The approach aims to incorporate the knowledge and opinions of rural people in the planning and management of development projects and programmes. The philosophical participatory rural appraisal pdf of participatory rural appraisal techniques can be traced to activist adult education methods such as those of Paulo Freire and the study clubs of the Antigonish Movement. In this view, an actively involved and empowered local population is essential to successful rural community development.
Robert Chambers, a key exponent of PRA, argued that the approach owes much to “the Freirian theme, that poor and exploited people can and should be enabled to analyze their own reality. By the early 1980s, there was growing dissatisfaction among development experts with both the reductionism of formal surveys, and the biases of typical field visits. Two years later, the first international conference to share experiences relating to RRA was held in Thailand. This was followed by a rapid acceptance of usage of methods that involved rural people in examining their own problems, setting their own goals, and monitoring their own achievements.
Robert Chambers acknowledged that the significant breakthroughs and innovations that informed the methodology came from community development practitioners in Africa, India and elsewhere. Chambers helped PRA gain acceptance among practitioners. Decentralization means that resources and discretion are devolved, turning back the inward and upward flows of resources and people.
Empowerment means that people, especially poorer people, are enabled to take more control over their lives, and secure a better livelihood with ownership and control of productive assets as one key element. Decentralization and empowerment enable local people to exploit the diverse complexities of their own conditions, and to adapt to rapid change. Over the years techniques and tools have been described in a variety of books and newsletters, or taught at training courses. However, the field has been criticized for lacking a systematic evidence-based methodology.
To ensure that people are not excluded from participation, these techniques avoid writing wherever possible, relying instead on the tools of oral communication and visual communication such as pictures, symbols, physical objects and group memory. Often developing communities are reluctant to permit invasive audio-visual recording. Participatory methods in community practice: popular education and participatory rural appraisal”. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications.