Front Cover
 Front Matter
 Table of Contents
 But how does it compare with the...
 RRA and the analysis of differ...
 Participatory modelling in North...
 Shoulder tapping: A technique of...
 "Pass on the pen" approach: Identifying...
 The use of the school essay as...
 Methodological notes on exploring...
 The Thippapur experience: A PRA...
 RRA notes readership survey
 Contents of RRA notes backcopi...

Title: RRA notes
Full Citation
Permanent Link: http://ufdc.ufl.edu/UF00089570/00011
 Material Information
Title: RRA notes
Series Title: RRA notes.
Alternate Title: Rapid rural appraisal notes
Proceedings of RRA Review Workshop, Sussex
Proceedings of the Local Level Adaptive Planning Workshop, London
Participatory methods for learning and analysis
Physical Description: v. : ill. ; 30 cm.
Language: English
Creator: International Institute for Environment and Development -- Sustainable Agriculture Programme
Publisher: IIED, Sustainable Agriculture Programme
Place of Publication: London
Publication Date: December 1991
Frequency: irregular
completely irregular
Subject: Sustainable agriculture -- Periodicals -- Developing countries   ( lcsh )
Sustainable agriculture -- Methodology -- Periodicals   ( lcsh )
Genre: periodical   ( marcgt )
Dates or Sequential Designation: No. 1-
General Note: Title from cover.
General Note: Some issues have individual titles.
General Note: Latest issue consulted: No. 19, published in 1994.
 Record Information
Bibliographic ID: UF00089570
Volume ID: VID00011
Source Institution: University of Florida
Holding Location: University of Florida
Rights Management: All rights reserved by the source institution and holding location.
Resource Identifier: oclc - 24385692
lccn - sn 92015492
 Related Items
Succeeded by: PLA notes

Table of Contents
    Front Cover
        Front Cover 1
        Front Cover 2
    Front Matter
        Page 1
    Table of Contents
        Page 2
        Page 3
        Page 4
    But how does it compare with the real data?
        Page 5
        Page 6
        Page 6a
        Page 7
        Page 8
        Page 8a
        Page 8b
        Page 9
        Page 10
        Page 11
        Page 11a
        Page 12
        Page 13
        Page 13a
    RRA and the analysis of difference
        Page 14
        Page 15
        Page 16
        Page 17
        Page 17a
        Page 17b
        Page 18
        Page 18a
        Page 19
        Page 19a
        Page 20
        Page 21
        Page 22
        Page 23
    Participatory modelling in North Omo, Ethiopia: Investigating the perceptions of different groups through models
        Page 24
        Page 24a
        Page 25
    Shoulder tapping: A technique of training in participatory rural appraisal
        Page 26
        Page 27
        Page 28
    "Pass on the pen" approach: Identifying the poorest of the poor families
        Page 29
        Page 30
        Page 31
        Page 32
    The use of the school essay as an RRA technique: A case study from Bong County, Liberia
        Page 33
        Page 34
        Page 35
        Page 36
        Page 37
        Page 38
    Methodological notes on exploring indigenous knowledge and management of crop health
        Page 39
        Page 40
        Page 41
        Page 42
    The Thippapur experience: A PRA diary
        Page 43
        Page 44
        Page 45
        Page 46
        Page 47
        Page 48
        Page 49
        Page 50
        Page 51
        Page 52
    RRA notes readership survey
        Page 53
        Page 54
        Page 55
        Page 56
        Page 57
        Page 58
        Page 59
        Page 60
        Page 61
        Page 62
    Contents of RRA notes backcopies
        Page 63
        Page 64
        Page 65
        Page 66
Full Text
22-, 1

RRA Notes

Participatory Methods for
Learning and Analysis

Number 14





The principal aim of this series is to share current experiences
and methods among practitioners of RRA and PRA throughout the
world. The Sustainable Agriculture Programme of IIED publishes
these Notes containing articles on any topic related to Rapid
Rural Appraisal. The name of RRA encompasses a wide range of
approaches; and there are strong conceptual and methodological
similarities between Action Research, Participatory Rural
Appraisal (PRA), Participatory Learning Methods (PALM),
Agroecosystem Analysis (AEA), Farming Systems Research, Rapid
Assessment Procedures (RAP), Participatory Action Research,
Rapid Rural Systems Analysis (RRSA) and many others.

The series is to be kept informal. This is intentional, so as
to avoid the commonly encountered delays between practice and
the sharing of knowledge through publication. We would thus
like to hear of recent experiences and current thinking. In
particular, we are seeking short and honest accounts of
experiences in the field or workshops. What worked and what did
not; dilemmas and great successes. In addition, please send
details of any training manuals, papers, reports or articles.
We will list these under an occasional recent publications

RRA Notes is currently funded by the Swedish International
Development Authority and the Ford Foundation.

Please send materials or correspondence to Jules Pretty, Irene
Guijt, Ian Scoones or John Thompson at:

RRA Notes
Sustainable Agriculture Programme
International Institute for Environment and Development
3 Endsleigh Street, London WC1H ODD
United Kingdom

Tel: 071 388 2117
Telex: 261681 EASCAN G
Fax: 071 388 2826




1. But How Does It Compare With the REAL Data?
Gerard J. Gill ... p 5

2. RRA and the Analysis of Difference
Alice Welbourn ... p14

3. Participatory Modelling in North Omo, Ethiopia:
Investigating the Perceptions of Different Groups
through Models
Ejigu Jonfa, Haile Mariam Tebeje, Tadesse Dessalegn,
Hailu Halala and Andrea Cornwall. ... p24

4. Shoulder Tapping: A Technique of Training
in Participatory Rural Appraisal
Anil Shah ... p26

5. "Pass on the Pen" Approach: Identifying the
Poorest of the Poor Families
K Chandramouli ... p29

6. The Use of the School Essay as an RRA
Technique: A Case Study from Bong County,
Jennifer A Sutton and Blair D Orr ... p33

7. Methodological Notes on Exploring Indigenous
Knowledge and Management of Crop Health
James Fairhead ... p39

8. The Thippapur Experience: A PRA Diary
Somesh Kumar and A Santhi Kumari ... p43

9. RRA Notes Readership Survey
The Editors ... p53

10.Endnotes ... p60

Contents of RRA Notes Backcopies

Renewal of RRA Notes Mailing List


This issue of RRA Notes returns to the normal format after the
gloss of issue 13. It contains eight articles and a review of
the returned readership surveys. Gerry Gill makes an important
contribution to the reliability and validity concerns over data
collected in PRA and RRA work. He compares rainfall information
supplied by farmers in Nepal with "real" data of meteorological
stations, and concludes that the farmers' information represents
a remarkably good approximation. Moreover, the meteorological
station data took 20 years to collect but, although the farmers'
knowledge probably took as long to analyse and amass, it only
took a matter of 45 minutes to present.

Alice Welbourn describes the value of mapping and seasonality
analyses for exploring intracommunal differences in Ghana,
Sierra Leone, Malawi and Bangladesh. This approach has
important lessons for development projects. It also is a
powerful tool for training and encouraging attitude change.
Ejigu Jonfa and his colleagues support this by describing how
they encouraged groups of men, women and children in Ethiopia to
produce map-models of their village. Once again, the
differences in perception as well as what was intentionally
omitted or emphasised by the different groups was illuminating.

Anil Shah and K Chandramouli then describe the innovative use of
very simple techniques during fieldwork in India. Anil Shah's
shoulder tapping shows the importance of inducing attitude
change in a non-threatening manner. Interestingly, at a recent
workshop in Kenya (November 1991), Ministry of Agriculture staff
producing team contracts before fieldwork independently
suggested shoulder tapping as a means of ensuring individuals
don't dominate, lecture or ask leading questions. K
Chandramouli's contribution is significant for all agencies
involved in identifying and providing support to the poor. The
pass-the-pen approach is non-threatening and clearly effective.
As he concludes, the happiest amongst the officers present was
the Mandal Development Officer as the exercise had gone so
smoothly in a normally conflict-ridden village. The unhappiest
were the 6 police constables, who had no work to do.

Jennifer Sutton and Blair Orr describe the use of the school
essay method as a means of learning from school students about
their and their families' perceptions and views of latrines.
The ninety essays contained 535 separate likes and dislikes. In
a theoretical piece, James Fairhead describes some precautions
and hints for investigators concerned with understanding
farmers' management of crop health. He describes the importance
of distinguishing between different sorts of explanations,
particularly with an eye for the socio-political context.

The final article is a model of how to report on a PRA. Somesh
Kumar and A Santhi Kumari employ the diary approach to describe
their work in an Andhra Pradesh village earlier this year. It
represents a journey, with ups and downs, both for outsiders and

villagers. It also gives many detailed tips for those
interested in learning the lessons of working in the field.

The final article is the review of the RRA Notes Readership
Survey. In April this year we sent out 850 yellow survey forms
with Issue No. 10. We had received 185 returns by the end of
October. The extrapolated readership is currently 6090 people
in 65 countries. We present the details of the findings,
together with a selection of quotations from the reports.

Two important issues have arisen. Shall we charge for a
subscription for readers in the north for RRA Notes? Readers in
the north are less likely to share RRA Notes with colleagues;
they also have access to foreign exchange. The second relates
to a review of the mailing list. As many people may have moved,
and others not find RRA Notes useful, we are asking all readers
to complete the renewal notice appended to the end of this
issue. Those readers who completed the yellow forms are exempt.
Their names have already been put on the new list. So,


Many thanks

Jules Pretty
International Institute for Environment and Development


Gerard J Gill(l)
Winrock International Institute for Agricultural Development
PO Box 1312, Kathmandu, Nepal

Every RRA/PRA practitioner or educator must be familiar with
this type of question, although as a symptom it was, I believe,
first described by Robert Chambers. What is not always clear is
the condition of which the question is symptomatic. At one end
of a possible spectrum it may simply represent a challenge to
RRA methodology, reflecting an understandable sense of unease as
to whether this radical departure from conventional methods also
signifies a move away from rigour and accuracy. At the other
extreme, however, there is a worry that the question is
symptomatic of a rather deep and disturbing malaise: an
unwillingness to accept as "real" knowledge the insights and
analyses (as distinct from mere primary data provided in
response to enumerators' questions) of unschooled rural people.

I recently had the opportunity to address the question in one
specific context after an RRA training workshop which our
program organised and Robert Chambers and Jimmy Mascarenhas of
MYRADA conducted in western Nepal(2). During an exercise in
seasonality diagramming, farmers were asked to describe the
normal monthly rainfall pattern of their area by constructing
bar charts on the ground with the help of materials readily to
hand. As requested, they laid out stones to represent the
months of the Nepali calendar (the Bikram Sambat), and then used
maize grains to indicate the number of rainy days in each month
and straws of different lengths to represent the relative volume
of rainfall in each.(3)

Lumle Regional Agricultural Research Centre (LRARC) lies about
five kilometres from Maramche, the village where this
seasonality diagram was constructed.(4) The Centre has reliable
daily on-station rainfall (and other meteorological) data
stretching back twenty years. This constitutes an invaluable
resource for this particular study, permitting, as it does,
comparison between the farmer-supplied information on rainfall
patterns with scientifically-collected meteorological data.
Triangulation through the use of secondary data is, of course,
an established part of the RRA practitioner's tool kit. But
seldom can such a rich seam of reliable, detailed and long-term
secondary data have been available so close to an area where an
RRA exercise has been conducted.

Before beginning to compare these two data sets, however, one
fairly basic question must be answered.

What Makes a REAL Rainy Day?

Since both sets of data record two separate measures of rainfall
(volume of rainfall and number of rainy days) it should
theoretically be possible to compare both. However, there are
practical problems with the latter. In particular, there is the
definitional problem of what exactly constitutes a "rainy day".

According to the LRARC agro-meteorological station (henceforth
"the met. station") figures, even 0.1 mm of rainfall makes a
rainy day, but mere breath of moisture such as this will
scarcely impinge upon human consciousness. Yet any other
dividing line will inevitably be arbitrary and open to

Even if this difficulty could be overcome to general
satisfaction, there is another problem: seasonal variation in
perceptions. Rain, like all other phenomena, is inevitably
viewed by people (as distinct from instruments) within a
subjective frame of reference. In this particular case, the
same person may perceive x millimetres of rain as a "rainy day"
during the dry season (because it is unusually wet for that time
of year), but as a "dry day" during the rainy season (because it
is unusually dry for that season), so that cross-seasonal
comparisons are problematic. In view of this it was decided to
concentrate the present analysis on volume of rainfall only.

What is the REAL Rainfall Pattern?

Figure 1 presents the farmers' perception of the "normal"
pattern of monthly rainfall volume. This was made by sketching
on graph paper the pattern of straws which they laid out on the
ground to represent volume of rainfall in each month. Figure 2
shows the means of monthly rainfall recorded at the met. station
over the twenty-year period preceding the study. In this second
diagram the year has been arranged to run from April to April in
order to synchronize it as far as possible with the months of
the Nepali year used by the farmers. Moreover the same
horizontal is used on both diagrams, and the months on Figure 1
have been aligned with the gaps between the months in Figure 2
(since the months on Bikram Sambat run from mid-month to mid-
month on the Western calendar), so that direct "eyeball"
comparisons should be relatively easy. In the case of the
vertical scales, although the met. station data are reported in
absolute values (mm), it is obviously possible for the eye to
interpret these figures in purely relative terms, and so further
facilitate comparison with Figure 1.

This comparison is intriguing. The figures on the main,
monsoonal, rainfall period (June to September) are broadly
consistent, something that can be seen despite remaining
synchronization problems arising from the different timing of
months in the two calendars. Certainly if the met. station data
can be said to represent objective reality, the farmers' data
are close enough to this for all practical (agricultural)
purposes. In contrast with this, the situation in the late
winter/early springtime period is obviously very different, with
the farmers' secondary peak sticking up like some minor
Himalayan pinnacle above the gently rising lowlands of the met.
station figures. The remainder of this paper will largely
concentrate on this winter/spring season, particularly the month
of Falgun, in which the farmers placed the apex of the secondary
peak, and, as a context for this, the two months on either side
of it, Magh and Chaitra. Some attention will also be paid to

FIqIU3t 1:

"'Nol14L" fr ONW4L1

MtAfIl PaL. |04TT 44

%r %

0Sa&6: Mir47 ciP47T4Oa SuASONv44 D14A4tM

Source: Various LRARC publications.

(n t
W> d a c

Figure 2: Met. Station's Mean Monthly
Rainfall Figures (1970-1989)
Rainfall (mm)

1400 --. .--

1 2 0 0.. .. ....

1000 --l -------------

800 ----- f !------------

:0 .: -.i .....:. .:,am --

Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Jan Feb Mar Apr
.. .... ..........::: ..........'..... ::!
.... ......... ~
Apt~~~~~~. ..... Ju .Jl.u..e.Ot.o.D...n Fe.M r p


the month of Paush, which precedes this trimester, for the
reasons that will be explained later.

As a first piece of rough-and-ready triangulation, scientists at
LRARC and at the Institute of Forestry in the nearby town of
Pokhara were asked whether the basic rainfall distribution of
their area was unimodal or bimodal. Every one replied that it
was bimodal. Some added that this was what allowed the farmers
to take a crop of spring maize. They were therefore intrigued
to be shown the above diagrams and to learn that the "real" data
contradict their, as well as the farmers', perceptions.

The first step in the proper analysis was obviously to get rid
of the complication of having to use two different calendars.
This was done by going back to the Centre's unpublished daily
rainfall data and re-aggregating these in accordance with the
months of the Bikram Sambat. Figure 3 shows the results. Note
that in terms of monthly means, the re-aggregation does nothing
to upset the pattern shown in Figure 2, namely one of slowly
rising monthly figures from December to April with no sign of a
secondary peak. The other statistics in Figure 3, however, show
that these overall averages hide a great deal of year-to-year
variability. In one case, the month of Paush, the standard
deviation (S.D.) is actually greater than the mean (hence the
one silly-looking negative value), while in the other months,
mean and standard deviation are nearly equal. The minimum-
maximum ranges are correspondingly large. This is particularly
true of Paush, whose huge maximum value springs from the fact
that the two heaviest daily rainfall levels ever recorded in
Paush occurred in the same year.

Figure 3: Monthly Rainfall at Lumle,
Paush to Chaitra 1970-1990

Rainfall (mm)
165.1 165.8
1-0 152.8
150 --
10 0


Paush Magh Falgun Chaitra
(Dec-Jan) (Jan-Fob) (Feb-Mar) (Mar-Apr)

E Minimum Me Mean 8.D. Mean
Ei Mean 8.D. II Maximum

Source: Unpublished LRARC data

Turning to the main period of investigation, the Magh-Falgun
trimester, the daily rainfall data (Figure 4) indicate not only
the extent of intra-year variability in monthly rainfall
distribution (note the differences in scale comparing the four
segments of this figure), but also the fact that (a) the timing
of rainfall within a month shows no very obvious pattern, and
(b) the relative raininess of the three months of the trimester
varies very significantly from year to year. This last point
can be seen rather more clearly when the daily data are
aggregated into monthly totals, as in Figure 5.

In view of space limitations, the figures for only four years
have been presented in these last two diagrams, but these are
not unrepresentative of trimestral rainfall distribution across
the other sixteen years. The four that were chosen were
selected because they illustrate four of the most common
patterns that were found. (A "pattern" here is identified in
the same (relative) terms that farmers were asked to use to
identify them. Thus, for example, the 1971 pattern is that
rainfall in Chaitra exceeds that in Falgun, which exceeds that
in Magh. In shorthand form: {Chaitra > Falgun > Magh}.)

In addition to variation between basic trimestral patterns,
there is also considerable variation in relative volumes of
rainfall within years having the same pattern. This is
illustrated in Figure 6, which looks at four years conforming to
the pattern {Falgun > Chaitra > Magh} the one reported by the
farmers as being the "normal" one. In 1988 the Falgun peak is
extremely marked, in 1990 it is relatively small, while in the
other two years it is moderately pronounced. This again
illustrates the complexity of the data set we are dealing with
and the difficulty facing farmers (or anyone else) attempting to
summarise it within a two-dimensional construct.

When the daily data for all twenty years are aggregated by year
and by month, six patterns emerge, as shown in Table 1.

Table 1. Six basic spring rainfall patterns at Lumle

Pattern Frequency

1. {Falgun > Chaitra > Magh} 6 Occurrences*

2. {Chaitra > Magh > Falgun} 6 Occurrences

3. {Magh > Chaitra > Falgun} 3 Occurrences

4. {Chaitra > Falgun > Magh} 2 Occurrences

5. {Falgun > Magh > Chaitra} 2 Occurrences

6. {Magh > Falgun > Chaitra} 1 Occurrence

* Pattern reported by the farmers

Figure 4: Daily Rainfall at Lumle, Magh-Chaitra
Rainfal (mm)

RainfIa (mm)

0 10 20 80 40 60 80 70 80 90
Magh -. Chaltra
1971 FaIgun -

Rainfall (mm)

10 .............-....- .----.---------------------------------- ... .... ............. ....

o 1 rI.L .. Ir .i
0 10 20 80 40 50 60 70 80 90
19Magh __..... Chaltra ..._
1983 --F. igun-

2 0 ................... ............................. ....... ........... ....................................................... ... ......... ... .....

1 0 .......... ............... ... ..... ... ............ ..... ............................................................... I ..... ........... .....

0 ------L--. f...f........ ...
0 10 20 80 40 60 60 70 80 90
__ Mgh Chaltra
1977 Fr-un

RanflaN (mm)






0 10 20 80 40 60 60 70 0 8 00
g o ........ .... ............................... ..... ... .................... ....................... .......... ....................... ............. .....

4 0 ... ......................... ................ ......... ......... ... ................................... ............... .. ..... .......... ..................

3 0 ... ....................... ..... ....... .... ...... ......... ....... ...................................... ....... .............. ........... .......
2 0 .............................................. ... I ........... .... .......... ................ ......... ...... .

1 0 ......................................... I. .... ........ ... ........................... ...

0 . ..... . ... f. ... -. -
0 10 20 s0 40 50 s0 70 80 90
S Magh ~- Chaltra ._.
1990 -- lgun..

Figure 6: Examples of Four Basic
Trimestral Rainfall Patterns at Lumle

Rainfall (mm)






Magh Chaltra

Magh Chaltra

Magh Chaltra

Source: Unpublished LRARC data

Figure 6 lnter-Year Variation Within
The Same Trimestral Rainfall Pattern

Rainfall (mm)
1988rj 1990

120 iis-.


.:..-: .: ..:....:.'.:
.......... ,::::::::
.... ..... ,.-'.'.:.:
.... .............
--~~... ..:..:.. -. -.....
......... ........:..:..

ii ^ i: .......i .fr .B . .i .
....: .-...~~i: ....:;..........

Mlgh Chaltra Magh Chaltra Magh Chaltra Magh Chaltra
Falgun Falgun Falgun Falgun

Source: Unpublished LRARC data

Magh Chaltra

...... ........

iii......... 19 7.98... ........
: ........ ...... :
:':'.'...... ...... ..:I..:



Looked at in this light, one begins to see a possible
explanation for the apparent discrepancy between the farmers'
data and those of the met. station: each series uses a different
measure of central tendency when summarising the underlying
frequency distribution. Both are equally legitimate, though.
The met. station reports, in giving the arithmetic mean, present
the most familiar of these measures. The mean has considerable
merits as a summary statistic, but it is also a purely abstract
measure of central tendency and need not necessarily occur in
any year in a given time series.

It would therefore be misleading to describe the mean as being
in any sense "normal" or "typical" of the series. The best
measure of "normality" or typicalityy" is the mode, ie. the most
frequently-occurring single value, or set of values, in the
distribution. The above table shows that there is a tie for
mode in the series in question, with two patterns each occurring
six times over the twenty years. But why have the farmers
chosen pattern (1) rather than (2), since both are equally
common over the period?

Of course as far as the farmers' perceptions are concerned
twenty years is a quite arbitrary figure simply the period for
which met. station figures are available. The farmers' time
horizon(s) may be longer or shorter than this. Given the
variability and complexity of the actual year-to-year, month-
to-month and day-to-day figures, however, it is difficult to
believe that farmers really remember patterns longer than twenty
years ago. Or, if they do have some recollection of them, it is
hard to believe that these memories figure as prominently as
more recent ones in the intuitive calculations that must lie
behind the farmers' reports of what is "normal" or "typical".
If we look at the years in which the two modal patterns occurred
over the past twenty years, the picture is as shown in Table 2.

Table 2. Occurrences of the two modal spring rainfall patterns
at Lumle

Pattern Years

{Falgun > Chaitra > Magh} 1970, 78, 87, 88, 89, 90*

{Chaitra > Magh > Falgun} 1974, 77, 79, 81, 84, 85

* Pattern reported by the farmers.

Here, then lies the most convincing explanation of the apparent
discrepancy between met. station figures and those reported by
the farmers. The pattern reported by the farmers as "normal",
occurred not only in the year of the study (which was conducted
in the middle of Baisakh, the month after Chaitra) but also in
each of the three preceding years, whereas the other 20-year
modal pattern has not surfaced since 1985.

One last point has to be addressed before leaving this section,
namely the large discrepancy in the relative size of the two
rainfall peaks, comparing the farmers' diagram with the met.
station data. While the former shows the late winter/early
spring peak as being just under half the level of the monsoon
peak, the latter figures show that, even in the year of heaviest
falgun rainfall over the twenty-year period, the volume of rain
in that month was only a tenth of that in the peak monsoon
month, Shrawan.

Again one has to understand such an apparent discrepancy in
context, for no-one in their right mind would seriously suggest
that winter/spring rainfall patterns could approach summer
levels in a monsoonal climate like Nepal's. It was suggested
earlier that rainfall is viewed by people within a particular,
subjective, frame of reference. While the met. station figures
show rainfall as a purely meteorological phenomenon, farmers
undoubtedly view it in relation to agriculture. The monsoon
crop is paddy, a very water-demanding, flood-tolerant crop. In
the winter-spring season, however, cropping patterns are
dominated by crops like wheat, maize, buckwheat and mustard, all
of which have much lower moisture requirements than paddy. If,
therefore, one interprets the farmers' diagram in terms of
adequacy of rainfall for agricultural purposes, the relative
size of the two peaks in Figure 1 becomes readily

Is There a REAL Longer-Term Pattern?

At least as far as formal scientific investigation is concerned,
James Rennell, eminent geographer of his day, first Surveyor
General of Bengal, author of A Bengal Atlas (1779) and Memoir of
a Map of Hindoostan (1783), was probably the first person to try
to discern long-term patterns in the macro-climatic conditions
of South Asia. At about the same time as he published the above
seminal works, Rennell investigated a hypothesised relationship
between annual rainfall cycles and the occurrence of sunspots.
He did so in the hope of being able to forecast likely famine
conditions in Bengal, but was disappointed, as others have been
since. Efforts still continue to try to identify forecastable
climatic patterns in the subcontinent, for similarly useful and
laudable ends, but without any definitive conclusions having
been reached.

It may come as a surprise, therefore, to learn that the farmers
of Maramche village in the hills of western Nepal claim they can
discern a cyclical pattern in the climate of their own area.
They reported that once in five years the pattern was different
from that shown in Figure 1. In these atypical years, they
reported, there can be both rain and snow in month of Magh, and
a considerable amount of rain in the month of Paush (compared to
none in a normal year)(5). Unfortunately the available met.
station data do not include snowfall, so it is not possible to
validate this part of the claim. This validation can be
attempted only for the rainfall figures for Paush.

Figure 7 shows Paush rainfall levels, as recorded by the met.
station, over the past twenty years. First, as regards the
farmers' assertion that there is no rainfall in a "normal" (for
which again read "modal") Paush, the met. station data
substantiate this. In six of the twenty years no rainfall was
recorded in Paush, while in at least five other years the level
was so low it can be dismissed as insignificant.

As an aid to investigating the more important claim that there
is a once-in-five-years pattern of heavy Paush rainfall, Figure
8 re-arranges these same data in ascending order of volume so as
to make it easier to recognize any natural "breaks" in the time
series. Two such "breaks" seem to manifest themselves. The
most obvious is that between the highest year, 1988-89, and all
the others. This will be examined at later. The other "break"
is that between the 43 and 66mm levels. This represents a
"jump" of 23mm, which compares with the next-highest "jump" of
only 9mm. Using a figure within this 43-66mm range say the 50
mm level as the dividing line between a heavy rainfall Paush
and a light rainfall Paush would indeed give a picture of one
year in five having abnormally heavy Paush rainfall, but such a
rainfall level does not occur with any degree of regularity over
the two decades. It would, of course, be foolish to expect
anything like clockwork regularity in such patterns. All that
one could reasonably expect would be a reasonably accurate
statement of general tendencies. The question is whether there
is sufficient regularity in the "real" data for a thoughtful
person to discern a pattern in a distribution such as that of
Figure 7.

Several points should be made at this juncture. First the
information given by the farmers on the "normal" year has held
up very well under examination, even when at first sight it
appeared to be completely at odds with the met. station data.
Second, the information about the once-in-five-years pattern was
volunteered: no-one asked about patterns over a period longer
than a year, or about anything other than a "normal" year. A
question that should be asked here, therefore, is whether a
group of farmers, having put considerable effort into providing
credible information about rainfall patterns in a "normal" year
would suddenly leap into the realm of fantasy and start making
up stories about "abnormal" years.

One way of looking at the data in Figure 7 might be to forget
about "natural breaks" and look instead at Paush rainfall
figures over successive triennial periods during the two decades
for which met. station data are available, looking for periods
in which two dry Paushs "sandwich" an unusually wet one.
Several such triene can be seen although, of course they do
not occur exactly every five years. The most pronounced such
period, also the recentmost one, is that spanning the period
1987/88 to 1989/90, when the twenty-year maximum in Paush
rainfall was "sandwiched" between two fairly dry ones. This
again may be a question of perspective, with recent events
tending to overshadow more distant ones.

All of the above, unfortunately, must remain in the realm of
speculation. Had snowfall data been available from the met.

Figure 7: Paush (mid Dec-mid Jan)
Rainfall at Lumle, 1970/71-1989/90






Rainfall (mm)

72 66

32 34 771-
S 27 .24 ..
...i ..J. 17
11 11 7 7 7/7 7/77 7 0 8
9 n Ip i9m, i~ii i

70/ 71/ 72/ 73/ 74/ 78/ 76/ 77/ 78/ 79/ 80/ 81/ 82/ 83/ 84/ 86/ 86/ 87/ 88/ 89/
71 72 73 74 76 76 77 78 79 80 81 82 83 84 86 86 87 88 89 90

Source: Unpublished LRARC data

Figure 8: Pauah (mid Dec-mid Jan)
Rainfall at Lumle, 1970/71-1989/90

Rainfall (mm)


60 -- -
32 34
11 1 1 l: :

1 2 3 4 6 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20
Year (order of magnitude of rainfall)


station, one could have tested for a statistically significant
association between the occurrence of snow in month of Magh and
volume of rainfall in Paush. It will be a fascinating exercise
now to go back to the farmers, armed with the results of the
above analysis, and probe more deeply into the perceptions it
seems to have uncovered particularly those regarding the
perceived once-in-five-year pattern. Such an iterative process
is, of course, a crucial part of RRA. Unfortunately, in the
absence of scientifically-collected data on snowfall, such
iteration, while constituting a valid part of the continuing RRA
process, will not serve the purposes of the present exercise.


Returning to the question with which this paper opened, it can
surely be said that, insofar as scientifically-collected
rainfall statistics represent the "real" data, then the
information supplied by Maramche farmers represents a remarkably
good approximation. The "goodness of fit" between the two sets
of aggregates is all the more remarkable when the following
points are taken into consideration.

First, the techniques of constructing seasonal rainfall diagrams
were explained to the farmers, and the information they provided
subsequently recorded, not by people skilled or experienced RRA
techniques, but by trainees on their first practical field
exercise after only a few days of participation in the
classroom. Had the exercise been initiated by those more
familiar with RRA concepts and procedures, and had it been
followed up by iterative and interactive cross-checking in
accordance with standard RRA practice, there is little doubt
that the goodness of fit between the rainfall patterns described
by the farmers and that derived from the met. station data would
have been greater, and that at least some of the remaining (and
relatively minor) apparent discrepancies between the two data
sets reconciled.

A second point regards the nature of the variable itself.
Climate is an extremely complex phenomenon and people are
notoriously bad at recognizing long-term patterns or even at
remembering trends or specific events in it with any degree of
accuracy. How many readers (all of course highly educated)
would care to challenge this assertion by drawing a diagram
similar to Figure 1 for their own area of residence and then
putting their perceptions to the test by comparing them to
twenty years of daily rainfall figures from the local met.
station? Farmers, of course, have a much greater incentive than
most to overcome this natural handicap of our species, but the
degree of success with which they seem to have recognized
patterns within such a highly variable and complex phenomenon is
still extremely impressive. If unschooled Third World farmers
have developed the analytical and communication skills to do
something as complicated as this, then one can presumably trust
them to understand and accurately report on the many simpler
systems that also lie within their experience and knowledge.

Finally, the met. station data took twenty years to collect and
must have cost a tidy sum in terms of equipment, supplies and
personnel. The information the farmers gave maybe took as long
to amass and analyse, but it took a matter of only forty-five
minutes to present, and cost very little in terms of outside
resources. To make this comparison is not, of course, to
suggest that agricultural research stations should abandon the
rigorous collection of accurate long-term agro-climatological
data and start fiddling about with bits of straw and maize
grains instead! Accurate and highly detailed meteorological
data form a vital input into many of the experiments in which
such stations are engaged, but this level of precision is not
needed for all research purposes. Where a high degree of
comprehensiveness and accuracy is not necessary, to attempt to
achieve it represents a misallocation of resources that could
otherwise either have been saved, or used much more cost-
effectively doing other things.

In this particular case, the seasonal rainfall diagram is most
likely to be needed as a frame of reference for a discussion of
the problem of seasonality (it having been demonstrated by many
researchers that the problem of seasonal deprivation tends to
peak during the rainy season)(6). By "stacking" monthly
information on other seasonally-sensitive variables (like
indebtedness, food in store, incidence of disease, temporary
migration, employment, workloads, etc) under the rainfall
diagram, the participants could quickly begin to home in on
crucial times of year and critical seasonal problems as a
prelude to identifying the most effective type, level and
timings of interventions. For such purposes, a level of
precision equal to that of Figure 1 above would be perfectly


1. Program Leader, Policy Analysis in Agriculture and Related
Resource Management Program, His Majesty's Government of
Nepal/Winrock International Institute of Agricultural
Development. The usual disclaimers apply.

2. Jimmy is a Programme Officer with MYRADA, a Bangalore-based
voluntary agency which has come to the forefront in
developing participatory learning methods in recent years.
I am extremely grateful to Jimmy, Robert and the workshop
participants for the basic RRA information provided. Lorna
Campbell did an excellent job in pulling together much of the
information the Workshop generated in the form of a slide-
audio training module entitled Participatory Rural Appraisal
for Nepal: Concepts and Methods. Any faults or
misconceptions in the interpretation of this information are
my own responsibility.

3. Like many other calendars, the Bikram Sambat has twelve
months of approximately equal length. The year begins in
mid-April, so that months run from mid-month to mid-month in
the western calendar. There are 365 days in a year, and

provision month is not fixed, but determined each year by
astrology: any month can have between 29 and 32 days. This
makes for difficulty in comparison with a calendar, such as
the western one, which is calculated differently. (There are
also local variations in the transliterations and spellings
of the months shown in Figure 1).

4. I wish to record my thanks to Director and staff of LRARC for
their unstinting co-operation in both the conduct of the RRA
Workshop and the provision of the meteorological data on
which this paper is based. LRARC is constituted under
Nepal's National Agricultural Research Centre and has been
supported since its inception by the UK Overseas Development

5. The area lies at a latitude 28 18' North and an altitude of
1, 642 metres (5,387 feet) above sea level, so that there is
a pronounced winter season and a distinct possibility of snow
during it.

6. For a discussion of the seasonality problem, see for example,
Chambers, R. Longhurst, R and Pacey, A (editors): Seasonal
Dimensions to Rural Poverty. Frances Pinter (Publishers),
London; and Gill, G. J. Seasonality and Agriculture in the
Developing World: A Problem of the Poor and Powerless.
Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, 1991.


Alice Welbourn
Social Development Consultant
Contact: via IIED, London


There is a deeply ingrained implicit assumption amongst many
development workers that rural communities are fairly
homogeneous groups of people, who have similar outlooks,
problems and needs. It is also assumed that female-headed
households and people with disabilities are even poorer and more
vulnerable than others and are in need of special help.

Neither of these statements is necessarily true(l). Rural
communities are rarely homogeneous and the poorest do not always
have the same characteristics. RRA methods can help us to
recognize these fallacies.

Over the last year I have used RRA techniques in health-related
research and have conducted RRA training courses in Western and
Southern Africa and in Bangladesh. Whilst the technical
exercises involved in this work were similar to those widely
used by RRA practitioners elsewhere, I have aimed to use RRA as
a method for identifying, exploring and analysing intra-communal
difference; and as a means of training development workers to
appreciate the importance of this to their work. I have done
this by training around 15 workers together in one village at a
time. They have been divided up, so that the women fieldworkers
have worked exclusively with village women(2), the older male
workers have worked exclusively with old village men and the
younger male workers with young village men. All have conducted
parallel exercises and enquiries and have produced similar but
contrasting sets of results. But what is the relevance of this
to development?

The Setting

Most rural communities are made up of people connected through
kinship, patron-client and other close social, economic and
political ties. Within each community there are biological
differences of age and sex; and these are combined with and
contribute to socially defined, economic and political divisions
of status, ethnic background, caste or wealth. Most communities
have traditionally attributed higher status to elders and to
men: older people are "naturally" wiser because they have been
alive for longer... men are "naturally" more authoritative than
women because they are stronger... wealthier people are
"naturally" superior to poorer people because that is their
place in the world and they command more resources... mothers
are "naturally" superior to infertile women, because they have
borne children... and so traditional authority structures were
defined. "Natural" differences were and often still are -

inextricably connected with social differences and traditional
community authority structures were socially constructed around
the axes of age, gender and access to material resources.

Just as traditional western values have recently seen great
changes, so rural communities in the developing world are also
in a state of flux. Old men complain that their sons no longer
hold their traditional values and run after money; marital
breakdown and lack of financial support for child care are
becoming commonplace and the gap between rich and poor is on the
increase everywhere. There has always been tension between old
and young, men and women in societies. But nowadays that tension
is often far greater than it ever used to be. There is never a
single root cause to all problems, but much the most major one
is economic pressure. As economic pressures increase, as rural
communities become ever more permanently linked to the outside
world and as access to health, education and other services
become matters of economic wherewithal, traditional community
support structures start to break down with the strain.
Increasing numbers of people fall through the community safety

Many development agencies are concerned about the extent to
which their assistance really reaches the most vulnerable
groups. Two tasks facing them are to identify which people are
falling through the safety nets and then to work out if and how
they can develop programmes which can effectively and
sustainably ensure an improvement in their well-being. Until
the complexities of intra-communal life are recognized, there
will be scant chance of success with either of these two tasks.
RRA techniques, however, allow us to study intra-communal
difference effectively, and I draw upon various applications
in Sierra Leone, Ghana, Malawi and Bangladesh(3).

The Problem

1) Whose problems? When development workers call a village
meeting, those who attend are normally the male elders, who are
the traditionally respected village leaders and representatives.
Their opinions of the village's needs are asked and the
community is then considered to have been consulted.

2) Who decides? When development workers plan a new school or
a new health clinic, the advice of the elders whom they first
met is sought and their decision is heeded.

3) Who gets left out? RRA course participants in Malawi, after
carrying out field work were clearly able to state from their
own experience that:

o on the whole, the richest people do not attend meetings, or
show us around, because they have little to gain from us
and have their own means of access to resources;

o the poorest people do not attend meetings or show us
around because they think we are not relevant to their
lives and they consider themselves inferior;

o people who do speak in meetings and show us around are
those who have more respect and self-confidence. They
present their own outlooks, problems and needs. They
come from above-average socio-economic groups of the
community and do not represent the needs of the poorest.

These issues are important because we may assume that we are
responding effectively to the needs of all the villagers.
Usually we do not.

Some Analysis

The following case-study material from RRA exercises is
presented to highlight four particular axes of difference in
communities: age, gender, ethnic background and poverty. These
are never clear-cut: in some communities one axis is more
important than another. Yet it is helpful to identify each axis
individually, to acknowledge its existence before returning to
the whole picture.

The Relevance of Age.

In a preliminary meeting at the beginning of some RRA work in a
village in Sierra Leone, village elders, young men and women
were all asked to come together to hear about the proposed
exercise. They were asked what matters concerned them about
their village and some old men began to reply. As they spoke,
the young men suddenly got up and walked off, complaining as
they went. On being asked what was the matter, they replied:
these old men never represent us or our needs they only talk
about themselves and forget about us. What's the point in our
staying? We then encouraged the young men to stay, promising
them that we planned to spend some time specifically with them,
in order to learn about their views. They agreed to stay and the
meeting resumed.

The old men in that village were talking about a new bridge to
get across the river to the satellite villages where their
agricultural land is, and a new mosque; the young men wanted a
school and football goal posts: a classic battle between the old
times and the modern.

How do the development workers decide who to help? Not by
ignoring their differences. The dispute which took place was an
important part of our information gathering exercise for that
village. Subsequent exchanges during the map drawing exercise
and other activities underlined the tension between old ways and
young in this and other villages around. In my view it is no
coincidence that the greatest tension was apparent in the
poorest village. Development workers need to learn to be
receptive to these arguments. RRA, which encourages communities
to speak out and show us their village, provides us with an

excellent opportunity to perceive this accelerated breakdown in
community coherence.

The Relevance of Gender

The two mental maps shown in Figure 1 are of one village, again
in Sierra Leone. One is drawn by the men, the other by the
women. When compared, various differences of perspective can be
noticed. Men's maps, like the one below, often tend to reflect
their contact with the outside world, their public and political
roles in life, whereas women's maps reflect their domestic, more
private activity sphere within the community. Men's maps tend to
include all the roads which lead elsewhere from their village,
while women's maps concentrate more on the village centre. Men
tend to identify boundaries and objects of status, such as the
cotton trees (reflecting the two separate clans which make up
the village it was from this map that we learnt of this), the
(broken) chairman's tractor, the village drum and so on. Women
did not show any of these. When asked to mark changes which they
would like to see, men marked a series of buildings, lining the
route of the main road leading into the village. The buildings
would look very smart, prestigious signposts to their
settlement. The nearest building to the centre was an
administration hall. By contrast, the women, when asked to mark
changes, first explained that this was not their role: "Women do
not have any power to decide where any of these things should
be. The men have the last say"; but when they were encouraged to
pretend, they resolutely drew a huge hospital, close to the
centre and of comparable size, followed by a school and wells to
serve them.

In this part of the world, women take their children to clinics,
if there is one nearby; and women would be the ones responsible
for their children's school fees, if they were sent at all. Yet
rare is the development project which asks the opinions of those
who are most likely to use such services where they would like
them to be situated. In another village, much poorer than this
one, when women were asked to draw changes on their map, they

"We can't draw changes on this map, because the kind of
changes we need can't be drawn."

They had been telling me about overwork, breakdown in co-wife
support and beatings from their husbands. How could drawings on
a map help them?

The three maps in Figure 2, from Bangladesh, lucidly illustrate
both generational and gender differences. The informants live
as squatters on a government embankment beside a great river
which is constantly eroding its sides. Their traditional lands
lie below the water and they are now landless. The young men
have to resort to migrant labour for many months of the year.

The old men's map charts precisely the land which they consider
still belongs to them beneath the wide flowing river. They live
in hope that some day the river will change its course once more

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and they will be able to reclaim it. (Some sections of the
government think otherwise.) The young men have shown carefully
the tracks surrounding their settlement and have marked also the
road and railway which link them to potential work in the
outside world. Finally the women who barely move off the
embankment have studiously plotted the individual houses and
land use within the settlement.

There are no rights and wrongs about these maps: although
development workers initially find it hard to agree, they soon
appreciate that there is no "best map". Instead they come to
realise that different perceptions do exist and that each is
important in its own way in helping us to understand how the
village functions.

Seasonal calendars are another useful way of developing
different perspectives of gender roles in communities (Figure
3). Women, for instance, are often much better at identifying
individual disease patterns and normally include childhood
illnesses as a matter of course in their health calendars (men,
as a rule, don't). Women and men can both be asked to list their
specific tasks in different seasons. Women's home maintenance
work does not necessarily ease up after harvest, which is when
men often have more time for discussions with development
workers. (Other times should then be identified to work with
women.) Men are sometimes but not always more useful
informants on sources of, or fluctuations in, off-farm income
and credit.

The answer to "who is the best informant" is rarely
straightforward. Again these variations in information help the
development workers to understand that they should listen to a
variety of opinions: that different members of the community
have different information for us, depending on their
experience. It is our job to learn from them and make use of the
variety of views in our work.

In some case, differences of opinion in the information we
collect are particularly marked. Only to listen to one view
would guarantee that a project based on it would fail. In
Malawi, for example, the women of one village did not express
much interest in family planning. Some said that they would like
to have a three year break between children; but others said
their husband would not like them to use contraceptives and the
majority said they did not mind having more children. The young
men of the village said that they did not recognize a need for
family planning on the basis of population, since the population
of the area, as they believe, has decreased since former times
and people have moved elsewhere. Nonetheless, they said they
were interested in child spacing, but that it was the women who
were not interested. The fieldworkers doubted the entire truth
of this statement.

The old men, by contrast, perceive a real increase in population
and land shortage and consider that family planning is urgently
needed to help control the problem. However they say that women
want to have more children and refuse to take family planning.
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Traditionally, if a man had more children than available land,
he could ask the traditional chief to give him more land to
divide amongst his sons. It would follow that a woman would be
glad to have more children, because more land would then be
farmed by them. Nowadays new land is no longer available and so
this logic no longer applies. But, from what they said in this
village, women there still appear to follow the traditional
values of favouring more children. (N.B. This is in marked
contrast to elsewhere in Malawi or the continent(4)).

This example explains all too well the necessity of
understanding everyone's perspectives on an issue in order to
determine how best to tackle it. It also shows how important is
the inter-disciplinary approach, which RRA offers us, to
designing an effective solution. Provision of family planning
services alone is not the answer.

The Relevance of Ethnic Background

In some communities, perspective can be greatly influenced by
ethnic background. A common difference of opinion in Africa is
between pastoralists and agriculturalists: pastoralists look
down on agriculturalists, who in turn value their sedentary
lifestyle. Their attitudes to many things are governed by their
ethnic background.

An interesting example of different perspectives was seen during
an RRA exercise in Ghana, where socio-economic dimension (SED)
ranking exercises were performed with old men, young men and
women respectively. These ranking exercises are basically
wealth ranking, a la Grandin, with a different name. The term
"wealth ranking" can suggest that it is only wealth that can
bring status, so we chose to adopt the more cumbersome, but more
accurate term (SED ranking, for short) instead.

In the village where the ranking exercise was conducted, there
live five different ethnic groups. Preliminary comparison of the
old male informants' rankings with those of the young men
produced some interesting results. Whilst the young male
informants' views of their community produced a reasonably
standard Lorentz(5) curve shape (see Figure 4) the old men's
views produced an apparently nonsensical shape (unfortunately
the women's ranking is yet to be completed). The fieldworkers'
conclusions from this comparison were that each old man
interviewed had his own ideas about status and well-being based
on his own ethnically based perceptions of what constitutes this
(e.g. a large herd compared with a lot of land). By contrast,
the young men produced much more uniform results. This was
thought to reflect the extent to which modern economic interests
of all the young men, regardless of ethnic background, are far
more geared towards dry season river bank vegetable production
and no longer towards the diverse economic practices of their
elders. This was merely a hypothesis of the fieldworkers: but it
makes sense. Values are changing and once again, fieldworkers
need to be aware of that. The unusual profile created by the old
men's ranking highlighted the important differences in their
value systems(6).

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The Relevance of Poverty

The fourth axis of difference discussed here is poverty. Socio-
economic dimension ranking is a powerful tool for the analysis
of poverty: of who the poor are, of how their needs differ from
those of others, and thirdly of their hidden nature. In Malawi,
for instance, fieldworkers demonstrated to themselves:

o that whilst old men ranked female-headed households as
the poorest, women and young men ranked the old,
handicapped and childless as the poorest (Table 1).

o that the problems and priorities identified by village
members were in some cases totally irrelevant to the
needs of the poorest members of the community: for
instance provision of school building roofs and
teachers' housing, whilst a widely expressed need by old
men, young men and women alike, would have no impact
whatever on the needs of the poorest, who have no
resources to send their children to school anyway, or
who in many cases are the old and handicapped.

o that the highest sections of the community are more
known to other villagers than are the poorest. There was
much more common agreement on who the most important
people of the village were than there was on the

It became clear to the fieldworkers from these observations that
providing assistance without attending also to the needs of the
poorest, could make an agency inadvertently responsible for
making the poorest even poorer and more hidden. As those better
off have their needs attended to, they would be even less likely
to voice the needs of the poorest.

Making Choices and Changing Attitudes

The above case-study material has highlighted a number of
examples of the use of RRA to explore, identify and analyse
intra-communal difference. However, some may feel that there
would appear to be so much difference within a community that
the task of unravelling it becomes an end in itself. In the
Ghanaian community, for instance, there are 5 different ethnic
groups, 2 sexes, old and young, rich, average and poor (at
least).... these differences already produce at least 60
different sub-groups within this community. It would clearly be
nonsensical to try to delineate the different interests of so
many sub-groups.

Instead the important thing is to recognize that different
interests exist and, by using RRA techniques, we can quickly
identify which axes are of more relevance to issues concerning
community development in which communities. In Sierra Leone and
Ghana, for instance, gender and age differences seemed to

generate quite a lot of tension in the communities; in Malawi,
and Bangladesh these differences appeared to generate less
tension compared to the commonly felt urgency of food security
and landlessness. All communities possess dimensions of
difference based on age, gender and poverty. But it is important
for us as development workers to understand how these matters
affect community cohesion and their ability to help themselves
- if we want to develop sustainable projects.

Table 1. Pemba village rankings, Malawi March 1991

Young men's Women's Old men's
Groupings Groupings Groupings

1. Grow burley
have money
in the bank, food
available throughout
the year, offer
ganyu to others for
money, clothes and
food; have reasonable
cattle, goats,
poultry and more

2. Grow NDDF tobacco
plus illegal burley
tobacco, get more
money in May than
only maize grower,
maize is fertilized,
hence enough to eat.
They are club
members, but do not
profit from the
credit they receive.

3. Mostly very old
people supported by
children for
clothes, food and
money, keep poultry
produce little food,
club members but do
not receive profit
from the credit they

1. They grow
burley tobacco.
Have farm carts.

Have cattle.
Houses have corr-
ugated iron sheets
Enough maize for
the whole year.

People do ganyu
labour in their

2. Some grow
burley tobacco.
Food not a

3. Mostly middle
aged. Enough land
but gardens are
eroded so they
don't harvest
enough to eat
for the whole

4. Those who are
middle aged are
just lazy. They
fail to work to
help their
families. They do
ganyu most times.

1. They have tobacco,
big gardens.
They grow burley
tobacco. They
employ some people to
work in their
They have cattle.

2. They have big
gardens. They grow
NDDF tobacco.
Most of them employ
people to work on

3. They don't employ
people but work on
gardens themselves.
Most of them have
enough food for the
whole year.

4. Most of them have
enough food for the
whole year. They do
ganyu on rich the
people's gardens.
They make use
of their small their
resources (land)
which they have.

5. Most of them are
single but with
children. They have
small gardens. They
rely on ganyu for
most of their food.

4.Mostly very old 5. They are old.
people who don't No clothes. Female
have children to headed with children
support them, they and divorced. Do not
are not club members have enough food for
and do not use themselves and their
fertilizer, have no families. Don't have
food throughout the fertilizer to put in
year, have no source their gardens.
of income, have very
poor houses, they 6. Very old and
don't have any handicapped. No food,
chickens and some no clothes and unable
are disabled. to do any work.

-Those attending
group meeting: 2 3 4 2 3 4 5 1 2 3 4 5
Those who spoke: 2 3 2 3 4 2

The recognition of such intra-communal differences as those
discussed here has important implications for effective
programme development. Some may consider that it is beyond their
capacity to work with the most vulnerable, since they are often
more in need of welfare than able to work together with agencies
to improve their lives. This paper is not trying to suggest that
the most vulnerable have to be worked with: that is for each
agency to decide. But it is important for agencies to be aware
of the choices which they are making by default, through not
taking intra-communal difference into account. Agencies should
at least be aware of whether projects are in fact increasing the
gap between the poor and the better-off.

Finally, I consider this use of RRA to explore and analyse
intra-communal difference as a powerful training tool for
fieldworkers. At the start of a new training course,
fieldworkers often say "everybody in this area is poor"; or
"women in this country can say whatever they want to and are
not oppressed"; or "the old men don't really know anything round
here: the ones with the good ideas are the young men." By the
end of the training courses, having worked separately with young
men, with women and with old men, the fieldworkers have come
themselves to realise that:

o each individual group has its own story to recount;
o often these stories are partly conflicting; and
o each is of equal importance in helping us to fill in the
jigsaw of our understanding.

If we are to take community participation seriously the study of
intra-communal difference should be a central part of our
investigations. In real life, the sum of the parts is always
greater than the whole.


1. Those communities which do indeed have the most socio-
economic homogeneity seem to be of displaced people who are
in great stress. They have been separated from their lands
and traditional access to other resources and are mostly
facing the same predicament. For the most part they do not
then function as a "community" per se, but rather as a group
of individuals. This article concentrates instead on
traditional indigenous settled rural populations.

2. Ideally, separate groups should have worked with older women
and younger women and children but there have never been
enough fieldworkers or time for this.

3. The material from Sierra Leone is reproduced with kind
permission of the Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine from
whom the research was conducted. The material from Ghana,
Malawi and Bangladesh are reproduced with kind permission of
ActionAid, for whom the author conducted RRA Training

4. For more details on the importance of recognizing differences
in attitudes of men and women in repsect to family planning,
see Welbourn 1991 in GADU Newspack 13, from OXFAM.

5. See Hope, Timmel and Hodzi 1984: Training for Transformation
Mambo Press, Harare, p.9.37.

6. I am not trying to say that ranking does not work: it does:
we just need to be aware of what it may be telling us. See
Alsop 1989, RRA Notes 4, for an example of the successful
informant-based ranking of a village dominated by the caste
system. As she suggested, in cases where cultural or caste-
based differences are likely to influence results: "If a
cautionary note is to be sounded it is not to use those
household attributes identified by informants, in their
definitions of wealth, as discrete indicators of wealth. In
this instance perceptions of wealth took in to account
variables other than those discussed by informants in their
definition of wealth" (1989, p12).


Ejigu Jonfa*, Haile Mariam Tebeje+, Tadesse Dessalegn-,
Hailu Halala++ and Andrea Cornwall**

FARM Africa, PO Box 5746, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia

+ WVE, PO Box 174, Wolayta, Soddo, Ethiopia

I.A.R., PO Box 6, Awassa, Ethiopia

++ MoA, PO Box 166, Wolayta, Soddo, Ethiopia

** School of Oriental and African Studies, Malet Street, London
WC1 and IIED, London

Participatory modelling in RRA is based on the idea that when a
group come together to create a model of their area, the
representation that emerges can serve as an indication of the
aspects of the area which are of importance to the people who
live there. Yet 'participation' often means, in practice, that
the finished product tends to reflect the picture that the
dominant group wish to portray. A 'group of villagers' may
include old and young, men, women and children, but how
successfully can the creation of one model convey the concerns
of these different groups? This question was asked by a PRA team
in North Omo on a training course in August 1991.

When the team gathered together villagers to make a model of the
area, they found that although about thirty people clustered
round in interest, only a handful of those present were
participating in defining the features to be represented. This
handful were all adult and male. Women silently looked on,
children were shooed away if they got too near or tried to join
in. The model reflected the perceptions of a particular group as
to what they defined as the appropriate features and issues to
show the PRA team. This did not seem adequate to understand the
problems people faced in this area. The 'people' were also
female and non-adult and their respective interests and concerns
were not being given a voice.

The team asked the women and children to make their own models
on spaces of ground adjacent to the area used by the men. The
children quickly gathered sticks, leaves and stones and, under
the direction of a ten year old boy, built an extensive model,
which included features which the men had left out and, more
relevantly, had excluded from their model. For example, the
men's model showed the whole area as a patchwork of farm lands
and discussions centred on the lack of grazing land. The
children drew in grazing areas, unaware of the agendas of their
elders. The group later found that every farmer allocates part
of his land to grazing and makes use of communal grazing areas.

The women gathered many branches and twigs in order to create a
detailed model of the rivers, their tributaries, crossing points

FikLn2 1. u p2m-nTIClT& MO^&A-O ou 6oa? ,>f A6
klciZTk 0C)0, EV-TTO A

and ponds which were made by the rivers. The issue of water
availability, which the men had not brought up, became an
apparent concern. The women also detailed the village and marked
out the exact number of houses, discussing the number of
inhabitants and the spaces between the houses, which led onto
discussions about social issues. Both the women and children
showed forested areas and an afforestation scheme, while the men
had given over the whole model to marking out farmland and
complained of a lack of afforestation.

Modelling does not merely reveal people's perceptions, it also
provides an opportunity of people to show a group of outsiders
a version of their area which begs certain emphases and areas
for intervention. When a group of researchers arrives in a
village, whether on foot or in a land cruiser, villagers expect
them to be capable of offering assistance of some form no matter
how the exercise is introduced. In this situation, the men, in
particular, wished to prompt certain conclusions and make
certain points. Children, on the other hand, had none of the
expectations or political insight of their elders and wished
just to show an accurate version of their area. If significantly
different versions emerge the team would be better placed to
reflect on the implications of the motivated representations
which are being offered. Through this a greater awareness of the
politics of the encounter could be developed, as well as an
understanding of what is tacitly expected of the team in terms
of assistance.

The PRA team learnt from this how useful it was to do the
modelling exercise with different groups. As men often dominate
group proceedings and present their versions as authoritative,
dividing a modelling group by age and gender is an effective way
to gain an insight into the perceptions and pressing concerns of
focus groups. It was also important that the PRA team, which
(apart from the trainer) was composed exclusively of men, were
guided towards considering the viewpoints of women and children;
who are too often disregarded as informants. The issues brought
up by women and children would have been submerged if only one
model had been created. By letting them build their own models
a wealth of interesting information could be gained, both
through the exercise itself and through the contrasts between
the models.


The report of the training workshop held in North Omo in
August, 1991, entitled "Farmer Participatory Research in North
Omo, Ethiopia: Report of a Training Course in Rapid Rural
Appraisal", is available from IIED, London Free of charge to
individuals and institutions in the south. The cost is 5 to
those in the north.


Anil C Shah
Aga Khan Rural Support Programme
Choice Premises, Swastik Cross Roads
Navrangpura, Ahmedabad 380 009

A group of District officers were taken on a transect to see the
problems of soil erosion and the scope for watershed
development. I told them in advance that a transect in PRA is
for observation and to understand the knowledge and perception
of the farmers. We do not advise, we ask but ask open
questions without implied advice. I told them that this was
very difficult for educated persons, more so for those in
authority. Therefore, when I found anyone giving advice or
asking a question with implicit advice, I would tap his shoulder
and if necessary offer my services for rendering the advice-
query into an open ended question.

Six of us then set out in the mid March 1991 afternoon of not-
so-hot weather to visit farm lands of a village in a drought
prone Block. We were led by Dudhabhai, extension volunteer
trained by Aga Khan Rural Support Programme (AKRSP) in watershed
techniques, and five other villagers. In the midst of a treated
watershed, a visiting officer started, "This is a wrong place
for a spillway in the earthen bund. It should ..."

I tapped his shoulder and asked Dudhabhai on behalf of the
knowledgeable officer, "Why have you placed the spillway at this

He replied, "Water collects here from two sides of the bund, and
the spillway carries it further down without damaging the
earthen bund." I continued on behalf of the visitor. "But
suppose you had put it at some other place, say here?"

"It would be costlier", Dudhabhai answered.

The visiting officer, who wanted to advise was satisfied. But
another jumped in, "You should not collect earth...."

"Sir, you are advising, what do you want to say?" I intervened
in English.

"Earth should be collected from the upward slope of a bund so
that levelling process is speeded up", he explained. I asked on
his behalf. "Why do you collect earth from both sides for
constructing a bund?"

Dudhabhai was ready with explanation, "Bunding work should
result in minimum loss of cultivated land. Taking earth from
both sides, the depression formed is shallow. We are able to
raise a crop very close to the bund."

This whetted the officer's curiosity. "Did you in fact?" I did
not intervene.

"Yes sir, but it failed no rains."

We moved on. Another officer felt irresistible need to advise,
"You should put grass....." I tapped his shoulder, "This is
advice. May I ask on your behalf?" He nodded, a little amused.

"How do you ensure protection of earthen bund from rainwater?"
The village group mentioned that they tried two varieties of
grasses to strengthen the bund but the seeds did not sprout on
account of failure of rains. They also mentioned strengthening
of bunds through raising of other shallow root crops like

Moving on, the group stopped at a surface well that was
obviously abandoned halfway. The soil conservation officer,
noticing that the well was in a corner of a field at the end of
a downward slope, was about to utter an advice, "You can use
this abandoned well........"

"Sorry sir," I tapped his shoulder and asked in English "You
want to advise on farm pond, aren't you?"


I changed the advice into a PRA mode, "Is there any use of this
half done well?"

Ukabhai, a leading member of Gram Vikas Mandal, promoted by
AKRSP, replied thoughtfully, "If a channel is made to bring
water off that slope," he pointed out his finger in a direction
and continued, "the well will get filled up, like a pond. Its
water could be used to save a withering crop." I turned to the
expert who was largely satisfied.

Discussion on digging out a large pond to store run-off was
conducted by the Director of District Rural Development Agency,
and I found that there was hardly any need to intervene. The
discussion was on the advantages and disadvantages of a shallow
pond covering a larger area versus a small but deep pond. The
villagers simply said, "We will deepen the pond till we strike
rock, then cover more ground." The disadvantage of evaporation
losses in a shallow spread out pond was never mentioned by the
villagers, but the Director resisted the temptation of teaching.
My presence perhaps reminded him that in a PRA transect you
should not teach, only learn. And he did learn about an
unexpected disadvantage of an unguarded deep pond animals
might fall in it! As we proceeded my intervention was somewhat
reduced and the visitors learned more about falling water level
in irrigation wells, suitability of different fruit trees in
their village, and more.

Quite an achievement in half a day. But to make the achievement
last, it has to become assimilated in a person's way of thinking
and communicating. As Robert Chambers would say: basic

reversals are needed from the overbearing authority, advising
and ordering, to a curiosity to learn, and to a respect for
those who are apparently ordinary. Is it possible to foster
such attitudinal change only in PRA without developing an
overall democratic approach genuinely to know as other person's
point of view, not only with villagers, but also with staff,
friends and maybe with members of one's own family? Can one ask
open ended questions without an open mind? However, even if it
starts mechanically and artificially, PRA exercises can
contribute to opening of minds, more so if someone is around to
tap the shoulder when investigators start to advise when they
should be listening and learning.


K Chandramouli
Project Director
District Rural Development Agency
Anantapur, Andhra Pradesh 515 001

In some of the villages in Anantapur District, India, conducting
grama sabhas (credit camps) for identifying the poorest of the
poor families for credit assistance under the Integrated Rural
Development Programme (IRDP) has remained a difficult task for
the following reasons:

o Strong village factions cause the rural people to
identify themselves with one group or another;

o Rural people tend to vie with one another to get selected for
the assistance, ultimately resulting in pandemonium and
cancellation of credit camp;

o Neglect of the poorest of the poor, who are seen as hopeless
cases, and selection going in favour of slightly better-off

o Non-officials who are present influence the opinions of the
officials making the selection;

o Bankers' tend to select better-off families hoping that
their recoveries would be better with such families than from
the loans and given to the poorest of the poor;

o Corrupt practices among banks and government officers.

To overcome such problems and to select the poorest of the poor
families, while gaining participation of everybody present to
the satisfaction of them all, and to leave no room for non-
officials, bankers and government officials to manipulate the
process, the following "PRA-LEARN" technique has been adopted,
which has given impressive results(1).


Obuladevaracheruvu, a village in erstwhile Kadiri (west) block
is a major panchayat and now a mandal headquarters. It has
four hamlets with a population of 4622.

During a household survey, the majority of the households in
Obuladevaracheruvu, who are well aware of what IRDP means,
declared that they are all below poverty line and their annual
income is less than Rs.4800/-. Even the best of the efforts
made by the Mandal Development Officer, who is a senior block
development officer, and village development officers during the
household survey could not give a true picture of the economic
conditions of each family.

