Participatory Rural Appraisal: Principles, Methods and Application


N. Narayanasamy

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    To my Parents and Wife

    List of Tables

    • 1.1 Participatory Development vs Participation in Development 3
    • 1.2 Participation as Means and Ends 4
    • 1.3 Comparison of RRA and PRA 17
    • 1.4 RRA and PRA Continuum 18
    • 2.1 Verbal and Visual: A Comparison 30
    • 2.2 Sequencing 35
    • 3.1 Ground vs Paper 54
    • 5.1 Number of Participants Required for Transects 87
    • 6.1 Mobility of Fishermen: Kunjaravalasai 106
    • 7.1 Sample List of Relevant Organisations 111
    • 9.1 Timeline: Somalingapuram 147
    • 9.2 Timeline: Women Leadership 148
    • 9.3 Timeline: Milk Producers' Cooperative Society 149
    • 9.4 Timeline of Kovil Oorani: Michael Patinam 149
    • 9.5 Declining Groundwater—Historical Timeline 151
    • 9.6 Mudamma's Life Story 152
    • 10.1 Trend Analysis: Kathiranampatti 161
    • 10.2 Trend Analysis of a Problem 162
    • 10.3 Status of Natural Resources 163
    • 10.4 Trend Analysis: Assessment of Poverty 164
    • 10.5 Trend in Awareness Level 168
    • 11.1 Seasonality: Agriculture in Kasturinaickenpatti 176
    • 11.2 Seasonal Calendar: Planning of Activities 182
    • 11.3 Seasonal Health Calendar: Seasonality with Scoring 183
    • 12.1 Daily Routine of a Woman: During Sowing Season 195
    • 12.2 Daily Schedule Framework 198
    • 12.3 Daily Routine of Arumugam—A Boy Working in a Vermicelli Factory 198
    • 12.4 Daily Routine of Manikandan—A Boy Tending Buffaloes 199
    • 12.5 Daily Routine of Chinnapappa—A Girl Tending Buffaloes 199
    • 13.1 Well-being Categories and Criteria for Identifying Them 206
    • 13.2 Wealth Ranking: Category and Criteria 207
    • 13.3 Record of Information from the Informants' Piles 210
    • 13.4 Calculation of Average Score 211
    • 13.5 Classification of Cards According to Wealth 212
    • 13.6 Criteria for Wealth Ranking 215
    • 14.1 Pair-wise Ranking: An Illustration 223
    • 14.2 Pair-wise Ranking: Sources of Credit 224
    • 14.3 Pair-wise Matrix Ranking of Teaching Methods: Pupils' Response 225
    • 15.1 Matrix Ranking of Rice Varieties 234
    • 15.2 Matrix Scoring of Cotton Varieties 235
    • 15.3 Direct Ranking: Problems' Prioritisation by Scheduled Castes 236
    • 15.4 Matrix of Problem Classification 237
    • 15.5 Matrix Scoring and Ranking of Institutions 240
    • 15.6 Matrix Scoring with Secondary School Girls at Nurudeen Grammar School, Ogbomoso 241
    • 15.7 Access and Control over Common Resources 241
    • 15.8 Direct Matrix Ranking of Criteria for Vegetables 242
    • 16.1 Table of Forces 248
    • 17.1 SWOT Framework 261
    • 17.2 SWOT of the SHGs 264
    • 17.3 SWOT Analysis on Proposed Agro-service Centre 265
    • 20.1 Structured, Semi-structured, Unstructured Interviews: A Comparison 292
    • 21.1 Stages of Facilitation 308
    • 22.1 Participatory Poverty Assessment (PPA) 320
    • 22.2 Sustainable Livelihood Analysis 324
    • 22.3 Assessment of Hunger (Absolute and Silent) at the Micro-level 329
    • 22.4 Vulnerability Analysis 332
    • 22.5 Rise and Fall of an Institution: An Appraisal 334
    • 22.6 Participatory Monitoring and Evaluation 337

