This opens with a lengthy discussion on the evolution of PRA, and the possible role that PRA and participation in general has to play in development, in particular the role of the outsider. During fieldwork for a short course, the island of Great Bernera, off Stornaway in the Outer Hebrides was visited by 6 students and 'facilitators'. They spent three days examining the applicability of PRA, both in the 'Northern' context and as a technique for going in cold to a new area. This was not a PRA, as such, as it was a finite training exercise. Although a lot was learnt, on both sides, in the few days, it was concluded that PRA has only limited application in new situations, where it should be handled very carefully. Most methods were considerer 'culturally' acceptable, but there was felt to be some problems with, for example, seasonal calenders, as seasons were not important considerations to the people.
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The purpose of the paper is to highlight what aspects of PRA have been covered in manuals and identify gaps. Each review covers the target group, content and tools/ techniques. The potential application of each manual has also been considered. The language style is indicated - whether the text is simple, user frendly or complex and scientific. Comments on the manual are included which illustrate the emphasises placed on different aspects, and strengths and weaknesses of the manual.
A small group of PRA practitioners and trainers met to discuss their experiences in the use of PRA. One of the areas of concern identified was the quality of PRA training and practice, given the growing demand by funding agencies for "a PRA" to be conducted, and the rapid expansion in the use of PRA. Several areas are identified within which it is felt that there is potential for improvement. These are: personal and professional approaches to PRA and development; interactions with communities in terms of ethics, equity, preconditions for engagement, practice and local human resource support/ development; institutional aspects such as long term commitment, organisational environment, institutional management, incentives, organisational procedures and outward linkages; training quality (compared to PRA orientation); and networking/ information sharing. The final table indicates some symptoms of poor PRA.
This is a midterm participatory evaluation report of a watershed programme in Tiruchirappalli, South India. The project used PRA techniques (integrated with other methods) in the planning and impact evaluation stages. The report includes a detailed background to the programme and quantitative findings. No detail is given on how the PRA activities were carried out as the emphasis is on the information collected, including case-studies on the impact on women's status.
A workshop was held on AKRSP's experience with Participatory Rural Appraisal and Planning (PRAP). The background papers explain how PRAP was developed from RRA, and became integral to project planning. Details of PRAP methodology, organisation and reporting systems are given and a typical four day PRAP described. The report of the workshop gives more detail of planning and conducting PRAP exercises, discussing specific PRA methods like transects. Training strategies are analysed and the annexures include a list of proposed indicators of a good PRAP.
The Changing Roles of NGOs in the Field of Education (in the context of changing relationships with the state)
Case-studies of basic education programmes in El Salvador, Bangladesh, India and Uganda illustrate how NGOs can operate in relation to Government. ActionAid, a British NGO, is now piloting the use of PRA and visual "symbol cards" within literacy programmes. The Bundibugyo project in Uganda is described in detail to show how a literacy curriculum can be developed through PRA techniques, introducing key words through activities such as construction of a health calendar. NGOs can thus have a role in the field of education if they produce "well-documented and systematised action-research", rather than the "uncomfortable role of service delivery".
This manual has been developed for facilitators working on ActionAid's pilot literacy programme on Bhola Island, Bangladesh. PRA activities are used to stimulate discussion and introduce opportunities for using literacy and numeracy skills. A socio-mathematical survey was conducted in the area to determine the kinds of mathematics that should be covered. Many activities are around ActionAid's savings and credit programme. The twenty-nine units use PRA methods such as social mapping, resource mapping, work calendars, well-being ranking, health matrices and chapati diagrams, to introduce the key words or numeracy point. Each unit covers questions for discussion, how to teach the key word and how to carry out the PRA activity. The appendices include illustrated examples of PRA activities, details of the facilitators' training programme, indicators for monitoring progress and ideas for post literacy.