Verification of revenue records showed the officers that they
owned lands which categorize them as either small farmers or
marginal farmers, which is, of course, true. But among the
small and marginal farmers, who is the poorest and who really is
in the income bracket of Rs.4800/- and below was only the
problem as during the household survey officials could assess
their income based on the type of income yielding assets they
possessed and agriculture income as declared by them.

That gave the list of families to the 'Type-C' proforma, as the
target group, from which the beneficiaries could be selected for
1991-92 IRDP assistance. And that was a long list of 241
families. The task was to select only 31 families out of the
above. What was worst was, other slightly better off families
also were present at the time of credit camp asking why their
names were not entered in the "Type-C". They are also very poor
as the extent of land possessed by them cannot be taken as a
norm for deciding the family income because the income from
agriculture is very meagre because of the prevailing drought
conditions. That was the condition in which the credit camp was
to be held. Anticipating trouble, the banker and the Mandal
Development Officer informed in the Joint Mandal Level Bankers
Committee Meeting held at Kadiri on 25.6.91 that it will be
impossible to conduct the credit camp at O.D. Cheruvu and they
wanted the village to be deleted, when pursued further, they
have agreed to go with it, but insisted that the Project
Director shall be present for the exercise.


Considering all the above, and drawing all the confidence from
our "PRA-LEARN" experience, which we had applied in 16
watersheds under the District Rural Development Agency (DRDA),
we decided to conduct our first credit camp on 10th July 1991.

The Scene

On 10th July, as we entered the village we found about 450
people waiting in front of the gram panchayat office, newly
constructed, but not occupied. We decided to go out into the
nearby fields where there were 4 huge tamarind trees and
requested the people to gather under them.

The "Pass on the Pen" technique was then explained to all
present. The exercise went as follows.

The Technique

In the rural areas, the pen is regarded as a powerful instrument
and the rural people identify it with "Saraswathi", the goddess
of learning and truth. The people assembled were told that to
whomever's hand the pen is given, he shall speak only truth
because he holds the pen, the most revered object.

Then the group was asked first to identify one among themselves
who according to them is the poorest, living in an economically
very bad condition and, for sure, no one else present, other
than him, is as poor. The group unanimously selected one person
who according to them was the poorest. "The Pen" was handed
over to him and he was requested to come out of the group stand
and face the group and tell everything about him. He said he
had 3 daughters and 2 sons, he had no landed property, no house,
lives in a small thatched hut raised under a tree. He, his wife
and two older daughters work as agricultural labourers. But
since casual labour is required only for 60 or 70 days in a
year, they have to depend upon somebody's kindness for the rest
of the year. One daughter works as a servant maid in a vysya
family which runs a provision shop in the same village. The
family eats only once a day most of the days in a year and twice
on festival days and during the agricultural season when 4 of
them earn wages. The man said he is planning to fix up his 11
year old son, eldest of two, as a cattle grazer. In closing, he
stated that if an IRDP assistance was given he would set up a
petty provision shop in Obuladevaracheruvu.

After he completed, the group was asked whether whatever he said
was true. All in one voice said "true" and the group was again
asked whether he can be selected for IRDP assistance for 1991-
92. Again, all in one voice said, "yes". The selected person
was requested to identify another person from among the group,
who is as poor as him or slightly better but definitely the
poorest among the rest of the people assembled and to hand over
"the pen" to him.

After about a minute of searching looks, he had handed over the
pen to another person, a muslim. The second person came up,
turned to face the group and holding "the pen" with both hands,
started narrating his economic condition to the group. He said
that his family is 8 strong with his old parents, 3 daughters
and 1 son. 2 daughters are engaged in beedi making, the son
goes to school, his wife sells vegetables from a basket, which
she carries on her head to 6 neighboring villages, covering one
or two villages in one day. He sells groundnut, castor and
gingelly oils in 10 litres tins, which he carries on his head to
the surrounding villages. He has no land, lives in a small hut
and presently borrows Rs.1000/- from a local money lender (to be
returned in 90 days, and at the time of return has to pay
Rs.1200/- back, as revealed by him when asked separately). If
some assistance was given to him he said he would further his
business by purchasing a quantity of oil from Kadiri, and with
all additional income he would educate his son.

The group was asked whether there is anybody who can differ on
anyone of the things he said. There was silence. The question
was asked the other way round, whether all that he said was
correct. Everybody present said "yes". When asked whether we
could select him, everybody said "yes". He was selected and
the application was prepared.

And the exercise went on, "the pen" passing on from one man to
the other and the required 31 people were selected.

What we found really interesting is that many villagers, other
than those selected, came up and said that they are happy that
in the selection of each IDRP recipient, each person had a say.
And some of the selected came on to the place where we sat and
turning to the others said that they are indebted for the kind
gesture of all others assembled in permitting the poorest of the
poor to get the benefit. But for their co-operation and
generous kindness, they would not have got the assistance, as

Thus, the technique not only helped us in going through the
exercise to our utmost satisfaction, it allowed the real poorest
of the poor to be identified and kept all the non-official
elements from interfering (though they were present in the
credit camp). Just as important, the exercise which brought
together members of two rival groups, encouraged people to thank
each other, talk to each other and smile at each other, at least
for that one day.

The happiest among all the officers present was the Mandal
Development Officer, as the exercise had gone on smoothly and
to the satisfaction of the 5 villages, including 4 hamlets. The
unhappy, as it appeared to me, were, firstly, six police
constables who were posted there to take care of the law and
order situation who had no work to do, and secondly, the Branch
Manager of Sree Anatha Grameena Bank, O.D.Cheruvu, who had no
land-based schemes in the whole of 31 selected, as most of them
tended to be sheep, bullock carts and small businesses.

I must also say, on the other hand, that the Branch Manager and
his field officer were happy that a task they thought would be
impossible was made possible with "just a pen"!


1. PRA is Participatory Rural Appraisal; LEARN is Anantapur
style PRA, in which L stands for Listen carefully to village
community, E for encourage them to speak, A for ask
questions, R for review and N for note down plan purposes.

Post script

K Chandramouli subsequently writes on the 29th October "I
received your letter on 14 October along with RRA Notes. I and
my staff are inspired... and we have already replicated the
model in five other problem villages where because of factions
we were not able to push the concept of rural development in its
true spirits earlier."


Jennifer A Sutton
Los Angeles County Office of Education
Los Angeles County Outdoor Science School
23800 N. Angeles Forest Highway
Palmdale, CA 93550 USA


Blair D Orr
Dept of Forestry and Geology
The University of the South
Sewanee, TN 37375 USA


Researchers collect sociological data for rural development
projects throughout the world, sometimes with inefficient or
imprecise methods. Questionnaires and interviews are routinely
used to ask people directly what they think and know about the
conditions and events that affect them. Yet the results derived
from these methods may be biased. Many have recognized the
difficulties of information gathering (Olawoye, 1985; Opio-
Odongo, 1985; Phillips, 1973; Gilmour, 1988; Chambers, 1980).
Opio-Odongo is concerned with the "relationship between overt
behaviour and questionnaires" and the "delicate nature of the
interactions between sociologists as scientists and their fellow
human beings as the objects of investigation". Phillips
discusses the bias due to modelling effects. He states,
"Modelling can occur when the investigator consciously or
unconsciously projects his own views (attitudes, opinions, or
whatever) on those whom he studies". However, he goes on to say
that you cannot avoid biased data, for even "most studies of
bias are themselves subject to possible biasing influences".
Another prevalent form of bias, strategic bias (Harris et al,
1989), occurs when a respondent believes he or she has something
to gain from the interviewer or an agency associated with the
interviewer. Bias can influence responses, leaving the
researcher with the need to determine the validity of the
collected data. We attempted to eliminate some of these biases
by using the school essay method.

The School Essay Method

Students are asked to write a brief essay on an assigned topic
pertinent to development within their communities. They are
given several days to think about the topic and discuss it with
family and friends. The students are aware that the essay will
be graded on clarity, neatness, punctuation, and grammar, and
not on content. We applied this technique in Bong County,
Liberia by sponsoring an essay contest for the eighth grade

students of six local schools. Our selected topic was "What I
Like and Dislike about Using a Latrine".

The essay method is useful in that it reduces, if not
eliminates, the role of the researcher as interviewer and so
avoids the many biases of the interview technique. It gives the
responsibility of the interviewer-interviewee relationship to
the people being studied, but does not tell them that they have
this relationship with one another. The student becomes the
interviewer when he or she discusses the potential contents of
the essay with family and friends. This relationship between
interviewer and interviewee is more familiar and therefore less
restrained, reducing not only the possibility of acquiescence
and a response set (Opio-Odongo, 1985), but also the biases of
the guided interview by an unfamiliar investigator. The
interviewer-interviewee bias is further reduced because neither
the students nor the people to whom they speak about the essays
realize that they are the interviewers and interviewees,
respectively. Further, the modelling is within the same culture
and even the same social group (Phillips, 1973). The essay
method is more effective than the open-ended interviews in the
qualitative style studied by Bliss (1989) because it is open-
ended without a chance for discussion between the researcher and
the respondents (both the interviewers and the interviewees),
which reduces the possibility that the researcher might have
some influence in what the respondents say. To some extent, the
problem of reaching the illiterate people of the community is
reduced. Although it is the literate students writing the
essay, the researcher receives not only their responses, but
also those of the illiterate people with whom the students have

Another important factor is that there is not just one
interviewer, but many. This allows for different approaches to
the topic and reduces the risk of the responses being slanted in
any one direction as could otherwise be the case. In our study,
we used 90 interviewers (ie students) in order to reach as many
interviewees as possible. Through the large number of students
involved, we were able to receive input from a significant
portion of society. We selected six schools, three public and
three private, to obtain a cross-section of the population in
the area, and followed these 3 rules.

First, before beginning the contest, we consulted with the local
educational authorities to secure their approval. To ensure
that the contest had validity for the participants and kept them
working within a familiar system, we used the name of the
authority as the sponsor of the contest.

Second, we assigned the topic to the students several days
before they wrote the essays. This permitted them to talk with
each other and with their families about the possible responses.

Third, we provided clear instructions. We required that the
essays be written in the classrooms to prevent anyone from
bringing in work that was not his or her own. The essays were
one to two pages in length and were graded on the students' use
of English grammar, neatness, and clarity of writing. It was

made clear that content was not an issue to be considered when
the essays were graded. This step was taken to encourage
students to write honestly and without concern as to whether
their answers would please the grader. This reduced the chance
that strategic bias would have a noticeable effect on the
answers. Instead of being rewarded for "correct" answers, the
students won the contest because they had the best English

One month after initiating the contest we collected the essays,
graded them and awarded prizes. The reward consisted not only
of recognition for academic achievement, but also of cash prizes
to be used for school tuition. The cash prizes were intended to
increase voluntary participation in the contest. For other
development projects, particularly those which are just being
initiated, the prizes and essay contest can generate positive
attention and goodwill.

Contents of the Essays

We received ninety essays from the six schools. In total, the
essays contained 535 separate likes and dislikes. The responses
were varied and so, for analytical purposes, we grouped the
responses into five broad categories: structural, cultural,
health, economic, and environmental reasons. The number of
responses are shown in Table 1, grouped by school and response
category. Structural reasons deal with the construction and
physical maintenance of the latrine. Cultural reasons are those
which relate to values of the community. Health, economic, and
environmental categories are self-explanatory.

Table 1. Responses to school essay contest by category and

Reason School Total

Massaquoi Bakalu St. Phebe St. Gibson
Mark's Martin's

Cultural 23 3 3 29 8 12 78

Health 45 16 37 40 11 15 164

Environ- 63 3 4 107 5 24 206
Economic 1 0 0 15 7 0 23

Structural 6 4 2 37 12 3 64

Total 138 26 46 228 43 54 535

Before writing their essays students have had the opportunity
to interact with each other and other members of their
community. While we received many essays from each school, it
is better to analyse the group of essays from each school as one
single composite essay which is the synthesis of the community
conversations which preceded the writing. The situations or
feelings described in the responses must be shared by many

The most obvious feeling was that the majority of the people did
not like latrines. Understandably, they especially disliked
dirty latrines. Some students were aware of the health dangers
of a dirty latrine saying, "it gives you many kinds of disease",
"you might get other persons disease", and more specifically,
"[Flies] sit on our faeces then again sit on our food and this
most of the time leads to running stomach". Other students just
knew that they did not like the waste to be on the floor, walls
or seat. One student wrote, "If my restrom is very dirty I will
not allow any one to enter it, because if the person go there he
will always like to talk about you bad".

There were other reasons why they disliked latrines.
Structurally, the latrine could be unsafe for children. As one
student puts it, "Children often fall in the hole". Others
wrote, it "might not last too long" and "it keeps bad odor
around when full". Some students were concerned about privacy,
saying, "some.....does not have door at all". In these examples
the essay method has discovered problems that can be solved
technically. Better planning can go into building the latrines
so that they do not have holes large enough for a child to fall
into them, they can be better designed so that they last longer
and can be moved when the hole is full and the hole can be more
securely sealed after it is full to prevent the bad smell from
escaping. A door is a simple addition, though it is a question
of maintenance as to whether or not the door will remain

Another observation made by the students was that they did not
like a latrine to be located near a well. They know that "It is
also not good to build a latrine near a well because when you do
so, then the well will absorb the water from the latrine which
create germs in to your drinking water that may affect you and
your family with a great deal of diseases". Again, this
identified problem can be avoided by good planning.

We also learned that some of the reasons why the people do not
like latrines are false. Therefore, some of their dislikes can
be overcome with some basic education on the facts about
latrines. One such false belief is that the bad odour of the
latrine can give you sickness. One student writes, "people will
also get germs from the air and get some sicknesses". Another
writes, "I don't like to use latrine because the vibration of
an air from the hole is very contagious". The fear that the air
of the latrine can make a person sick was an unexpected
response. Other responses were just as surprising.

Understandably, the reasons with cultural influence were the
most unpredictable and unexpected. A latrine is appreciated by

some people because "it contributes to the development of your
community" and because "a civilised man should have a latrine".
It was said that, "having a latrine in my community made me to
look important" and that "it made my visitors to carry my good
name and also my parents who always like to visit me".
Fortunately, the culture-based reasons tend to be more positive
than negative and can, therefore, be considered guidelines for
continuing the development project.

However, problems represented by the negative responses need to
be solved before the program can be successful. For example,
some of the students listed fear of physical harm by man or
animal as reasons why they disliked the latrines. Many
mentioned the danger of visiting the latrine at night. One
student explains his fear saying, "you will be afraid to come
outside to use the latrine at night because some time you will
be attacked by some hard men and that is one of the main thing
that I don't like about latrine". The student refers to "hard
men", actually heart men, hired assassins who are most dangerous
to the healthy young boys of a village or town. The fear of
heart men is as legitimate as that of snake bite, though not as
frequent, and must be dealt with according to local custom
combined with common sense.

These types of cultural "dislikes" can cause the greatest
problems for rural development projects. They are usually less
physically obvious and require the most sensitivity in project
implementation. The problems may not be part of an interview
with set questions if the interview designer is from outside the
culture. Even in an open-ended interview people could be more
reluctant to discuss their cultural likes and dislikes if they
know it is being recorded for outside observation. The essay
method may uncover otherwise hidden cultural reasons for project
success or failure.

In addition to the primary advantages discussed above, the
method is as Chambers (1980) would phrase it, "quick and clean".
Our study required less than one month and the only cost
incurred was the small expenditure for prize money. Further,
the method can generate positive publicity for the sponsoring
ministry, agency, or development project. Finally, the method
is versatile enough to be used during most stages of a
development project.

However, the essay contest should not be extended beyond its
capabilities. It is unlikely to yield useful quantitative data.
The method gathers a list of reasons, but rarely will it be able
to explore any of the reasons in depth. It may be best to use
the method in conjunction with other survey techniques. Reasons
cited in the essay can be a starting point for more
participatory discussions, beginning with the more obvious
reasons and working towards the less obvious.


