from data collection phase through to data analysis and feedback to participants. "Successful team building and goal setting" were seen as the key processes in doing an RRA. A discussion of the adaptation and applicability of the RRA methodology to the Australian context, including "institutional barriers to an RRA approach", concludes the paper.
Runoff and other issues of concern affecting people in The Rock: a study for the Flowerpot Hill Landcare Group
Charles Sturt University was approached to help implement a community survey for the Flowerpot Hill Landcare group (FHLG). This group was formed to control run-off water which damaged town property. The information gained from interviews with members of the group, residents, farmers and council members, is presented as "issues" (specific knowledge, problems or feelings expressed by individuals) and "themes" (generally agreed important areas of concern). The themes included "Whose problem is it?", "Who should fix it?" and "Who should pay?" A number of solutions were proposed, with many people expressing a "deep suspicion of quick-fix solutions which the council was often accused of implementing". Recommendations from the study are around "establishing common ground in perception/problem solving and trying to get people committed to working together to improve the situation".
The Highlander Center, a non-profit adult education centre in Tennessee, is working in three rural communities where unemployment has been growing. Their role is "not to create jobs or development, but to help the community undertake a process of education and participatory research through which they could assess their own situation, define and implement strategies for themselves". This article describes briefly the methods used, such as oral histories, community mapping and drawings, videos and community theatre.
The Meadowell Estate in North Tyneside was described as a "disaster area, top of the league for crime, vandalism, drug abuse and despair". A facilitator was brought in by the Department of the Environment to help Meadowell residents to evolve their own Plan of Action and to develop the skills they needed. This report describes the whole process of community planning and implementation from 1988 - 91. The participatory methods used are described in detail and examples of materials illustrated. House-to-house surveys using Neighbourhood Talent sheets revealed human resources available locally, then groups ranked their suggested projects in priority using cards. A "Planning for Real" pack took groups through the stages of planning, assessing training needs and finding financial resources. The initial result was a 78% drop in crime and many "self-propelled" community projects. Other resident groups demanded similar planning exercises. A "working relationship between Us and Them (the council)" has now been established, suggesting benefits will be sustained in the long term.
Planning for Real is a set of community-building tools which has been developed over the last 20 years, first in the UK, then in various parts of Europe and the US, and currently on trial in parts of Africa, India, South-East Asia and Latin America. The article focuses on the use of the method in urban areas where all sense of community has been lost, and where there is profound mutual distrust between the residents and the local officials. Planning for Real allows people to explore possibilities, sort out options, rank priorities, share out responsibilities and set out a plan of action. It is also a strategy designed to establish common ground between 'Us' and 'Them' as a basis for a combined operation to create a working neighbourhood.
RRA techniques are taught as part of the three month course on "Rural Research and Rural Policy" at the Institute of Development Studies, UK. This article describes two exercises that were introduced to provide practical "field" experience: an RRA of IDS and a visit to a local farm. Most of the course participants were from 'Southern' countries and the "individual exercises were conducted almost exactly as they would be in a Third World village". The differences between conducting the farm study in 'Northern' and 'Southern' countries are briefly mentioned - including the fee paid to the "Northern" farmer!
A training programme for GTZ staff ("to let them have a taste for real life application of PRA techniques") focused on an area of the Austrian Alps undergoing rapid change due to tourism and infrastructure development. The "learning insights" from doing this exercise in the North are summarized as twelve points suggesting how PRA can help in 'Northern' countries and how PRA training in the North for aid personnel can be more effective than if held in 'Northern' countries. Advantages cited include : "the transfer of a number of critical insights from the First to the Third World and vice versa" and greater involvement and awareness of the ethical issues around research when using one's own language and cultural context.
The aims of this study were to assess the effectiveness of using PRA methods in the context of rural development forestry in Scotland, and to investigate the potential for using PRA techniques in natural resource management in the region in the future. The fieldwork was carried out in four villages in rural areas of Scotland: Borve in the Isle of Skye; Tomintoul in the north-east; Laggan in the Central Highland region; and Carsphairn in the south-west. In the main part of the study PRA methodology is discussed and the four case studies and their findings are presented. The advantages and disadvantages of using PRA methods are also assessed. The study concludes that PRA can work in Scotland, and has the potential to play a useful role in promoting local participation and empowering people to take more control over situations which affect their lives.
This eight day workshop on PRA integrated practical community placements in Guelph to provide use for the techniques acquired during the theoretical sessions. The report highlights constraints around timing and venue when organizing a workshop in a 'Northern' country, and gives ideas for fieldwork.
A training centre for extension workers in the Emmental region of Switzerland "took on an initiative in RRA". The team consisted of twelve people from different backgrounds, five of whom were from 'the "outside" with experience in 'Southern' countries. This article describes in detail the programme, highlighting methods specific to this 'Northern' context (for example, using the telephone book to locate farms). Certain methods, such as visualization through using cards on pinboards, were already familiar as an established method of Swiss extension. "Mind mapping for setting up a motivation system" for the RRA as a whole proved useful for recruiting more team members and informing local journalists. The effect of having an outsider (who did not speak the local language) on the team was felt to be very positive - he could ask "silly questions" and "perceive things in an 'outlandish' way".
As part of the Scottish programme, four case studies were undertaken, partly to examine the current situation with regard to forestry, and partly to pioneer the use of PRA tools in Scotland, though at this stage in a very extractive manner. In Tomintoul, the focus is on tourism due to its location in the Cairngorms region of Scotland. The changes in employment over time reflect an increase in services and a decrease in farming. Linkages between organizations are examined, again reflecting the importance of tourism, and social, land use and tenure maps are reproduced. Forestry, as a major land use is significant - although it is currently concentrated on private and forestry commision estates.