    List of Figures

    • 1.1 Ladder of Citizen Participation 5
    • 1.2 Sources of PRA 9
    • 1.3 Core Phases of Development and Spread of PRA 19
    • 2.1 Three Pillars of PRA 26
    • 2.2 Role of Outsiders and Insiders in PRA 28
    • 2.3 Triangulation 34
    • 2.4 Building Understanding and Accumulating Knowledge through Sequencing of Methods 36
    • 3.1 An Example of Symbols Used for Different Types of Households 44
    • 3.2 Social Map: Kalkottai 46
    • 3.3 Map of Village Toot Ki Dhani(Balapura)Drawn Up during School Mapping 48
    • 3.4 Leadership: Kurumpapatty Village 49
    • 3.5 Literacy Map: Krishna Rakshit Chak 52
    • 3.6 Village Resource Map: Chellampatti 60
    • 3.7 Resource Map: Sources of Irrigation 63
    • 3.8 Aquifer Map 64
    • 3.9 Forest Resource Map: Tholthukki Village 66
    • 3.10 Resource Map of the Mangrove Wetland: Veerankoil Village 67
    • 3.11 Farm Sketches and Profile 68
    • 3.12 Resource Map: Problem of Tannery Effluents (Kamatchipuram) 70
    • 3.13 Resource Map: Problem Identification (Ariyankundru Village) 71
    • 4.1 Participatory Modelling by Gender and Age 78
    • 5.1 Transect: Tirumalapuram Village 89
    • 5.2 Transect-based Resource Map: Uchikulam 90
    • 5.3 Transect-based Matrix 93
    • 5.4 Evaluation of Agro-forestry 94
    • 6.1 Mobility Map: Kasturinaickenpatti 99
    • 6.2 Mobility Map: Sellampatti 101
    • 6.3 Mobility Map: Uchikulam 102
    • 6.4 Resource Location through Mobility Map: Nandimangalam 104
    • 6.5 Mobility Map of Fishermen Community: Kunjaravalasai 105
    • 7.1 Venn Diagram: Relations of Size and Distance 112
    • 7.2 Venn Diagram: Depicting the Relationship 114
    • 7.3 Venn Diagram: Depicting Coordination between Organisations 114
    • 7.4 Venn Diagram: Assessing the Effectiveness of the Organisations 116
    • 7.5 Venn Diagram: Evaluating the Performance of Credit Sources 118
    • 7.6 Venn Diagram: Effectiveness of Leaders 119
    • 7.7 Venn Diagram: Biotic Pressure on Forests 120
    • 8.1 Causal Diagram 125
    • 8.2 Cause–Impact Diagram 126
    • 8.3 Problem Tree 128
    • 8.4 Shrimp Farms: Problem Tree(Ariankunru) 129
    • 8.5 Flow Diagram for Impact Analysis 130
    • 8.6 Systems Diagram 132
    • 8.7 Systems Flow 133
    • 8.8 Flow Diagram of Rice Production and Marketing 135
    • 8.9 Child Mortality 136
    • 8.10 Impact of Project Intervention 138
    • 8.11 Flow Diagram of Problems Related to Potato Production 139
    • 10.1 Trend Analysis: An Illustration 159
    • 10.2 Status of Women in Easanur Village 165
    • 10.3 Evaluation of Project Intervention 166
    • 11.1 Rainfall: Kasturinaickenpatti (Ref. Year, 1992–1993) 175
    • 11.2 Employment in Agriculture: Kasturinaickenpatti 178
    • 11.3 Seasonal Livelihood Activities of Men Belonging to Medium-rich Families 179
    • 11.4 Seasonal Livelihood Activities of Women Belonging to Medium-rich Families 179
    • 11.5 Seasonal Livelihood Activities of Men Belonging to Poor Families 180
    • 11.6 Seasonal Livelihood Activities of Women Belonging to Poor Families 180
    • 11.7 Seasonal Livelihood Activities of Women Belonging to the Poorest Families 181
    • 11.8 Food Calendar: Nlaphwane Village, Botswana 185
    • 12.1 Days Timeline Covering 24 Hours 191
    • 12.2 Daily Schedule Based on Relative Estimation of Time 192
    • 12.3 Daily Schedule Based on Matrix of Activities 193
    • 12.4 A 24-Hour Wheel 197
    • 12.5 Daily Schedule of a Fisherwoman 200
    • 12.6 Daily Routine of a Fisherman 200
    • 12.7 Daily Routine of a Farm Woman during Season and Non-season 201
    • 13.1 Sample Index Card 215
    • 13.2 Well-being Category 216
    • 14.1 Disease Ranking: Better-off Women 226
    • 14.2 Disease Ranking: Poor Women 227
    • 16.1 Force Field Analysis 248
    • 16.2 Force Field Analysis: An Illustration 249
    • 16.3 Force Field Analysis: Ariankundru Village 251
    • 16.4 Force Field Analysis: Adidravidar Colony 254
    • 18.1 A Simple Pie Chart 271
    • 18.2 Pie Diagram with Pictures 271
    • 18.3 Income Generation in Amemo 273
    • 18.4 Pie Chart Showing Distribution of Castes in Dobang Kunda (Old Women) 273
    • 18.5 Land Use in Ancharo Peasant Association 274
    • 18.6 Major Soil Types in Amemo 275
    • 18.7 Crop Choice for Meher Season, 1983 275
    • 18.8 Presence of Animals in Amemo Peasant Association 276
    • 18.9 Percentage of People Owning Oxen 276
    • 18.10 Fuel Sources in Amemo Peasant Association (1983 E.C.) 277
    • 18.11 Pie Charts of Income and Expenditure: Four Old Men 278
    • 18.12 Preparation of Expenditure on Inputs for Cotton and Maize 279
    • 18.13 Farmers' Perceptions of the Relative Impact of Organisations Concerned with Development in Abela Sipa Peasant Association 279
    • 18.14 Most Frequent Types of Treatment for Serious Childhood Diseases 281
    • 19.1 A Girl's Childhood 287