Despite the limitations listed above, the essay method can be
useful in discovering the reasons why people like or dislike a
development project. The method's primary advantage is its
ability to obscure the roles of interviewer and interviewee.
This property makes the essay contest a useful tool for applied
sociologists studying the cultural aspects of rural development.


Bliss, J. C. and A. J. Martin. 1989. Identifying NIPF management
motivations with qualitative methods. Forest Science. 35(2), 601-

Chambers, R. 1980. Shortcut Methods in Information Gathering for
Rural Development Projects. Paper for World Bank Agricultural
Sector Symposia. 7 January 1980. University of Sussex, Brighton,

Gilmour, D. A. 1988. Not Seeing the Trees for the Forest: A Re-
Appraisal of the Deforestation Crisis in the 2 Hill Districts of
Nepal. Mountain Research and Development. 8(4), 343-350

Harris, C. C., B. L. Driver and W. J. McLaughlin. 1989. Improving
the Contingent Valuation Method: A Psychological Perspective.
Journal of Environmental Economics and Management. 17, 213-229

Olawoye, Janice E. 1985. Questions on Relevant Methods for
Research in Third-World Countries. The Rural Sociologist. 5(4),

Opio-Odongo, J. M. A. 1985. Research Strategies for Studying
Rural Life in Africa. The Rural Sociologist. 5(4), 248-253

Phillips, Derek. 1973. Abandoning Method: Sociological Studies in
Methodology. Jossey-Bass Publishers, San Franscisco


James Fairhead
Natural Resources Institute
Chatham Maritime, Chatham
Kent ME4 4TB

These notes highlight several misconceptions which limit
researchers in their investigation of local knowledge of crop

Methodological Precautions

Firstly, innovative researchers have sometimes presented farmers
with photographs, specimens, or field examples of crop diseases
and have asked them to identify, name and explain the incidence
of them. Such a disease-centric approach wrongfully assumes that
if farmers do not know about diseases then they do not account
for them in their management of crop health. Farmers actually
have many ways to assess and influence the health of a crop
without explaining in terms of disease.

That the pathosystem is subsumed into a broader understanding of
plant-water-soil relations means that for farmers non-disease
related causes of ill-health are not distinct from disease
related ones. Researchers can be mislead if they only focus
their enquiry on what they consider to be disease related
phenomena. Non-disease related causes of ill health such as
flooding or hail can inform and be integral to the ways farmers
manage and understand of crop health.

Secondly, it is a mistake to focus only on agricultural phenomena
to the exclusion of local medical knowledge. Notions of health,
fertility and death are common to both people and plants, and
peoples understanding of one is likely to be informed by the
other. If it is not, this would in itself be significant. It is
hard to tell whether farmers liken plant phenomena with other
phenomena in the world around them, or consider the processes to
be the same. Whatever the origin and implications of the
likeness will remain obscure to researchers who are unfamiliar
with that other world which plant phenomena are like, or which
they can be likened to. To avoid considering local explanations
derived from agricultural discussion to be exclusively applicable
to crops, it is therefore important to follow explanations
through and ask if the idioms and causes can be applied to
people, animals or anything else.

To this end, it may well be useful to carry out (or consult) a
parallel study of the analytic principles in understanding
personal health as this is likely to shed light onto health
relations in the plant world. This does not necessarily mean
visiting specialist local healers, because specialists usually

deal with special occasions and often have their own 'technical'
vocabulary which may differ from that applied to everyday
occurrences. It is important to investigate the ways that non-
specialists evaluate their own health on a day-to-day basis, and
think about, diagnose and cure their own ailments.

Thirdly, researchers have been tempted to examine all local
explanations of crop phenomena at face value, rather than
consider different sorts of explanation to be associated with
different socio-political or production contexts. In communities
where farming is a sensitive social and economic issue (ie. where
farming, trading, storing, selling and consuming produce, creates
social group identity, and differentiates between groups
economically and conceptually) farmers can usually explain
agricultural practice and phenomena in many ways. Explanations
range from the polite and evasive explanatory shorthand idioms
(eg. 'there was too much rain', 'it was the will of god'), to
idioms signalling distrust (eg. 'it was sorcery'), to ethnic
norms ('this way is our way'), and to uncertain and exploratory

Perhaps the most difficult task for ethno-scientists is to
distinguish between these different sorts of explanations with an
eye for their socio-political context. It would be wrong to
consider all explanations to be somehow logically connected, but
recognizing the discontinuities, and their importance requires
astute observational and theoretical awareness. Similar
difficulties in understanding discontinuities are faced by
farmers who hear about God's monopoly on creation in Baptist
fundamentalist church in the morning and in the evening hear
about the creation of new crop varieties by IARCs on the radio.

Researchers most easily elicit and analyse shorthand and
normative explanations which are straightforward to express, and
relatively standard to a community, but which are more important
in managing social relations than plant health ones. We can give
the impression of talking shop without saying anything of
importance. The less certain ideas which infuse farmers
practices, especially their most novel practices, can easily
escape the researcher's attention. More experimental,
hypothetical, relatively unformulated, metaphorical, 'empirical'
ideas are generally socially and intellectually harder to
discuss. In many circumstances novelty and expressing
individuality can be socially very problematic indeed. That
these ideas are less coherent across the community, and that they
are thus harder to analyse does not make them any less

Different social strata may have different experiences and
knowledge of farming. As a result, it can be the case that young
and old men understand the origin of abundance differently; that
men and women understand weed relations differently, and that
those who cultivate for a wage on other people's land and those
who cultivate for themselves on their own can understand
fertility relations differently. Husbands who live in the same
village all their lives have a different comparative experience
to their wives who move to be with their husbands at marriage.

Those who have examined historical changes in local knowledge
within the changing social, economic and political context of
farming stress the need to examine agricultural expression within
the local relations of production of knowledge; relations (&
struggles) between these groups (Bebbington 1990; Fairhead 1990).
This means that one cannot link knowledge to a place but to
relationships between peoples.

Methodological Hints

I consider these precautions as fundamental to any sort of
methodology (in the narrow sense of 'data collection tool').
Formal methodologies and questionnaires are not appropriate to
learning how farmers understand crop health. I would be wary
even of rapid appraisal tools as the prerequisite is to have a
good and enduring relationship with several farmers from whom one
can learn in an iterative way. There are perhaps several ways,
however, which can be used to speed up the iterative learning

Both Bentley in Honduras (1989) and myself in Zaire have found
that farmers used notions of heat and cold, and burning, and
cooling (freezing) to describe the diseased state of plants.
Given this description is common, it is then important to explore
the conditions which are seen to cause these and the causal
linkages this is where the local knowledge of health relations
really lies. One can discuss each successive stage in the
cultivation cycle, and see if there are practices which alter
the incidence of these phenomena (easier said than done). This
requires a very detailed knowledge of the subtle variables which
farmers alter or account for at every stage of the cultivation
cycle, and the rationale behind such manipulation. This requires
great persistence by the observing researcher, and astute
observation which takes nothing for granted (for problems of
observation of micro-environments, see Chambers 1990).

The way I checked what I saw and heard, and deepened my analysis
was to try out explanations derived from one informant, when in
similar situations with others. Did it shock? (ie. ideas
conflict, or the original ideas was creative) or does it pass
unnoticed as correct.

Variants Not Norms

The interesting aspects of the production system are the
variations, and not the norms. Indeed we should avoid any notion
of norm, and contrast the reasoning or practices of one informant
with those of every other and not any 'norm'. By focusing on the
subtle differences in the way tasks are done between times,
people and places (eg. which weeds are left where, which leaves
are picked off the plant) it is possible to derive sources of
farming flexibility. (Certain things one cannot talk about with
farmers whilst observing, and one must rely on discussion alone
eg what does one vary if one is late planting? or if there is a
drought? or excess rain?) Such questions will be more effective
if the sources of flexibility are already understood.

Choosing Informants

Although certain people can have a local reputation for their
farming skill, they are not necessarily the best informants. The
success on which their reputation is built might reflect their
reduced need to make less compromises than their skill per se.
It is often wealthier farmers who have more land, who can hire
labour, store seed etc. and who therefore have more ways to
control the health of their crops who are considered 'good
farmers'. It would be wrong to rely only on such informants.
The ideas of others who struggle to meet more intractable
problems to the best of their ability are as important to
elucidate, if not more so.

These are only quickly jotted down ideas. They ought to
complement both longer term research results (Trutmann et al,
1991) and the sorts of methodologies being developed under
participatory rural appraisal.


Bebbington, A.J. 1990. Indigenous agriculture in the central
ecuadorian Andes. The cultural ecology and institutional
conditions of its construction and its change. PhD thesis,
Graduate School of Geography, Clark University, Worcester, USA

Bentley, J. 1989. What farmers don't know can't help them: the
strengths and weaknesses of indigenous technical knowledge in
Honduras. Agriculture and Human Values, Summer 1989, 25-30

Chambers, R. 1990. Micro-Environments Unobserved. Gatekeeper
Series No. 22, Sustainable Agriculture Programme. IIED, London

Fairhead, J. R. 1990. Fields of struggle: towards a social
history of farming knowledge and practice in a Bwisha village,
Kivu, Zaire. PhD dissertation, School of Oriental and African
Studies, University of London

Trutmann, P., J. Voss & J. Fairhead, 1991. Disease control in
bean cultivation systems of the Great Lakes Region of Africa.
Tropical Pest Management (forthcoming)


Somesh Kumar(1)
Formerly: Assistant Collector, Anantapur District
Andhra Pradesh, India

Now: Sub-Collector, Bodhan, Nizamabad District


A Santhi Kumari
Assistant Collector, Karimnagar District
Andhra Pradesh, India


We report on a Participatory Rural Appraisal (PRA) conducted
over two and a half days in the village of Thippapur, of Cherla
Mandal in Khammam district of Andhra Pradesh State in India. It
was selected because Thippapur is an entirely tribal village,
virtually cut off from the rest of the world by being located in
the interior of the forest. We wanted to see the applicability
of PRA in an isolated tribal village for plan preparation for
local development by the villagers. The present paper, however,
touches some of our experiences with respect the methods used.

The Village

Thippapur is a remote tribal inhabitation close to the Madhya
Pradesh Andhra Pradesh border, surrounded by forest on all
sides. A country track connects the village to its mandal(2)
headquarters. There is no public transport available whatsoever
and the village is yet to be electrified. All the houses in the
village are thatched and the only two pucca buildings are the G
C C(3) Depot and the school.

The People

The people are from an ethnic group called 'Koyas'. There are 63
households in the village divided into two clusters with a
distinct gap in between. To a common eye they all look alike.
But a deeper probe did reveal that a rigid social stratification
exists between them. Koyas have a social hierarchy which has
four communities in all, each having a specific status in their
society. They are Dorasetty Koyas, Linga Koyas, Koyas and
Gothilla/Gutta Koyas in that order. Thippapur is inhabited by
the Koyas and Gothillas. The Koyas look down upon Gothillas who
are settlers from other places and there also exists a distinct
gap between their hutments.

Enter the Village

In order to reach people as individuals rather than officers, we
made our visit to the village in-cognito. We left the jeep and
with only a few people accompanying us outside the village, and
entered it on foot. Our first acquaintances in the village were
children! A flock of them playing on and under a huge tamarind
tree at the very entrance and their agility reminded us of
little monkeys. When we approached them with the best smiles, a
majority of them ran away at least for 1/4 of a kilometre and
stopped. We had no other way but to force another smile and
enter the village.

The houses of the village are located on either side of a country
track which passes right through the village. As we entered the
village we saw a few Koyas, but there were no traces of any
curiosity on their faces. Their apathy gave us the first shock.
Our attempts to enter into their community proved to be futile.
However, we kept on cheering the children who are in good numbers
in any corner of the village. To our fortune, a few of them were
willing to walk with us and so we proceeded further with them in
order to see the whole village first.

As mentioned earlier, there is a gap between the houses making
the village look like two distinct pieces. As we ventured to
enter into the other part with our companions, suddenly we heard
the adults of the front part of the village shouting at their
children and saying something to them in Koya dialect. Since we
couldn't comprehend the language we asked the children what it is
all about. They explained to us that they are being warned by
their parents not to enter this part of the village. To a
question as to why they are asked so, these kids ran away without
telling anything, leaving us in utter perplexity. The only
problem that came to our minds was 'Naxalites'(4) which indeed
made us think twice before taking another forward step but
thankfully enough that was only momentary. We moved ahead.

As we entered this Gothilla inhabitation, there was not just the
apathy, but also a lot of hostility towards us. Despite our
repeated attempts to speak to them, people remained cold and
silent. We settled down with a family which was sitting under a
tree, the male member was busy making a wooden implement. We
looked forward to break the silence and the opportunity came
after some time when we got a chance to help him in making the
wooden implement (by the co-author) and do up the hair of the
woman (co-authoress). But this could hardly be claimed any
breakthrough because, our repeated appeals to let us have an
entry into their house were flatly turned down. Also we noticed
that through they claimed that they just can not follow Telugu,
they do understand it and can reply. (The Koya tribe speak their
own dialect but know Telugu language reasonably well).

The Initial Despair

It was almost for 4 hours that we were roaming in the village
and trying to establish rapport with the villagers, and we were
increasingly thrown into disheartment. Then we pondered over the

whole experience and wondered whether PRA is of any applicability
in a tribal village whose lifestyles and culture are so vastly
different from others. Also we reviewed whether we missed any
opportunity to bridge the gap between 'us' and 'them'.

The Ice is Broken

We came back to the GCC building where we planned to camp since
it was already 2.00 pm. We had not carried any lunch along since
we thought that we could make some arrangement in the village
itself. But after the wishers of hectic effort, it was clear
enough that camping in the village was not going to be any cake
walk. So, we had to send our people to fetch food for us from
the nearby mandal headquarters. By the time we finished our
lunch, it was around 3.30 pm. Many villagers who were not there
when we landed in the village had come back. Many of them
gathered in front of the GCC Depot as if to fetch their
provision. But their big numbers showed us that our presence
began to be felt in the village and perhaps they are interested
in interaction. We greeted them and introduced ourselves by our
first names and explained to them that we wished to live with
them for a few days to study their life and understand their
problems. This received a positive response and there was a
preliminary exchange of information. While it was going on we
noticed more and more people gathering. So, we proposed that we
may all sit under a tree, since the afternoon was very hot, and
carry on.

...and We Were Accepted

We all settled down under a big tamarind tree and the initial
curiosities raised a high pitch. We learnt a great deal about
their culture, practices, etc. A little later we asked one of
the slightly grown up children to come forward to distribute the
toffees we had with us. The distribution evoked a lot of
happiness and satisfaction among the adults, and perhaps they are
more convinced that we are 'friends' only. Consequently, the
situation relaxed and conversation became more open and serious.

Splitting into Small Groups

As the conversation became more serious, we noticed only a few
people were sitting close to us and talking, the rest were non-
participant bystanders. We thought should this continue, some
of them might completely lose interest and depart the group. So,
three of us (two authors + a helper who is also a Koya) divided
the whole group into smaller sub-groups so that we could engage
all of them and not miss any information. The natural
accessibility phenomenon of woman engaging women, men for men was
followed. Fortunately, the conversation got focused
automatically on more personal difficulties. One group tried
mapping and the remaining two separately on seasonality, Venn-
diagramming etc.

The Mapping

When we expressed our desire to know about their village. Many
villagers started explaining us what is where by naming the
direction and indicating them also. Some of them used their
fingers to draw on the ground to explain to us. We offered them
a sheet of paper and a few sketch pens and requested them to draw
a map of the village. But, they refused to do so saying that
they are all illiterate and so can't handle paper and pen. We
had to convince and encourage them that there is no special
difficulty in using them and they can be used with equal ease as
they do with finger on the ground. After some time, the youth
agreed to take the lead and in no time many more were drawn
towards it. Initially they found colours and paper inhibiting
perhaps as reflected in their reluctance and also in using a
register to draw straight lines representing the road. Gradually
the traditional wisdom came out and they did the job with utmost

The mapping went on very systematically. They firstly drew the
road and placed houses either sides of it exactly as many houses
as they are on the ground. Although all houses have scattered
all over, they represented them in linear order. Other features
like their agricultural fields, tanks, streams and location of
hand pumps and other community structures were depicted on the

The mapping not only helped us understand the village but also
opened new concepts in understanding the capabilities of these
people. If we help/facilitate their traditional wisdom and
reduce the levels of inhibitions, perhaps we will have much more
to learn from them.

