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Timeline Events / Methods of Participatory Appraisal

Debates about methods of Participatory Rural Appraisal and Rapid Rural Appraisal (henceforth PRA/RRA) may be marked as beginning at a workshop on RRA organised in 1980 by Robert Chambers at the Institute of Development Studies in Sussex.

“That workshop brought together three distinct themes:

  • A populist concern to introduce a more ‘people-oriented’ dimension to data gathering in rural development;
  • A practical focus on speed and efficiency in gathering such data (so-called ‘rapid rural appraisal’) to deal, among other things, with the perceived problem that development agencies were not going to wait for anthropologists and others to complete time-consuming, in-depth studies; and,
  • An interest in projective methods where the rural poor (ostensibly the ‘object’ of development) were offered some scope to set the research agenda, influence the kinds of questions asked by researchers, and perhaps control the results.” (Richards 1995)



Richards, P. (1995) ‘Participatory Rural Appraisal: A Quick-and-Dirty Critique’ In A. Cornwall (ed) PLA Notes: Critical Reflections from Practice, IIED

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