    List of Abbreviations

    ADApproach Development
    AEAppreciative Enquiry
    AKRSPAga Khan Rural Support Programme
    APAAppreciative Planning and Action
    ASSEFAAssociation for Sarva Seva Farms
    BDOBlock Development Office
    BEBeneficiary Assessment
    CAPCommunity Action Planning
    CBOsCommunity-based Organisations
    CDPCommunity Development Programme
    CLFCluster-level Federation
    CMCommunity Monitoring/Citizen Monitoring
    CPRsCommon Property Resources
    CSICivil Society Institution
    CWDPComprehensive Watershed Development Programme
    DANIDADanish International Development Agency
    DRADemand Responsive Approach
    DRDADistrict Rural Development Agency
    FAOFood and Agriculture Organization
    FFFarmers First
    FFAForce Field Analysis
    FGDFocus Group Discussion
    FPRFarmer Participatory Research
    FSDFarming System Diagnosis
    FSRFarming System Research
    FYMFarmyard Manure
    GRIGandhigram Rural Institute
    ICSSRIndian Council for Social Sciences Research
    IDSInstitute of Development Studies
    IFADInternational Funding for Agriculture Development
    IIEDInternational Institute for Environment and Development
    IRDPIntegrated Rural Development Programme
    KKFKarl Kübel Foundation
    KVKKrishi Vigyan Kendra
    LFALogical Framework Analysis
    MEPMinimum Evaluation Procedure
    MLAMember of Legislative Assembly
    MPMember of Parliament
    MPAMethodology for Participatory Assessment
    MSSRFM.S. Swaminathan Research Foundation
    MYRADAMysore Resettlement and Development Agency
    NGOsNon-governmental Organisations
    NSLNow, Soon, Later
    PALMParticipatory Learning and Management
    PAMEParticipatory Assessment, Monitoring and Evaluation
    PARParticipatory Action Research
    PARRParticipatory Action Reflection Research
    PCMProject Cycle Management
    PEParticipatory Evaluation
    PHCPrimary Health Centre
    PIParticipatory Inquiry
    PIMParticipatory Impact Monitoring
    PLAParticipatory Learning and Action
    PMParticipatory Monitoring
    PM&EParticipatory Monitoring and Evaluation
    PPAParticipatory Poverty Assessment
    PRAParticipatory Rural Appraisal
    PR&DParticipatory Research and Development
    PromProcess Monitoring
    PTDParticipatory Technology Development
    RAPRapid Assessment Procedure
    RDTRural Development Tourist
    REARapid Ethnographic Assessment
    RRARapid Rural Appraisal
    SASocial Assessment
    SARARSelf-esteem, Associative Strength, Resourcefulness, Action Planning and Responsibility
    SC/STSchedule Caste/Schedule Tribe
    SHGsSelf-help Groups
    SSISemi-structured Interview
    SWOTStrengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats
    TDTheatre for Development
    ToTTransfer of Technology
    TWADTamil Nadu Water and Drainage Board
    VAOVillage Administrative Officer


