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Participatory rural appraisal (PRA)

Participatory rural appraisal (PRA): PRA refers to a growing family of participatory approaches and methods that emphasize local knowledge and enable local people to make their own appraisal, analysis, and plans. PRA uses group animation and exercises to facilitate information sharing, analysis, and action among stakeholders. Although originally developed for use in rural areas, PRA has been employed successfully in a variety of settings. The purpose of PRA is to enable development practitioners, government officials, and local people to work together to plan context appropriate programs.

Participatory rural appraisal evolved from rapid rural appraisal—a set of informal techniques used by development practitioners in rural areas to collect and analyze data. PRA is an exercise in communication and transfer of knowledge. The learning-by-doing and teamwork spirit of PRA requires transparent procedures. For that reason, a series of open meetings (an initial open meeting, final meeting, and follow-up meeting) generally frame the sequence of PRA activities. Other tools common in PRA are:

  • Semi-structured interviewing 
  • Focus group discussions 
  • Preference ranking 
  • Mapping and modeling 
  • Seasonal and historical diagramming.

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