This is a newsletter which describes the formation of the Midnet PRA group and includes a number of very short articles and thoughts on practitioners experiences with PRA in Southern Africa. Experiences shared include working with young people, in education, with periurban communities, for catchment management and for land reform. The methods used are discussed with details of venn diagrammes for community organisation, historical time lines. There are reports from trainings in Namaqualand and Namibia. The thoughts that emerged from evaluation/ reflection and planning meetings included the ideas of rapid learning and sharing and the need for more training. The final article summarises the PRA and gender workshop held at IIED in December 1993.
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This three day PRA workshop for nine 'Southern' health workers included a field visit to a poor area of Birmingham. Teaching methods (cartoons, slides, role play) in the theoretical sessions are described in detail, together with the trainees' responses. The concluding section makes suggestions on practical aspects of organising a workshop for PRA trainers and reflects on the different experience of doing PRA activities in the 'Northern' and urban context.
This paper argues the case for training in participatory methods for government officials. The "system" in most 'Southern' countries is top-down, with a set of beliefs that "rural people are ignorant". The "built-in features" of the system which follow from these assumptions are listed, with an analysis of "the scope for participation" and the changes implied. Training needs based on these changes are identified and a proposed PRA training programme briefly outlined.
This account gives a student's perspective of the RRA fieldwork exercise described in Howard's article (RRA Training in a US Masters Programme: the Director's View). The fieldwork was carried out in Appalachia, involving painting a guard rail with local women and "interviewing using the RRA approach".
The stated aims of this tool kit and the visual aids it contains are not only to encourage community participation in planning and development, but also to enable field workers to have a visual "spark" which will enable them to work more effectively in the field. It is recognised that many of the activities can be conducted without the prepared materials, ie mapping and ranking on the ground. However, they consider that visuals can help to break barriers, although the danger remains that the process is extractive as the visuals will be removed from the community, or that they are not transferrable between cultures. The introduction describes the materials and their suggested use, as well as a few of the pitfalls associated with such a kit. There are 25 folders, each containing a number of visuals, which are very specific to particular circumstances. These are designed for the excercises which are described in the second part of the instruction book, which indicates purpose, time, audience, materials needed, materials supplied and directions on how to conduct the excercise. The target audience ranges from staff and trainers, to community members
A two day PRA workshop was held for staff and students from the Gandhigram Rural Institute (GRI) in Tamil Nadu, India, together with 60 women members of the village Women's Association. This report describes the PRA training activities carried out in the village, with details of timing, group organisation and methods used. Areas of priority (eg the harijan community) and PRA methods were chosen after discussion of the first day's experience. Evaluation of the workshop and of PRA makes useful suggestions for PRA training.
LEARN (Local Environmental Analysis and assessment of Rural Needs) is a development research approach designed to put people's priorities first, be cost-effective, and tackle rural environmental problems. Though similar to RRA, LEARN differs in that it is concerned with the "interrelationship between the environment and social processes" and distinguishes between outsiders' (etic) and insiders' (emic) knowledge. "Intelligent ignorance", a low profile entrance, selection of informants, observation and open-ended questions are all key to the LEARN approach. Methods used and findings from the Waza Logone region of North Cameroon illustrate how LEARN can help in "preparing research proposals and identifying development opportunities".
A PRA training workshop was organised for staff of Redd Barna-Kenya, held in their project centre. This paper describes how participants were involved in assessing their training needs and deciding upon a training schedule. "An important omission in most PRA training workshops is the necessity of the trainees' participation in the process, as opposed to merely being trained on farmers' participation." The difficulties of running a workshop in the participants' immediate place of work are also discussed.
This handbook goes through the stages of implementing PRA from "getting started" through visits to other projects, to "data gathering, problem analysis, mobilising external support and handling money". Each stage is broken down into suggested activities and illustrated with detailed case-studies. Several sections would make useful training material - for example, internal problems are explored through case-studies of "A Controversial Chief" and "Water and Posho Mills Don't Mix". PRA methods are not described as the emphasis is on PRA as a whole process.
PRA methods and their application to participatory monitoring and evaluation: report on a course held in El Obeid, Sudan
A two week course was held for government and NGO participants in El Obeid, Sudan, to "explore some of the issues around PM&E and introduce a selection of possible PRA methods". This report briefly describes the actual course and analyses certain problem areas that arose - attitude to villagers, use of symbols and the difficulty of focusing on PM&E within a PRA course. Tools found most useful for evaluation were: impact diagrams, impact matrices and evaluation matrices (visual examples of each are given). Participants were asked to give a personal evaluation of the course using symbols only.
This comprehensive collection of papers on PRA would be useful for planning the content of a workshop and putting together background information. The first sections are on Concepts and Principles, followed by a Summary of PRA and RRA Methods. Each main method then becomes a section in itself, beginning with an explanation of the purpose of the method, a list of "do's and don'ts", and containing published articles on issues (eg "Is PRA culturally neutral?" in the section on Semi Structured Interviewing) and case-studies with diagrams. Sections vary in length and variety of material, with semi-structured interviewing, matrix scoring and wealth ranking being particularly well covered. The final section of case-studies contains articles comparing RRA with conventional survey techniques. This collection does not deal with training methodology.
This humorous account describes a field visit with District Officers in India, where the technique of "shoulder tapping" was used to interrupt officers who tried to give advice to the farmers. The actual dialogue shows the way in which the officers' assumptions were challenged by the farmers they met.
The Aga Khan Rural Support Programme (AKRSP) works with village communities in Gujarat State, India. This paper describes how village analysts are trained in participatory appraisal and planning. Details are given on how the training programmes are designed at the village level, with defined stages in the training process. Training leads to a "local cadre of village analysts... who can take up the responsibility of initiating the development process". The constraints of such a process are highlighted. The case is argued for "investing more in training village analysts and trainers as opposed to the development of a body of external professionals who continue to dominate the decision-making process".
A major part of this twelve day workshop was spent in fieldwork, using the PRA techniques (listed in Section II) learnt in theory classes. This report describes in detail the methodology and findings of the field exercises, showing clearly the practical problems encountered (such as how to "reach" the women) as well as the lively and diverse information that can emerge from PRA activities. The fieldwork in Chimontu and Chongwe resulted in two methodological innovations : i) the seasonality analysis of illness was combined with trend analysis to show how illness had changed over ten years ii) the institutional diagram was used to show what the group would like to see in the area. Points about location of fieldwork, timing, structure of training and group composition conclude this report. The appendices include an interesting list of participants' concerns after completing the fieldwork, plus the actual visual results of the PRA activities.
Training Workshop on Participatory Rural and Urban Appraisal Methods for Participatory Poverty Assessment, Ghana
This training workshop was designed to introduce participants to appraisal techniques suitable for use in a Participatory Poverty Assessment study being conducted in Ghana by the World Bank. Written by one of two trainers, the report covers only the rural appraisal methods. The Darko field work section describes in detail the PRA methods, including sequencing, materials used and findings. Gender issues underlie the lively analysis: eg the wealth and well-being ranking shows how differently men and women tackled the activity. The report includes a list of topics covered in the theoretical sessions, comments on logistical problems on the course, and finally highlights the methodological innovations made (well-being ranking being superimposed on wealth ranking and the frequency distribution health matrix).