    Community participation has become an indispensable and integral component of development initiatives at the grass roots. It has been conclusively proved that the effectiveness, success and sustainability of development initiatives largely depend on wholehearted participation of the stakeholders, particularly the primary ones. But the question remains about where we should introduce this critical element of participation in the development process. In order to help achieve the desired output and outcome, participation needs to be introduced right from the appraisal to the monitoring and evaluation stage. Participation at different stages of the development process makes the participants realise that they are a part and parcel of the development, which ultimately makes them ‘own’ the output and outcome of the development intervention.

    Participation is a socio-psychological process. The urge to participate should come from within; it should not be forced from outside. However, it can be facilitated through indigenous processes, which are stimulated by internal motivation and guided by local organisations. Participatory rural appraisal (PRA), now known as participatory learning and action (PLA), with a repertoire of user-friendly, easy-to-follow methods, and with an emphasis on attitude and behaviour of the facilitators and development professionals, provides enough space and environment for people to actively participate at different stages of the development process. Practised initially by the NGOs in select spheres of activities, PRA has now spread rapidly. Due to the thrust given by the funding partners, it has now become not only a necessity but also a conditionality in many of the development projects. PRA is now practised by a galaxy of change agents, such as NGOs, universities, research institutions, training organisations, donor agencies, international aid agencies and government departments.

    The Gandhigram Rural University (GRU) introduced PRA in the early 1990s. A team of staff at the university, well-trained in PRA, drawn from different disciplines, with rich hands-on experience in the field, has been consistently using PRA in its research, outreach and training programmes and development activities. Initially, PRA was used to appraise the socio-economic conditions of the people in the service villages where GRU rendered its services. Later, the team expanded its field of application to include agriculture, irrigation, animal husbandry, fisheries, education, environment, health, sanitation, water supply, livelihood analysis, AIDS/HIV, community-based organisations, tribal development, food and nutrition, micro-plan, micro-finance and monitoring and evaluation. The team thus applied PRA in a multitude of settings. This experience largely helped them organise training sessions among a wide variety of clients using the principle of ‘learning by doing’.

    Much of this book is the outcome of collective efforts of the PRA team at GRU. This book is based on the field experience of the author and members of the PRA team at GRU. It has also drawn lessons from the experience of PRA practitioners in the Third World countries.

    The book comprises twenty-two chapters. The first two chapters deal with the origin, concept and principles of PRA. Chapters 320 deal with the methods of PRA. Each method is described in detail, explaining the concept, the procedure to be adopted, the participants to be involved, its application, merits and limitations and the precautions to be taken. In order to quickly grasp the methods, plenty of field-based illustrations are given. These illustrations are drawn from a wide variety of fields in order to make the readers understand and grasp the varied fields of application of PRA. Chapter 21 describes the roles and responsibilities of the PRA team members. This is an important segment in the book, for the effective practice of PRA mostly depends on the attitude and behaviour of the PRA team members. The final chapter dwells upon the application of PRA methodology in select fields of development.

