Previous Page Table of Contents Next Page

10. Training module on PRA tools

The selection and use of training tools must match the training needs and type of training.

The major challenges are:

a) sensitization to bring about attitudinal and behavioural change; and

b) using participatory techniques to build rapport, elicit support, information and participation of the people in their own development.

Importance of participatory techniques

Participatory rural appraisal

Participatory rural appraisal (PRA) is a methodology to enhance

  1. the development agent’s understanding of the rural reality for the planning and development of projects; and

  2. the feeling of a greater degree of ownership and responsibility in the rural poor for better results and social acceptance of the programme.

The effectiveness of participatory approaches has led donors, government organizations and NGOs to use PRA in their programmes. Participatory training is based on the belief that

Aims of participatory methods

Different participatory methods are used for different ends. Sometimes participatory approaches are the means and ends as well.

In the case of decentralized development, the ends are:

Since village panchayats have to play an active role in initiating the micro-planning exercise, they need a locally relevant database that is validated by the local people. This will form the basis for setting local priorities. This should help, in turn, in the formulation of local action plans in the form of development activities/projects/programmes.

Scope of PRA

PRA is used

Areas of application

Table 12.1 Participatory rural appraisal

Principles and methods


From ‘they learn from us’ to ‘we learn from them’.

. From ‘we let them participate’ to ‘they take command of their own process’.

Empowering the poor and weak to assert their priorities, make demands and act.

From ‘we’ve done a PRA’ to ‘we admit being corrected by people’.

From ‘we use instruments from our toolbox’ to ‘they can map, model, estimate, score, analyse, plan themselves’.

Expression and harnessing of local diversity.

From ‘we share our knowledge analysis with them’ to ‘we enable them to learn from each other and conduct their own analysis’.

Offsetting biases: spatial, project, gender/elite, seasonal calendar.

Community participatory appraisal, planning, implementation, monitoring and evaluation.

Rapid progressive learning, which is flexible, exploratory, interactive and inventive.

Triangulation: using different methods, sources and disciplines, and a range of informants in a range of places and cross checking to get closer to the truth through successive approximations.

Identification of research priorities; experts more receptive to the ability of rural poor to design, implement and evaluate.

Facilitation: to enable people to do more or all of the investigation themselves and own the outcome.

Insights gained from PRA leading to policy change.

Sharing: a culture of sharing information, methods, field experiences among NGOs, government and villagers.

Behaviour and attitudes: critical self-awareness in external facilitators, learning from errors.

A culture of open learning among govt., NGOs and community.

Table 12.2 Tools of PRA


Priority matrix

Seasonal calendar

Time trends

Venn diagram


Provides alternative database

Depicts differing local perception of local problems/needs


Builds rapport with locals

Supports maps of local resources/needs

Entire community involved in prioritizing needs and development initiatives

Helps to identify lean periods for resources and timing of supply of key farm inputs

Provides local perspective on time changes in natural resources/ecology/etc.

Helps to identify marginalized individuals and groups within the village

For details of PRA tools, please see Annex VII.

Previous Page Top of Page Next Page