This paper outlines how PRA can be of value to the policy making process by drawing on practical examples from around the world. The paper argues that not only is PRA important in providing poor people with a voice but that it can also challenge the perceptions, behaviours and attitudes of those in authority. The paper warns of the dangers of rapid scaling up of PRA.
This paper describes work carried out by ActionAid in Vietnam on poverty identification and programme interventions which have been designed in response. A wealth-ranking exercise led to the production of village ranking lists, which highlighted significant socio-economic differences between the villagers. Some of the difficulties encountered in using the method as the basis for planning interventions are also discussed.
The study analyses a research and development project targeting poor farmers that is being implemented in southern Vietnam. The paper is neither a summary of findings nor a report on project activities. Rather, the focus of the paper is to reflect on issues which emerged as relevant in poverty alleviation, but which are generally ignored or forgotten in reports on development projects. The study highlights how different actors speak subjectively about poverty, and how images of the poor farmer are generated in rural development discourse.
Report of a PRA workshop on poverty alleviation Chuluut Sum, Arkhangai Aimag, Mongolia, 28-30 August 1995
The report describes a two-and-a-half day workshop on PRA and poverty alleviation in Mongolia. The workshop focused on issues of local poverty and introduced PRA techniques as a means to identifying causes and potential solutions. It also provided a discussion forum for the exchange of ideas between sum officials, bag governors, representatives of herders and sum centre poor, and outsiders. A brief introduction to participation and PRA and its context in Mongolia was followed by a poverty analysis exercise to establish the local situation. Various PRA techniques were introduced - semi-structured interviewing, mapping, matrix scoring, seasonal calendars and daily activities. The final sessions introduced the SWOT analysis and planning methodology (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats) to bring the focus from general analysis to planning.
This article presents a critique of an agency study which used rapid research methods to investigate the role and consequences of structural adjustment programmes and the introduction of a multi-party system in Tanzania. The authors compare the findings of the agency study to their own village-level studies. They argue that the genuinely poor were not included in the analysis by the agency study team, thereby casting doubt on the study's provisional findings that 'trade liberalization has been good for rural people'. They suggest that special efforts need to be made to ensure that 'the unseen and unknown' come to the fore when using rapid research methods.
Using participatory methods to understand gender differences in perceptions of poverty, well-being and social change: people's perspective from a village in Ghana
This paper presents a case study of a village in Ghana where PRA methods were used to explore gender differences in perceptions of well-being and poverty, the impact of poverty on women and men, and the implications for economic and social change. The exercise revealed the heterogeneity of concerns within the community and within households. PRA methods were found to be effective in eliciting people's own perceptions of intra-household relations and the gender differentiated impact of poverty.
See also author's paper of same title (1993).
This report examines poverty in relation to community forestry and dairy development. The initial section discusses the background to the study and the methods used. The emphasis is on PRA, with checklists developed and lists of tools identified. The four different communities are described, and although the subsequent analysis is sectoral, the differences between the four communities are highlighted. There are numerous case studies interspersed in the text. Forestry and Dairy are two areas where there have been many active interventions in the past, and the aim of the study was to give people a voice in what they felt about these interventions. These subjects are therefore dealt with in great detail, including an analysis of recent changes related to the projects. Issues around education, democracy and gender are also explored in depth. The final section outlines proposed new indicators of poverty which the researchers feel to be more appropriate, and recommendations for the future measurement of poverty alleviating interventions.
This report on poverty is split into two main sections. The first deals with the background, the methodology used (predominantly PRA) and the field locations. The second focuses in detail on the findings of these PRA exercises. The emphasis throughout is on local perceptions of poverty and local priorities, and one of the main tools used was priority ranking. Variation between rural and urban, men and women and by generation were also uncovered. Changes in poverty over time, both by season and through history, were examined, to discuss survival strategies and coping mechanisms as well as local peoples perceptions of services. Throughout, there are numerous case studies, and the executive summary at the front of the document highlights the key policy implications.
This research into urban poverty in Zambia was conducted using 'participatory urban assessment', as part of a Copperbelt Urban Livelihoods Project. The rationale and the approach used are discussed in the first section, before looking in greater detail at the specific activities and tools. The bulk of the report is a presentation of the findings of participatory appraisals in two compounds. These are intended as case studies, and will be used as the basis for project proposals. The findings are given in detail, with many diagrams drawn by people from the compounds reproduced. Time lines examine the history of the compounds, seasonal calendars deal with agricultural production and there are mapping and matrices. The final part of each study is wealth ranking, which leads on to detailed case studies of members of the different community groupings identified and their different coping mechanisms and potential strategies.
This document is a detailed account of six poor women collected using a variety of PRA methods, viz., time lines, wealth mapping, pocket chart voting, seasonality diagrams among others. The nature, causes and the extent of poverty as perceived by these six poor women and the actions taken by them to cope with poverty are described at great length. The report makes more broad as well as specific policy recommendations to reduce poverty. The report includes annexes with tables and diagrams.