    The book should be of immense use to those who believe in the institutionalisation of participation. Students, teachers, researchers, NGO workers, donors and aid agencies in the development field will find this book comprehensive, meaningful and productive. However, the book does not aim to replace field experience, since the latter is always more rewarding. The author welcomes comments and suggestions from the readers.


    My association and interaction with my colleagues, students, development practitioners, NGOs, government departments, development consultants and villagers have benefited me immensely in writing this book.

    I am deeply indebted to Gandhigram Rural University (GRU), where I have been working for the last thirty years. The university provides excellent opportunities to teachers and students for undertaking field-based research and outreach activities. This has helped me practise and experiment the participatory rural appraisal (PRA) methods among a wide spectrum of audience and settings. I have drawn significantly from this experience to write this book.

    I extend my deep sense of gratitude to Sri D.K. Oza (former Vice-Chancellor, GRU), who was responsible for introducing Robert Chambers to the Gandhigram community and for ushering in what can be regarded as an era of PRA at this university. I had the opportunity of interacting with Robert Chambers in a ten-day international workshop on ‘Attitude Behaviour Change for PRA’ in Bangalore and, subsequently, in a couple of workshops at Madurai, which reinforced my conviction in PRA. His thought-provoking articles and books have inspired me a lot. Any book on PRA cannot be written without referring to him. In this book too, I have liberally quoted from his works.

    I am also grateful to Dr N. Markandan (former Vice-Chancellor), who himself is an adept practitioner of PRA. He has provided guidance and support in practising and experimenting PRA methods in a number of service villages of GRU.

    I also want to record here my deep sense of gratitude to the Ford Foundation for providing financial support which helped me gain exposure to the world of PRA and enabled me to offer training to a wide variety of audience from villages, community-based organisations (CBOs), colleges, universities, training institutions, research organisations, NGOs, government departments, donor agencies, banks, etc. I am indebted to Dr Ruth G. Alsop (Programme Officer, Ford Foundation), now with the World Bank (Washington), for her constant support, guidance and help in our PRA related works.

    PRA is a team work and team experience. It is a way of life for some of us. I have heavily drawn from the knowledge and experience of the members of the PRA team at GRU. I express my sincere thanks to Dr M.P. Boraian, Professor in Extension Education, who has been consistently helping and supporting all my PRA endeavours. My sincere thanks are due to the members of the PRA team at GRU who include Dr B.R. Dwaraki, former Professor of Sociology; Dr S. Ponnuraj, Dean, Faculty of Rural Health and Sanitation; Dr T.T. Ranganathan, Professor of Agriculture; Dr. N.D. Mani, Professor of Rural Development; Dr P. Sumangala, former Professor of Economics; Dr. R. Ramesh, Research Fellow; Dr S. Manivel, Reader in Cooperation; Dr K. Manikandan, Lecturer in Economics; Sri B. Baskar, Lecturer in Cooperation; and Dr E. Perumal, Field Organiser.

    I have been fortunate enough to get trained by John Devavaram and his dedicated team at Society for People's Education and Economic Change (SPEECH) who are mostly responsible for spreading the concept of PRA in Tamil Nadu. John Devavaram has also opened up a lot of opportunities for participating in reflection sessions (which he used to organise at periodic intervals).

    I am grateful to J. Bernard, Visiting Fellow at the National Institute of Rural Development, Hyderabad, who helped us fine-tune our skills in practising PRA.

    I am thankful to Philip Abraham, a development consultant (formerly DANIDA Advisor for the Comprehensive Watershed Development Programme), who provided me with an opportunity to work as a consultant for a project in the field of PRA and CBOs. The experience gained in the project has been incorporated in the book.

    This book would not have been possible without the resources and knowledge from thousands of rural people from hundreds of villages spread across the southern states of India. I wholeheartedly thank them for the invaluable time they spent with me in appraisal and analysis.