This manual has been developed for facilitators working on ActionAid's pilot literacy programme in Bundibugyo, Uganda. Following on from the Freirian model of literacy teaching, the programme has introduced PRA techniques to strengthen the discussion stage. Rather than having a literacy primer, the course is based on thirty units each of which uses a specific PRA technique (eg Hungry Season Calendar) together with visual "symbol cards" to generate discussion. Each unit includes an information section (eg how to build a maize store) and details on how to teach the key word. Practical teaching tips, such as timing and what to do about drop-outs, are covered as well as the theoretical questions, what is literacy? and why teach literacy? The appendices include illustrated examples of PRA activities and "symbol cards", ideas for post literacy, indicators for monitoring progress and criteria for recruiting facilitators.
Two RRAs, each lasting five days, were carried out in two villages in the North of Cameroon, a CARE Canada project area. LEARN (Local Environmental Analysis and Assessment of Rural Needs) type of RRA was used to focus on the environmental problems. None of the team had used LEARN in the field, so this was very much a training exercise, with an honest account of failings as well as successes. A checklist covering "what needs to be known", "indicators" and "methods to be used" formed the basis for guiding activities, choosing respondents and topics of discussion. Field activities are described in detail, and methods (especially interviewing techniques) analysed. Specific characteristics of LEARN are evaluated, as well as the "reliability and representativeness" of the information gained. Findings of the research are given in sections 6 - 12 : sections 1 - 4 are devoted to methodology and training aspects.
PRA activities were conducted in Gujarat with a group of village women whilst men observed in the background. The women counted the number of families in each caste and the class-wise distribution of farmers, then used circles to construct a chart showing their debts. Finally, they estimated how many hours they spent on various activities each day, using twigs on a chart. This report is written as dialogue between the participants so shows clearly how activities were introduced and discussed.
The author describes problems encountered while supervising an on-farm research project in S.W. Nigeria. Her task of "testing" alley farming under field conditions was made particularly difficult as there was no word to describe "alley" in the local language. She devised solutions to these communication problems by involving a primary school in a drama production called the "fertiliser bush". Dialogue is given to show how concepts, such as poor production related to soil quality, could be put across easily through theatre.
This concise list of practical hints for running a short workshop which does not include fieldwork is intended for numbers of up to 180 people. The 21 tips cover every aspect, general (eg choosing a room, seating arrangements) as well as ideas for sessions on specific PRA techniques (though a basic knowledge of PRA terminology/concepts is assumed). Chambers ends with an amusing list of his own common mistakes, emphasizing the need for trainers to be critically self-aware and "fail forwards".
Instructions are given on how to form groups under the following headings: random (groups), pre-allocated, mixed, homogenous, self-selected, formed through moving on. Plus and minus points for each method of group formation are noted, as well as any "tips" around logistics.
This report of a six day training course in Bihar, India, was dictated by one of the trainers as the course took place. The account reads like a personal journal, giving an impression of the process of training and how ideas evolve through practice. Details given include: group dynamics (how to cope with PRA "sceptics"), timing, organisation and methodological innovations made. Lessons learnt through mistakes are well-documented and problems highlighted, such as how to ensure minority groups participate fully.
Recent Developments in Rural Appraisal: from Rapid to Relaxed and Participatory: Notes for a Workshop
This comprehensive article traces the roots of PRA, describing PRA as a "confluence" of the following approaches : activist participatory research, agroecosystem analysis, applied anthropology, field research on farming systems and rapid rural appraisal. The descriptions of these theories highlight the similarities with PRA and lead to a definition of PRA principles, a menu of methods and the six "discoveries" or advantages of PRA over other approaches. Practical application of PRA techniques in natural resources, agriculture, health and equity programmes is shown through numerous case-studies. The possible dangers of PRA and future challenges are explored. Finally PRA is set in the context of a general shift in paradigms in the fields of science, management and development. The appendix lists sources of information about field experiences and training opportunities, including addresses. Other sections within this collection of Notes for a Workshop, include : 'deliberately crude sheets' showing how to do various PRA techniques, articles on 'giving villagers credit for their work' and on the 'shoulder tapping' technique, a paper by Chambers on 'Rapid and Participatory Appraisal for Health and Nutrition' and an excellent list of PRA sources (including videos and by sector).