We broke after the mapping was done since it was already 6 pm
and women expressed their need to attend to household work. So,
the rest of the time we spent discussing their seasonal
activities with the few people who were left with us.

We Are One

During the daytime conversation, we tried to explore their lyrics
and dance styles, which they enjoyed explaining to us. So, it
was decided to have a session that night. Unlike the non-tribal
villages, in tribal villages, people go to sleep very late.
Around 9.30 pm when it was all pitch dark (since the village is
not yet electrified) the Koyas expression of life and culture
began in the light of camp fire. A few men tied bells around
their ankles and beat drums heavily, and women sang on a slow
rhythm. Men and women danced together and separately. While the
dance of men is heavy matching the thythm of the drums women
moved their steps gracefully to their simple harmonies. We
ourselves joined in the festivities. The joining of hands and
steps bridged the gaps and the jubilant members for the first
time cracked jokes with us. Perhaps the feelings of 'us' and
'them' gave way to the concept of 'oneness' and we carried it on
till midnight when we were exhausted.

Helping the Silent to Speak

Next day, we had no difficulty gathering people soon after they
woke up; many of them came to us. We expressed our desire to see
the things on ground as they exist. As we were discussing the
plan of action, we noticed again that the dialogue is captured by
a few and a majority of them shutting off. So, we divided the
group into two one entirely comprised of those who are vocal
and the other of those who are keeping silent; and took them
separately for a round of the village (not exactly a transect).

A few hours of going around with them walking through their
fields and forests was extremely enlightening. Even the ones who
kept quiet in the beginning explained to us thoroughly in the
simplest language where they wanted a check-dam on the stream,
why the tanks bunds height has to be revised, why sluices have to
be shifted etc.

Thippapur Method: An Alternative to Venn Diagramming

a) We requested the villagers to name the departments they
interact with regularly. We encouraged them to recollect the
names. We noted down all the names.

b) The villagers were asked to select stones representing various
departments. The stone size was to be proportionate to the
importance they attach to each department (ie. the bigger the
stone, the more important is the department/institution to

c) When stones were selected and named accordingly, we asked them
again and clarified/confirmed.

d) During the next part of the exercise, we made a small circle
on the ground and said it represents their village. We then
asked them to place the stones in or near the circle. The
guiding rule was that the degree of proximity is proportionate
to the liking ("ishtam" in Telugu) they have for each
department. The closer a stone is placed to the circle the
closer the department is to their hearts.

The villagers were very quick to grasp the concept. Selecting
and placing the stones evoked a lot of discussion among them, but
quick consensus too. This helped us understand two aspects
simultaneously. How important a given institution is to their
lives, and how far the same department succeeded in reaching
them. Interesting revelations emerged. For example, ITDA(5)
which was recognized by them as the most important department
(biggest stone), was kept just outside the village. Similarly,
the Forest, Excise and Policy Departments were kept very far from
the village (their conflicts with them are well known). Their
own system of village elders is the most dear to them and was
placed inside the circle representing the village. The GCC got
a place on the fringes, perhaps representing an acceptance of
their services but as an outsider (Figure 1).

Figure 1.

Circle indicating
their village

7 8


1 ITDA 4 6
3 Traditional Institution of Village Elders (their Panchayat)
4 Education Department (runs Primary School)
5 Health Department (supposed to look after)
6 Land Revenue Department (land matters)
7 Forest
8 Police
9 Excise

The Village Model

The villagers had already explained during the round of the
village what they want for the development of village, especially
with respect to irrigation, agriculture etc. This had been
incorporated in the map they drew earlier, but we thought,
presenting the map to the whole village would not only be
confusing, but also difficult to comprehend. Making a model of
the village on the ground was thought to be a better option. It
was almost evening. Most of the villagers were out to the nearby
weekly market. We thought instead of waiting for others, we
would make a beginning that might attract others. The children
came to our rescue in realising this idea. When we asked them to
make a big square using small stones besides the road, they
participated with great enthusiasm. This activity attracted a
lot of people and at this point, we explained to them that a
village model that was to be made. Again their participation and
method of modelling was fascinating. They marked the road,
demarcated forests, borewells all around. They used stones to
represent houses names and twigs to represent important trees.
Locally available material different colour soils, sand, stone,
twigs were used. For marking all the changes/proposals they
wanted for the village, a pink colour powder which we had carried
from outside was used. While a few of them were actually making,
many of them present also gave a number of suggestions. After
completion, they presented a village plan to the villagers which
evoked a lot of discussion regarding their development proposals
and after discussions changes were incorporated in a few cases.

The Resentment

However there was some resentment among some of the villagers
because, they felt that they are asked to do the same thing time
and again ie. what they wanted and where. Because, initially, it
was mapping the previous day, transect in the morning and
modelling in the evening. We felt it was true! We should have
avoided one of them......perhaps mapping.

Wealth Ranking

To understand their concept of wealth with the idea that it might
help us in developing insights into their outlook which would
also help us examining the ongoing developmental programmes vis-
a-vis their concept of economic growth.

The exercise involved the following steps:

a) A list of all households in the village was prepared on the
basis of the names available with the GCC Depot Register of
ration cards (on which commodities are sold to them).

b) Some names have been written individually on small slips.

c) A few villagers (6 of them) who were interested were invited
for the exercise and asked to categorise their people on a
wealth scale from the richest to the poorest.

e) After all the slips were sorted, 3 slips were selected from
each group and villagers were asked to explain why they did
place each one in a particular category and not in the other.
They were allowed to make any changes whenever they felt like.

Their criteria of wealth generally was based primarily on size
of the agricultural holding and a little on the number of
animals owned. The animal husbandry and collection of MFPs(6)
actually contribute significantly to their economy and bail
them out in lean periods. Still it is the largely land which
gives them higher/lower status. Perhaps this is the reason
why they were insisting all the time only about irrigation
facilities whenever they talked of their problems and plans
for development.

For ration cards, the villagers show themselves as separate units
but are still perceived as a single household by the villagers.
As we had used the list from the GCC Depot to save time which was
premium for us, it created confusion at times.

The Seasonality Analysis

This analysis was done to know the income expenditure dynamics
of Koyas vis-a-vis the seasons. The precise objective is to
identify the stress periods and their survival mechanisms during
that time. But, whenever we asked them as to when a particular
event/activity takes place, the reply invariably was "we do not
know". After sometime, we realized that it is not really "not

knowing", but since the method of time keeping between them and
us was different, they were simply being negative perhaps
because, they knew that they could not say it in our time scale.
Therefore, we decided to represent the time to them in their
scale as far as possible. We went about it as follows:

o We took the broad seasons known to them Summer, Winter and
Rainy season

o We used their festivals as the markers on the seasonal time

o For our sake we superimposed their time scale on our 12 month
January-December calendar. Thus, a scale which can be used by
both of us was produced (ie) they spoke in their terms and we
plotted them against our calendar

o We identified agricultural activities (labour, harvest), MFP
collection, wage employment and husbandry practices as major
income accruing activities and plotted them

o The main expenditures are marriages, diseases and festivals.
Marriages and festivals mean heavy expenditure to them because
of community feasts etc.

We found that every family in the village was in debt. These
loans taken were generally for consumption purposes. The
moneylenders were the shopkeepers from Cherla town and a few
landholders from other villages. The rates of interest varied
from 24 percent to 50 percent per annum. It was interesting to
see how the animals and birds they reared were used during the
stress period. They had a solution for the problem in form of an
assistance to them in form of a revolving fund placed at the
disposal of their village elders (a traditional institution).
They wanted an amount of Rs.25,000 and also wanted to form their
own rules etc.


We felt that our desire to learn about their local medicines,
beliefs in super-natural forces and more on seasonal issues could
not be realized due to time constraint.

The third day, we devoted to the review of our work, preparing an
Action Plan based on what villagers suggested to us during the
earlier two days.

We were particular about preparing an Action Plan in the village
itself rather than writing it in our office and then returning

1. We felt that if some information gaps existed, they should
be filled there and then; returning a second time would
involve a lot of delay.

2. After sometime, the plans may not be as spontaneous or
represent what people need or want.

3. Above all, the chances of forgetting are significant.

The moments of leaving the village were memorable. The people
wished us well and asked us to keep visiting them.


Some broad lessons and points to ponder:

1. The initial difficulties of "breaking the ice" with
villagers should not deter us.

2. Two days is not enough; a day more might have been optimal.
Due to the short time available the seasonality analysis was
just done by us on their giving the information rather than
them doing it themselves. Many other areas remained

3. Children are always a great help.

4. Being the best judge of the situation, and bringing changes
in the methods to adopt to the situation is the essence of
the PRA techniques and too much emphasis on the methodology
aspect is not called for.

5. A failure of ours was with respect to involving the Guthila
Koyas, who were somewhat less open than the other Koyas.
The problem is more acute in caste villages where close
identification with one caste groups may mean loss of many

6. The paper and colour pens etc. though attractive also work
as inhibitors methods more familiar to the villagers and
having more visual impact are preferable.

7. Having a woman as one of team members was a great advantage
in involving women, which is difficult for an all-men team.

8. Going for a subtle entrance into the village without
informing the people in advance may be a great experience
in itself, but whether it is required we could not finally
reach a consensus. But if a government official goes after
making his schedule known, it somehow an expectations and
the people generally start behaving as they think they are

9. How their traditional institutions can be fruitfully linked
with the government agencies for selecting people and
projects, and for grounding them has yet to be explored


1. Somesh Kumar is now Sub-Collector, BODHAN, PC No. 503 185,
Dist. Nizamabad, Andhra Pradesh, India.

2. An intermediary administrative unit between the village and

3. Girizan Cooperative Corporation (Girijan = Giri: Hill, Jan
= population). A Corporation meant to purchase all the
forest produce collected by the tribes. This is to avoid
middlemen exploiting the tribes by ensuring markets to their
collected produce and fair prices. A wing of it is D R
Depot (Daily Requirement Depot) which keeps all groceries
needed by tribes and supplies them at reasonable prices.

4. There are a band of insurgents concentrated mostly in the
Dandakaranya belt of forests in India. They are follow
Marxist Leninist Maoist ideology of class struggle and
annihilation of class enemies. They fight against the
existing system to bring in the Marxist-Leninist-Maoist
brand of social order.

5. Integrated Tribal Development Agency which operates in areas
which are having tribals as predominant inhabitants. As the
name suggests, it is a government agency looking after the
welfare of the tribals through its development activities.

6. Minor Forest Produce. These are Beedi leaves, Gums, Honey,
some kinds of seeds, nuts etc. on which the people collect
and market.


In April of this year, some 850 readership surveys were sent out
to recipients of RRA Notes with issue No. 10. We had received
185 returns by the end of October, 98 from 34 countries in the
south (12 in Africa, 17 in Asia and 5 in Latin America), and 87
from 13 countries in the North (Europe, North America,
Australasia and Japan). The results of the survey are presented
here, and the implications of the findings are discussed. These
findings are but a summary of the wealth of valuable comments
contained on the forms. The originals are to be kept in our
London offices, and any reader is welcome to investigate further
if they so wish.

Readers of RRA Notes

The first question asked how may people, on average, read each
issue of RRA Notes you receive. It would appear that southern
readers are more likely to share their copy of RRA Notes compared
with those in the north.

South North

Readership per copy 6.3 3.8

Proportion of readers
not sharing 8% 22%

Recipients (at end
October 1991) 727 529

Extrapolated readership 4580 2010

The total extrapolated readership of RRA Notes in 65 countries is
currently 6590 people.

Comments on Content and Relevance of RRA Notes

The second question asked readers to rank what they found most
interesting in RRA Notes. The fifth asked whether articles had
been of direct or practical help in readers' work, and if so to
give one or two examples of the field and contexts in which they
had been of most help. The sixth asked whether there were any
topics readers would like to see covered in future issues.

Readers ranked the detailed discussions of field experiences most
often in the top three, followed by articles containing methods
or techniques new to readers, and then details of the innovative
use of methods.

The remaining four categories were less popular, though one
reader did add "But all are interesting. None should be

Proportion of Readers Ranking as

First Second Third

a) Reports on workshops 5% 4% 5%
b) Detailed discussions of
field experiences 46% 9% 26%
c) Lists of new publications 8% 5% 9%
d) Articles containing methods
or techniques new to you 41% 31% 15%
e) Details of the innovative
use of methods 24% 35% 22%
f) Announcement of workshops/
conferences 2% 1% 2%
g) Occasional publication of
RRA practitioner lists 3% 1% 4%

[Note: these do not add to 100% as some readers ranked more than
one category as first, second or third]

The majority of readers said they have found the articles of
direct practical help in their work.

South North

Proportion of readers finding
articles of direct practical
help 87% 78%

The fields of work where articles have been most helpful have
been agricultural research and development, training, and
forestry. The breakdown is as follows (there is no significant
difference between readers in the south or north):

Mentioned by more than 40 readers

Agricultural research and development (56)
Training and provision of training materials (45)

Mentioned by more than 20 readers

Forestry, fuelwood, social and agro forestry (34)
Extension (27)
Planning for formal surveys (22)

Mentioned by more than 10 readers

Health, nutrition and primary health care (18)
FSR surveys and involving farmers in FSR (10)

Mentioned by less than 10 readers

Planning (6)
Ideas for developing new methods, eg. participatory
evaluations (6)
Fisheries (3)
Gender analysis and planning (3)
On-farm research (3)
Project identification and preparation (3)
Irrigation (2)
Urban (2)
Water and Sanitation (2)
Village development plans (2)
Tricks of the trade (2)

Fields mentioned only once included working with farmers,
identifying community needs, oral histories, land tenure
improvement, rural food processing, development of management
information systems, designing research, animal husbandry,
baseline studies, journalism, vulnerability analysis and making
participation possible.

The question following this asked readers if there were topics
they would like to see covered in the future. These were wide
ranging, mostly overlapping with the above categories. The list
is as follows:

More participatory methods, link between RRA and PRA, degradation
avoidance, refugee situations, when RRA hasn't worked and why,
waste management, women in development, child nutrition,
traditional management systems, water resources, health
emergencies, vulnerability, use of RRA by NGOs, motivational
issues for practitioners, soil and water conservation, RRA and
autopromotion, attitudes change, M&E, non-agricultural rural
development issues, training in RRA, institutional analysis,
gender training, farmer assessments of experiments, fisheries,
institutional power versus local power, repertory grids and other
tools to elicit concepts, agroforestry, livestock, economic
appraisals, assessment of household food security, information
perception not just collection, tree tenure, agricultural
tools, organic agriculture, literacy and primary education,
farmer-managed irrigation systems, time-budget research concepts
of PRA, savings and credit schemes, EIA, review of
RRA/PRA/PALM/RAP etc, dealing with bureaucracies, small
enterprise development, RRA for community health and
epidemiology, RRA successes, data presentation and reporting,
training of top-down staff, pollution, pest control, poultry
population assessment, regional reviews of what has happened with

Comments on the Quality of RRA Notes

The third question asked readers to comment on the format,
specifying any changes desired. The seventh asked how RRA Notes
compares with other journals, newsletters or sources of


Proportion of returns indicating:

Excellent 15% 12%
Good 74% 73%
Adequate 11% 15%

No reader circled poor or very poor. We did ask for suggestions
for improvement from those circling adequate or worse. Some
suggested changes to the printing style, such as using desk-top
publishing to reduce the page size to A5, or simply photocopying
two pages onto one to reduce the weight of the issue. However,
one reader put the opposite view, "I bet you can't avoid the
temptation to upgrade". Others felt the need for executive
summaries or abstracts at the head of article, a table of
contents on the outside page, page numbers in to upper right hand
corner of pages, and the production of an index. In terms of
appearance, several felt the need for more diagrams and
photographs, and that RRA should be spelt out on the first page.
Binding is sometimes a problem, particularly with the larger
issues. RRA Notes also does not store well in libraries. A
selection of quotes follows:

Comparison with other journals

"Much simpler to read than journals, very little jargon and is
applicable to a wide range of fields"

"The language is to the point and simple"

"Gives practical examples without going into the unnecessary
depth of most journals"

"Refreshingly to the point, please don't become just another
academic 'development journal'"

"Please do not make a fancy 'formal' publication of RRA Notes!"