    The Institute of Development Studies (Sussex) and the International Institute for Environment Development (London) have been playing an excellent role in promoting PRA. I get myself updated by constantly reading the publications from these institutions, especially the notes on participatory learning and action. I have liberally used some illustrations from these notes in this book.

    I thank Mr Rohan Savarimuthu (Research Scholar, Faculty of English and Foreign Languages, GRU) for going through the manuscript. I am indeed very thankful to Mr Ashok R. Chandran, Senior Commissioning Editor, and Ms Elina Majumdar, Associate Commissioning Editor, SAGE Publications, for their unstinted support in publishing this book. I am indeed grateful to R. Saravanan and P. Sellachamy for tirelessly typesetting the manuscript. Finally, I thank my wife Dr S. Vijayeswari, who is a constant source of inspiration in all my academic, research and outreach pursuits.

  • Glossary

    AccessAn opportunity in practice to use a resource, store or service or to obtain information on material, technology, employment, food or income.
    AccountabilityThe state of being accountable; liability to be called on to render an account; the responsibility to someone or for some activity.
    Action researchCan be described as a family of research methodologies that pursue action (or change) and research (or understanding) at the same time. It is ‘learning by doing’.
    Appropriate imprecisionImplies not measuring what need not be measured or more accurately than needed.
    CapabilityThe quality of being capable; the ability to do something.
    Carrying capacityThe population that can be supported indefinitely by an ecosystem without destroying the ecosystem.
    Case studyAn in-depth and a comprehensive study of a person, a social group, an episode, a process, a situation, a programme, a community, an institution or any other social unit.
    Chain of interviewsAn interview which may result in a series of interviews with different persons on the same subject.
    Chance encountersEncounters with those in a community who are met during the transects. They know something of a situation or condition, for example, woodcutters, minor forest produce collectors in forest.
    Civil societyAn intermediate realm situated between the state and the household, populated by organised groups or associations which are separate from the state; enjoy some autonomy in relation with state; and are formed voluntarily by members of the society to protect or extend their interests, values or identities.
    ClientThe receiver or beneficiary of an output of a process, either internal or external to a hospital or an organisational unit. A client could be a person, a department, clinic, etc.
    CommunityA social group of any size whose members reside in a specific locality, share the same government regime and often have a common cultural and historical heritage.
    ComplexThat which has many parts, categories, linkages and relationships (i) within a system and/or (ii) between it and its parts and the surrounding environment.
    ConsensusGeneral agreement reached within a group.
    ConstraintForces that hinder reaching an outcome or the solution to a problem.
    CriteriaStandards against which something can be judged or assessed.
    DataHighly specific quantitative measurements, usually numeric, which can be compared to standards or norms directly or can be combined with other measurements to produce new information for comparison with standards or norms.
    Data collectionGathering facts on how a process works and/or how a process is working from the customer's point of view. All data collection is driven by knowledge of the process and guided by statistical principles.
    DeprivationLacking what is needed for well-being. Deprivation has dimensions which are physical, social, economic, political and psychological/spiritual. It includes forms of disadvantage such as social inferiority, physical weakness, isolation, poverty, vulnerability, powerlessness and humiliation.
    DevelopmentTo make something better than it was. It means ‘to improve’.
    DiagramA simple schematic device which presents information in a readily understandable form.
    Direct observationA technique which relies on directly observing the field objects, events, processes, relationships or people and recording this mentally and in note or diagrammatic form.
    DiverseHaving variety, differences, with many different things and/or forms of the same type of thing.
    EmicExpressing the views, concepts, categories and values of insiders.
    EmpowermentA process where people can make a choice and take actions on their own behalf with self-confidence, from a position of economic, political and social strength.
    EpistemologyThe theory of knowledge, especially with regard to its methods, validity and scope. Epistemology is the investigation of what distinguishes justified belief from opinion.
    EticExpressing the views, concepts, categories and values of outsiders.
    EvaluationA process that attempts to determine, as systematically and objectively as possible, the relevance, effectiveness and impact of activities in light of the objectives.
    FlowchartA graphical representation of the flow of a process.
    GenderThe social descriptions, roles and responsibilities attached to women and men.
    HamletA cluster of houses, which is not recognised as an administration unit.
    Ill-beingThe experience of a bad quality of life.
    ImpactsThe long-term socio-economic results or changes that usually happen beyond the life of the project and are attributable to the achievement of outcomes.
    IndicatorA way to measure, indicate or point out with more or less exactness. It is something that is a sign, symptom or index of. It is something used to show virtually the condition of a system. An indicator provides, wherever possible, a clearly defined unit of measurement and a target detailing the quantity, quality and timing.
    InformationQuantitative data and/or qualitative facts organised in such a way as to allow rational judgements to be made in light of a desired set of goals.
    InputThe resources necessary to carry out a process.
    InterventionAny programme or project or other planned effort designed to produce change in a target population.
    Key informantsPersons in a community who are aware of the various aspects related to the life and conditions of the village and who are willing to share such information with outsiders.
    Key probeAn in-depth analysis of a problem, issue, situation, condition, etc.
    LivelihoodA means of living, and the capabilities, assets and activities required for it.
