Effective health planning requires good quality data, but many health facilities lack the ability to provide this. Health questions often have to be answered within specific research studies. Microcomputers are now generally recommended and used by researchers for data analysis at the end of projects. The article reviews the use of microcomputer based management of data collection during a study. A selection of pojects are described, all of which have used microcomputers in a decentralised fachio, closer to the point of data collection. The main advantages of this approach are a significant reduction in error rates, and the ability to produce data quickly.
Using questionnaires through an existing administrative system: a new approach to health interview surveys
A review of recent developments in health interview procedures within decentralised health planning emphasising the importance of beneficiaries' perceptions of their health problems in the success or failure of primary health care. The methodology used is that of 'indirect' health interviews channelled through existing administrative systems and self-administered by recipients. The article describes ongoing research designed to test this approach in seven African countries and discusses methodological problems and limitations.
Anthropological methods have been introduced into rapid assessment procedures (RAP) for a number of diseases and related health issues. This article discusses the suitability of the approach for health research in countries where tropical diseases are endemic. Adjustments to conventional methods are necessary, given the limited time in the field and the need to ensure the validity and reliability of data. Although rapid assessment has certain shortcomings and does not obviate the need for long-term studies, a mix of research methods, use of multi-disciplinary teams and attention to contradictions within the study population will produce valid data in a relatively short period.
Verbal autopsies are widely used to describe the causes of death in individuals who die outside of hospital or clinic settings, but are seldom validated. The technique assumes that disease which cause death can be easily distinguished from one another by distinct syndromes and that these are reported accurately by lay respondents. The article describes the potential problems of syndrome definition and the likely biases from poor recognition and recall by bereaved relatives; how these might be tested and what can be done when verbal autopsy cannot identify the cause of death.
This book is a guide to a variety of quantitative and qualitative methods for research and practice. It examines the concept of participation and ethical considerations in fieldwork, and stresses methodological pluralism and dialogue in development planning. The main part of the book is devoted to participatory methods. It discusses techniques such as ranking and scoring, mapping and diagrams, and the use of indicators, focus groups and semi- structured interviews in poverty and gender analysis. Participatory monitoring and evaluation and sustainability analysis are also discussed.
The Restoration of a Lake Basin in Mexico and the Regional Social Participatory Process: the Case of ORCA
This booklet systematises 12 years of the work of ORCA (the Riparian Organisation Against Contamination of Lake Patzcuaro), a regional organisation of 23 mainly Indian peasant communities living in Patzcuaro Basin, Mexico, since 1982. It reveals how a well organised and highly motivated regional popular organisation, in collaboration with committed social and natural science researchers, can mobilise local populations to influence local government environmental policies and acquire greater control over the sustainable management of fragile ecosystems such as Lake Patzcuaro.
This is a selection of letters and memos from FAO offices sent in reply to an IDS request for information on the use of PRA in policy research. Most replies indicate little such application of PRA. the last letter, however, concerns the use of PRA in a fisheries programme in Guinea. 45 fisheries department staff were trained in PRA. This resulted in a series of reports, prepared by national staff without requiring any further outside assistance, being one of the reasons why the reports seem to have had an impact on policy decisions at the ministry level.
This paper discusses two related questions: Are research results usable? Are the data actually used in decision-making? Both are determined by the researcher's choice of research methodology. The links between choice of research methodology and the application of results is discussed through a simple conceptual model. A satisfactory link requires a decision to allocate part of research capacity to the evaluation of previous research. To demonstrate the difficulties involved in rigorous analysis, a case study of ten years of research for agricultural development in three East African countries (Uganda, Kenya, Tanzania) is reviewed. Deficiencies in agricultural planning and in applied research for agricultural development are discussed in detail. The causes of ineffective applied research are viewed as lying in scientific culture. An example of applied research with implemented solutions is given, emphasising the benefits of participant research and management procedures for planning.
Implementing Village Resource Development Programmes Through Participatory Rural Appraisal and Planning
This paper concerns PRA capacity building in the implementation and monitoring of the Village Development Programme of Kalam Integrated Development Project (KIDP) in northern Pakistan. It discusses the adoption and institutionalisation of PRA in village planning activities of the programme, which has involved the training of village extensionists to participate in PRA teams. The selection of these persons is discussed. Among the many comments on this innovative approach, the author notes that the pace of adoption has been appropriately slow given the experimental nature of this approach. Developing an understanding of PRA before any field work begins is important, particularly since it differs from conventional prescriptive interventions. Identification of initial activities, and the involvement of women are discussed. The need for caution in developing village action plans is noted, as is the importance of follow -up to PRA activities, particularly as expectations may have been raised. The need for monitoring structures and the possibility of future training are explored.
Successful Approaches to Participatory Research: The Sudan Reforestation and Antidesertification Project
This paper introduces a Government of Sudan project to restore agricultural production and rehabilitate drought affected areas in western Sudan. This is to be done by (i) collecting information on tree and vegetation cover, and (ii) providing assistance to support institutions and communities in forest resource management and conservation. The project's main thrust is a farmer/client -oriented, participatory approach to forestry and research. The organisation of the project and the PRA methods used are outlined, and the activities involved are described in detail. The project involved collaboration between researchers, NGOs and clients (resource users). The advantages and constraints of these linkages are discussed in depth.
This paper describes a project aimed at developing a production technology package for meat and milk goats in Western Kenya, where dual purpose goats (DPGs) are not traditionally raised. Developing an appropriate production system necessitated the characterisation of existing farming systems. The project follows a farming systems approach to research and development. It involved (i) farming systems analysis, (ii) monitoring a limited number of DPGs on farm, and (iii) technical and socio-economic evaluation of technology packages and production systems. The benefits of farmer participation for technology development are examined. The final section discusses collaboration between researchers, government and NGOs.
This excellent paper argues for a contextual grounding for research and development in rangelands. Since R&D is designed to bring about change, how is our understanding of R&D developed, and how is our understanding of 'change' constructed? A distinction is proposed between the perceptions and actions of the researcher. In 'first-order' R&D the researcher remains outside the system studied. This assumes an objective stance and interventions in a closed system. In 'second-order' R&D the action of the researcher is part of the interactions being studied. Perceptions and responsibility are emphasised. The paper focuses on pastoral and agro-ecological applications, but the theory and approach is applicable to other participatory and action based research.
This document addresses the World BankÆs approach to country poverty assessments. It looks at the increasing involvement of stakeholder groups, with the aim of building in-country capacity to address the problems of the poor. With examples from a number of countries, it argues that the participation of government and other institutional stakeholders in all aspects of the work increases sensitivity to poverty issues, enhances analytical skills, and builds allegiance to the measures proposed for poverty reduction. In addition it claims that, conventional statistical analysis is complimented by qualitative information from participatory social assessments, which reveal the concerns voiced by the poor.
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.