Rather than challenging the universal validity of PRA, this discussion paper focuses on the practical task of "doing PRAs" in a new and alien context. The authors advocate the acknowledgement and acceptance of local cultural trends, power relations and structures of authority when undertaking participatory research. This will allow to work with, rather than around these factors. Hence, the proposed "Vietnamisation" of PRA so as to allow local voices to shape the values and techniques of PRA itself. But, just how Vietnamised can PRA become until it comes into conflict with international liberal PRA values? This broad discussion originated in a workshop organised in Hanoi on Community Research Methods in February and March 1996. The issues covered by the paper include: introducing PRA and PRA values in Vietnamese communities, gender, local leadership and dominance; and international donors and PRA. Methodological issues covered are: sampling, recording of research information, interviews, focus group discussions and mapping.
This paper raises issues around PRA as an empowering process. For the poor, product matters more than process and "it is the functional, material gain which is the entry point, not the empowerment". PRA can be seen as "Orwellian manipulation" from the point of view of "elaborate processes imposed to secure participation". In practice, those "least familiar with Western cultural processes will be the most excluded and manipulated" - usually the women of a community. Any approach or technique has "differing meanings in differing geographical, cultural and temporal contexts", so PRA should also be seen as "context limited and context enhanced".
This article is a case study of the author's participatory research with the Annette Lomond garment workers' co-operative in the North East of England. It discusses the relationship between the researcher and the participants, power imbalances, accountability, empowerment, effects of the research project, and presentation of findings. She concludes that the aim of uniting research with action and education is not always possible within one project. This alters the balance of the relationship and the nature of accountability.
This short article discusses the gender implications of the REFLECT adult literacy methodology. In REFLECT literacy circles provide a space where a topic of interest to both women and men is analyzed in an open-ended but well focused discussion, rooted in their own experiences. An evaluation of the three pilots of the REFLECT methodology which are being carried out in Uganda, Bangladesh and El Salvador found encouraging first results. Women reported being treated with more respect by men because they are attending literacy circles. In some cases this led to greater involvement in discussion and decision-making, increased mobility and more sharing of domestic work between women and men.
This article explores constraints encountered when using PRA on an ODA-funded natural resources project in a tribal area of Western India. It was particularly evident that women's participation in the PRAs was minimal. The reasons for this were practical (women were not available collectively for long periods of time & there were few women fieldworkers as the project had just begun), social (PRA activities tended to take place in public places where women felt awkward) and methodological (women respond to PRA activities in different ways, sometimes feeling bored and "communicating by singing instead"). The author argues that an organised PRA "gives privilege to certain kinds of knowledge and representation and suppresses others" : the emphasis given to formal knowledge and activities tends to "reinforce the invisibility of women's roles". However, once the formal and public nature of PRA is perceived as a problem, it can become a means by which "women's knowledge and activities.. can be transferred from the informal to the formal arena of project planning", thereby increasing women's profile. Suggestions for encouraging women's participation in PRA include: making non-public contexts (since women are more used to the "private sphere"), using women's knowledge and ways of communicating (songs, sayings, proverbs). There are constraints: the "production of observable outputs (maps, diagrams of PRA) have more status for fieldworkers" than scribbled songs or informal interview notes and women's expressed needs (eg a flour mill) "don't fit easily into established categories of natural resource development".
This book describes a grassroots approach to empowering people for democratic social change. It explains participatory research using exemplarly case studies on community organizing, femist theory and ecological movements from a range of locations in North America. It challenges the relevance and validity of academic social science research.
This paper explores the potentials and limits of REFLECT, with particular reference to its piloting in Bundibugyo, Uganda. Issues examined include, post-literacy support and the language barriers experienced by newly-literates. The paper argues that since the present REFLECT programme in Bundibugyo leans more towards the methodology and ethics of PRA, it holds less opportunity for Freirean conscientization.
Brief note on results of internal evaluation regarding the use of PRA by The Community Action Programme in Uganda. In the programme trained community facilitators used PRA techniques with partner communities to develop micro-projects. The report outlines some of the short-comings of the facilitation process based on the results of a survey of a random sample of the partner communities. The survey examined, attendance by men and women of PRA sessions, PRA tools remembered by participants and aspects learnt, the relationship between men and women's main problems and the final choice of micro-project and their level of agreement with it.
This video provides a good introduction to the potential benefits of PRA in implementing projects which benefit those normally excluded by conventional approaches. It contains interesting interviews with villagers who had previously participated in a PRA process. It also uses dramatised scenes to emphasise aspects of PRA, mostly concerning behaviour and attitudes. Which scenes have been scripted is sometimes confusing. Key points made are that marginalised people are usually not reached by conventional development approaches (03, 05, 30). The attitudes and behaviour of development workers and academics contributes to this (13, 37). PRA facilitates outsiders learning from villagers (08, 18) and overcomes conventional biases (34, 38). This is shown through the experience of Paraikulan villagers who worked with an NGO, SPEECH, to reclaim barren land. The outputs of PRA methods shown include mapping (19), wealth ranking (25), seasonality analysis (26), matrix ranking of problems (28), oral history (29), and Venn diagrams (32). Women were included in village development activities, through literacy classes and increased access to agricultural inputs (34). Villagers reflect on the subsequent activities to reclaim barren land and its impact on their lives (42), both in terms of production and increased confidence (44). A resident of another villager reports that the experience of Paraikulan set an example for other villagers (46).
This paper analyses the different approaches taken by three NGOs working in Bhutanese refugee camps in Nepal, to incorporate women and refugees into their organizational structures. The impacts the different strategies had on both programme activities and women are examined.
The widespread uptake of participatory approaches has created a need to assess more critically if the work is benefitting women and men equally. Community differences are simplified, power relationships poorly understood and conflicts avoided or ignored. The contributors to this book provide an overview of issues and lessons, theoretical reflections, practical experiences and examples of how organizations are attempting to integrate gender into the participatory process.
Participatory programme learning for women's empowerment in micro-finance programmes : negotiating complexity, conflict and change.
Micro-finance programmes are currently promoted as strategies for both alleviating poverty and also empowering women. However, a number of recent academic studies have questioned the benefits of such programmes for women. Given the need to examine their gender impact, this paper proposes an alternative to the traditional costly quantitative and qualitative impact studies. A participatory approach is proposed which integrates empowerment concerns with ongoing programme learning, which in itself contributes to empowerment.