    Logical framework analysisAn analytical presentational and management tool, which can help planners and managers to plan, monitor and evaluate development projects or programme intervention.
    Matrix methodsA consensus development technique. A group of people who are familiar with the problem at hand are asked individually to array a list of potential responses to a problem into a preferred order based on a specified set of criteria for the solution. Through various scoring techniques, individual preferences are combined to form a group preference.
    MethodsA systematic procedure, technique or mode of inquiry employed by a particular discipline.
    MonitoringThe continuous or periodic surveillance over the implementation of an activity, to ensure that the input delivery, work schedules, targeted outputs and other required actions are proceeding according to plan.
    Non-governmental organisationA self-governing body of the people who have joined together voluntarily to study or act for the betterment of the community.
    NormA level of performance that is deemed acceptable.
    ObjectiveThe operational articulation of the purpose and aims of an activity, representing the desired state, which the activity is expected to achieve.
    Optimal ignoranceImplies knowing what is not worth knowing.
    OutcomesThe specific measurable institutional or community-level results that will be produced by the end date of a project such as new programmes or processes that will be sustained after the life of the project. Outcomes are the logical results of project outputs.
    OutputsThe immediate measurable results necessary to produce the outcomes. Outputs are direct consequences of the implemented activities.
    ParticipationThe voluntary involvement of people in a self-determined change; people's involvement in decision-making process about what to be done and by whom.
    Participatory deliberationAn approach to making or informing decisions which is participatory (in that it includes all those with an interest, especially often-excluded groups) and deliberative (in that it prioritises an effective communication between different perspectives and rests on qualitative judgement rather than quantitative analysis).
    Participatory micro-planningIt is a methodology that allows individuals to perform the task of situation analysis, comprehend the complexity of problems, strategise and solve effectively personal and collective problems.
    PluralisticThis refers to a situation in which many diverse viewpoints and interests are afforded equal status and attention, without attempts to reduce them to a single ‘consensus’ or ‘majority’ view.
    Policy appraisalA general term for the business of assessing different policy options in advance of a policy decision and which includes qualitative deliberation as well as quantitative assessment or analysis. Contrasts with ‘evaluation’, which tends to come after the decision.
    PoorIt has its common and wide meaning. This goes beyond its use as the adjective for poverty to include the broader sense of being deprived, in a bad condition and lacking basic needs.
    PovertyA condition in the lack of physical necessities, assets and income. It includes, but is more than, income poverty. Poverty can be distinguished from other dimensions of deprivation.
    PowerCan be defined as the degree of control over material, human intellectual and financial resources exercised by the different sections of the community.
    ProblemExistence of a gap between a desired condition (or level of condition) and the condition that actually exists.
    Problem statementA concise description of a process in need of improvement, its boundaries, the general area of concern where quality improvement should begin and why work on the improvement is a priority.
    ProcessThe way individuals or organisations interact, learn, assess information, gauge opportunities and solve problems and make decisions to reach their goals. A process is integrated, multi-faceted and systemic.
    ProgrammeAn organised set of activities, projects, process or services directed towards the attainment of specific objectives. The time period of a programme is generally long-term, of ten years and above.
    ProjectAn undertaking that is designed to achieve certain specific objectives with a given budget and within a specific period.
    Project goalRefers to wider and higher-level objectives and to which the project is designed to contribute. It is a statement of intention to be achieved or reached.
    QualityThe degree to which the actual performance or achievement corresponds to the set standards.
    RankingTo determine the relative position of a problem, a cause or a solution based on criteria.
    Secondary dataData acquired by other people at an earlier time and which is relevant to the area and/or subject of study and is available in published or unpublished form.
    Self-help group (SHG)A formalised group of twenty to twenty-five people voluntarily formed on the basis of affinity who meet regularly for the purpose of achieving a common objective through mutual support. They contribute to their common saving fund, lend credit to the members and plan development activities in order to develop skills, knowledge and confidence.
    Social audit StakeholdersA local public review of the quality of government decision making. Individuals or organisations directly or indirectly affected by the implementation and results of social and development programmes facilitated or promoted or implemented.
    SustainabilityDevelopment that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generation to meet their own needs.
    SystemA set of interrelationship between organisation and actors in a process for common purpose.
    ToolA tangible device used to help accomplish the purpose of a technique.
    TriangulationTriangulation is a form of cross-checking for validating the data and information collected.
    TrustworthinessThe quality of deserving to be believed: how believable a representation of reality deserves to be.
    VillageA cluster of communities comprising a group of houses and associated buildings larger than a hamlet.
    VulnerabilityExposure and defencelessness. It has two sides: the external side of exposure to shocks, stress and risk; and the internal side of defencelessness, meaning a lack of means to cope without incurring damaging loss.
    WatershedA geographical unit encompassing the land that lies within a drainage basin, from the ridge line of the catchment area to the drainage point or outlet.
    Well-beingThe experience of a good quality of life.


    Absalom, Elkanah, RobertChambers, SheeluFrancis, BaraGueye, IreneGuijt, SamJoseph, DebJohnson, CharityKabutha, Mahmuda RahmanKhan, RobertLeurs, JimmyMascarenhas, PatNorrish, MichelPimbert, JulesPretty, MallikaSamaranayake, IanScoones, Meera KaulShah, ParmeshShah, DevikaTamang, JohnThompson, GinniTym and AliceWelbourn. 1995. ‘Sharing our Concerns and Looking to the Future’, PLA Notes, 22: 5–10 (Feb.).
    Adnan, S. and A.Barret. 1992. People's Participation, NGOs and the Flood Action Plan. Dhaka: Research and Advisory Services.
    Ahmad, Bashir, NaziaTabassum and Parsa ArbabGill. 2003. ‘Diagnosing Priorities for Rural Women's Welfare through Participatory Approaches in Punjab, Pakistan’, PLA Notes, 46: 73–76 (Feb.).
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    About the Author

    Dr N. Narayanasamy obtained his PG Degree in Rural Economics and Cooperation (first rank holder) from National Council for Rural Higher Education, New Delhi and PhD from Gandhigram Rural University. He has 30 years' experience in teaching, research and outreach experience in rural development and has undertaken several action-oriented research projects and evaluation studies funded by national and international agencies. He has organised more than 100 training workshops in PRA; he has organised training programme in PRA for NGOs sponsored by LIFE (International NGO) in Nagoya, and another by Foundation for Advanced Studies in International Development in Tokyo. He attended a workshop on ‘Evaluation methodology’ organised by The World Bank in Washington, DC. He has published 75 articles, 50 monographs and 5 books. He is currently working as Professor and Head, Department of Extension Education and Dean of the Faculty of Rural Development at Gandhigram Rural Institute. He is the Programme Coordinator for the Centre for Participatory Learning Techniques and Management.

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