"It is unique in this area"

"RRA Notes is very useful in my daily work"

"More practical but empirically better grounded than academic
articles on popular material"


"RRA Notes is very much like other journals where researchers
write down what they have found in order to justify the money put
into them. On the other hand it is refreshingly informal which
pleases extensionists like myself".


On the turnaround

"The fast turnaround is good, it is as outlet for experiences in
the making"

"Quick, low-cost production, easy to photocopy"

"Quick, efficient, to the point: excellent!"

"Its simple plain format has the merit of getting information out
cost-effectively in a timely fashion"

On article length

"Articles are of a length which allows you to make use of them -
don't know of anything comparable"

"Due to shortness of the articles, contributors run to risk that
their ideas are taken out of context"

"Danger of mechanistic application of methods out of context"

"Brief, to the point, easily understood"

"Short format is very good for busy people"

On article content: practical experiences versus theoretical

"It's practical and encourages innovation"

"Keep it as current as possible to encourage communication
between readers and writers"

"Realistic and practical write-ups with simplified language"

"It focuses on reality, it is pragmatic"

"It has a good combination of practical and theoretical"

"RRA Notes treats issues of practical value and shares real life

"Full of real life experience"

"It's exceptional: merits are good on case studies, experiences
gained; shortcomings not particularly good on end results or
achievements and how to transfer"

"It gives particular information that is more related to our
daily work"

"Good stuff, real news from the field"

"It discusses in great detail field experience and new methods
which are of great use to us"

"It is good at sharing practical experiences as opposed to
textbook information"

"RRA Notes deal with things in a simple manner, good for ordinary

On article content: learning from others' mistakes

"Welcome opportunity to learn from other peoples' mistakes -
often censored from other journals"

"People feel free to talk about less as well as more successful
ventures. This is very important and helpful"

"Informal and informative"

"Merits are informality and frankness"

"Self-criticising is a new methodological approach"

On article content: style

"I enjoy the informal, personal nature of RRA Notes"

"It is innovative, not too pompous"

"Occasional article appears trivial"

"I love it! It's unpretentious and to the point"

"Encourages publication of very practical experiences"

Comments from IIED on Charging Policy and Mailing List Update

The readership survey has been a great help in enabling us to get
a feel for the merits and drawbacks of RRA Notes. We don't
propose to deal with each concern as raised, save to say that all
comments will be seriously considered.

We are left, however, with two important decisions. As the
mailing list expands, so the costs of production and distribution
grow, and we are faced with the prospect of introducing a charge
for RRA Notes. We believe that because RRA Notes is free, more
people receive and then read each issue. However, there are many
convincing arguments that willingness to pay is a good measure of
value. We would very much appreciate readers' views on this
issue. One option we are seriously considering is to charge
readers in the north for their issues of RRA Notes, as they are
less likely to share their issues of RRA Notes. They also have
access to foreign exchange. Does this sound reasonable?

The second issue relates to the update of the mailing list. We
have decided to review the mailing list, as some recipients may
have moved or may not find RRA Notes useful. The last page of

this issue of RRA Notes contains a tear off form. Please fill
this in and return to IIED and your name will remain on the
mailing list. As a reward, all readers who sent in the yellow
readership survey forms are exempt. Their names have already
been forwarded to the 1992 list. Please copy the form to anyone
else whom you feel should also be on the list.


1. Harvesting Local Forestry Knowledge: A Clarification

As it is FAO policy that employees are not permitted to publish
without permission, we should clarify the fact that Andy Inglis
wrote his paper "Harvesting Local Forestry Knowledge: A
Comparison of RRA and Conventional Surveys" (RRA Notes 12: July
1991) when he was an Associate of the Edinburgh Tropical Forestry
Centre. He was not at that time an employee of FAO. He is
currently Environmental Officer in the Tropical Forestry Plan
(TFAP) with responsibility for developing NGO involvement and
peoples participation in TFAP, and would welcome any suggestions
for involving NGOs and participation in the TFAP process.

He can be contacted at TFAP, FAO, via delle Terme di Caracalla,
Rome 00100, Italy.

2. Videos

Several videos are now available that show the use of various
RRA, PRA and related methods.

1. PRA in Kempenanhally village, Karnataka
Available from Vidya Ramachandran, MYRADA, No. 2 Service Road
Domlur Layout, Bangalore, India
Price; Rs 500.

2. Participatory Research with Women Farmers
Made by ICRISAT and available from T.V.E, Post Box 7, 3700 AA
Zeist, The Netherlands (Tel 31-3404-20499; fax 31-3404-22484)
cost is 20.00 to institutions in the north, but it is free of
charge to organizations in the south.

3. Farmers diagramming nutrient flows on their farms, Malawi:
Available from Clive Lightfoot, ICLARM, PO Box 1501, Makati,
Metro Manila 1299, the Philippines
Price: enquire

4. The IFRPA Method
Available from Jacqueline Ashby, CIAT, Apartado Aereo 6713,
Cali Colombia
Price: enquire

5. Watershed PRA and Women's PRA
Made by ASA, Trichy, and available via Sheelu Francis, 63 SRP
Colony, Madras 600 082

3. Notice on Networking

Clive Lightfoot, the Association for Farming Systems Research
and Extension's board member for Networking is compiling a
computerised data base on networks interested in or carrying
information relevant to any or all aspects of farming systems
research and extension. This data base and the software to
run it will be made available with a manual to all network
offices. Clive would be grateful if you could fill out all or
part of the form below and mail it to him at:

International Center for Living Aquatic Resources Management, MC
PO Box 1501, Makati, Metro Manila 1299, Philippines.

For those with fax machines or e-mail, responses can be sent to:
(63-2) 816-3183 or CGNET CGI226.

For the most part the form is self explanatory. Membership type
seeks to know whether membership is open or by invitation and
whether members are individuals or institutions. A simple yes or
no is sought for whether the network publishes a newsletter or

NETWORK NAME--------------------------------------------
ADDRESS ------------------------------------------------------

COORDINATOR/CONTACT PERSON:------------------------------







4. Reports Received

a) Handbook on Land Use Mapping Resources and Sketch Mapping
for Bangladesh

This handbook is edited by Asmeen M Khan, Chun K Lai, Ruby
Quadir and S. Iqbal Ali, and describes the use of mapping and
documents a workshop learning process. The authors hope "it
will stimulate sketch mapping as an effective tool for
research resource management". It is available from:

(1) Winrock International Institute for Agricultural
Development, BARC Complex, Farmgate, Dhaka
Contact person: Dr T B S Mahat, Program Coordinator

(2) Association of Development Agencies in Bangladesh
1/3, Block-F, Lalmatia, Dhaka
Contact person: Dr K S Huda, Executive director.

b) Participatory Rural Appraisal for Planning Health Projects

The Society for People's Education and Economic Change
(SPEECH) have produced another excellent brief report on the
processes of a workshop held in October 1991 in Tamil Nadu.
It contains several innovative uses of methods. It is
available from John Devavaram, 14 Jeyaraja Illam, opp.
Kasirajan Hospital, Tirupalai, Madurai 625 014

c) Joint Forest Management Program

A report of a workshop held at the Gujarat Range Foresters'
College and compiled by VIKSAT, Nehru Foundation for
Development, Thaltej Tekra, Ahmedabad 380 054. The report
describes how the training programme enabled participants to
appreciate the concept of Joint Forest Management and to
develop their skills in micro-level planning. There are
several diagrams.


RRA Notes 1: June 1988

1. RRA Methods Workshop in Thailand
2. Notes of an RRA Meeting held in Sussex
3. Pairwise Ranking in Ethiopia
4. Direct Matrix Ranking in Kenya and
West Bengal
5. Recent Publications

Jules Pretty
Robert Chambers
Gordon Conway

Robert Chambers
Jennifer McCracken

RRA Notes 2: October 1988

1. Using RRA to Formulate a Village Charity Kabutha
Resources Management Plan, Mbusanyi, Kenya & Richard Ford
2. Learning About Wealth: An example from Ian Scoones
3. Investigating Poverty: An example from Sheila Smith
Tanzania and John Sender

RRA Notes 3: December 1988

1. Ranking of Browse Species by Cattlekeepers
in Nigeria
2. Direct Matrix Ranking in Papua New Guinea
3. Sustainability Analysis
4. Oral Histories and Local Calendars
5. Portraits and Stories
6. Bibliographic Notes

Wolfgang Bayer

Robin Mearns
Iain Craig
Robin Mearns
Jules Pretty

RRA Notes 4: February 1989

1. Wealth Ranking in a Caste Area of India

2. Popular Theatre through Video in
Costa Rica
3. Participatory RRA in Gujarat
4. Successful Networking!
5. Distribution List

RRA Notes 5: May 1989

Ruth Grosvenor-Alsop
Keith Anderson

Jennifer McCracken

1. Letter to the Editor Barbara Grandin
2. The "Fertiliser Bush" Game: Kristin Cashman
A Participatory Means of Communication
3. Rapid Appraisal for Fuelwood Planning John Soussan
in Nepal & Els Gevers
4. Rapid Food Security Assessment: Simon Maxwell
A Pilot Exercise in Sudan
5. RRA Has a Role to Play in Developed Countries Peter Ampt
& Raymond Ison

RRA Notes 6: June 1989

1. Rapid Assessment of Artisanal Systems:
A Case Study of Rural Carpentry
Enterprises in Zimbabwe

Godfrey Cromwell

2. The Rural Rides of William Cobbett:
RRA and Sustainable Agriculture in 1820s
3. A Note on the Use of Aerial Photographs
for Land Use Planning on a Settlement Site
in Ethiopia
4. Using Rapid Rural Appraisal for Project M
Identification: Report on a training
exercise in Jama' are Local Government &
Area, Bauchi State, Northern Nigeria
5. Visualising Group Discussions with Ue
Impromptu Cartoons
6. The Use of Community Theatre in A:
Project Evaluation: An Experiment Ma
from Zimbabwe Simbi

Jules Pretty

Dick Sandford

ichael Hubbard,
Robert Leurs
Andrew Nickson

li Scheuermeier

ndrea Cornwall,
thou Chakavanda,
sai Makumbirofa,
Guilter Shumba &

RRA Notes 7: September 1989

Special Issue of proceedings of second joint IDS/IIED RRA Review
Workshop, Sussex, England. Includes summaries of presented
papers on topics of diagrams, aerial photographs, interviews and
groups, ranking, health, participatory approaches, and monitoring
and evaluation, also includes notes on discussions of these
topics, plus the ideology of RRA, the dangers of RRA, training in
RRA, and the future of RRA.

RRA Notes 8: January 1990

1. Nutrition and RRA Judith Appleton
2. The Use of Wealth Ranking in Nutrition
Surveys in Sudan Helen Young
3. The Role of Community Participants in Dessalegn Debebe
RRA Methods in Ethiopia
4. Attitudes to Income-Earning Opportunities: Simon Maxwell
Report of a Ranking Exercise in Ethiopia
5. Economic Classification of a Community Parmesh Shah
Using Locally Generated Criteria
6. Publications: Manuals and Guidelines Jennifer McCracken

RRA Notes 9: August 1990

1. Wealth Ranking: A Method to
Identify the Poorest
2. Rapid Rural Appraisal: Lessons Vict
Learnt from Experiences in the
3. Some Techniques for Rapid Rural
Appraisal of Artisanal Infrastructures
4. Hearing Aids for Interviewing

5. Participatory Rural Appraisal: Is it
Culturally Neutral?
Thoughts from a PRA in Guinea-Bissau

Verona Groverman

,oria Ortega-Espaldon
& Leonardo Florece

Godfrey Cromwell

John Mitchell and
Hugo Slim

Weyman Fussell

RRA Notes 10: February 1991

1. Farmer Participation on On-Farm Varietal
Trials: Multilocational Testing under
Resource Poor Conditions

2. Rural Development in the Highlands of
North America: The Highlander Economic
Education Project
3. Assessing Women's Needs in Gaza Using
Participatory Rapid Appraisal A


The Bias of Interviewing
The Outsider Effect
Focusing Formal Surveys in Tha
A Use for Rapid Rural appraii

The women of
Pastapur, &
Michel Pimbert
John Gaventa &
Helen Lewis

Heather Grady,
mal Abu Daqqa, Fadwa

Hassanein, Fatma Soboh,
Itimad Muhana, Maysoon Louzon,
Noha el-Beheisi, RawhiyaFayyad,
Salwa el-Tibi and Joachim Theis
John Mitchell & Hugo Slim
Ueli Scheuermeier
iland: Karen Ehlers &
sal Christine Martins

RRA Notes 11: May 1991

Special issue of proceedings of joint IIED and Development
Administration Group (University of Birmingham), Local Level
Adaptive Planning Workshop, London. Includes a summary of
workshop presentations and discussions (Jules Pretty and Ian
Scoones) and 15 individual papers covering five thematic areas,
namely: A Critique of Landuse Planning (Barry Dalal-Clayton,
Adrian Wood); Applications of Participatory Planning Approaches
(Tony Gibson, Margie Buchanan Smith and Susanna Davies, Chris
Roche, Melissa Leach); Institutionalising Local Level Planning
(Donald Curtis, Robin Grimble, Martin Adams, Mary Tiffin, Henri
Roggeri, Robert Leurs, Mal Jumare, A Andeley and S Ogede);
Governments and NGOs Linkages (Kate Wellard, Tony Bebbington);
and Organisational and Management Issues (Alan Fowler).

RRA Notes 12: July 1991

1. Some Advantages to Having an Outsider Don Messerschmidt
on the Team
2. Revolutionary Rural Appraisal Susan Johnson
3. Participatory Mapping and Modelling: James Mascarenhas
User's Notes & P D Prem Kumar
4. Rapid Appraisal for Women in the North Mehreen Hosain
West Frontier of Pakistan
5. Harvesting Local Forestry Knowledge:
A Comparison of RRA and Conventional Surveys Andy Inglis
6. Beyond Chapatis Mick Howes
7. Topical Surveys as a Tool for a More
Dynamic Farmer-Extension Worker
Relationship Antony van der Loo
8. End Notes

RRA Notes 13: August 1991

PRA in India: Review and Future Directions James
Mascarenhas, Parmesh Shah, Sam Joseph, Ravi Jayakaran, John
Devavaram, Vidya Ramachandran, Aloysius Fernandez, Robert
Chambers and Jules Pretty


1. PRA and Participatory Learning Methods: Recent Experiences
from MYRADA and South India James Mascarenhas

2. Sharing our Limited Experience for Trainers Aloysius
Fernandez, James Mascarenhas and Vidya Ramachandran

3. Participatory Rural Appraisal and Planning (PRAP): The
Experience of AKRSP Parmesh Shah, Girish Bharadwaj and
Ranjit Ambastha

4. Farmers as Analysts and Facilitators in Participatory Rural
Appraisal and Planning Parmesh Shah, Girish Bharadwaj
and Ranjit Ambastha

5. PRA in Malda District, West Bengal: Report of a Training
Workshop for ActionAid India and Tagore Society for Rural
Development Thomas Joseph and Sam Joseph

6. PRA for Rural Resource Management John Devavaram, Ms
Nalini, J. Vimalnathan, Abdul Sukkar, Krishnan, A P Mayandi
and Karunanidhi

7. Anantapur Experiment in PRA Training Somesh Kumar

8. PRA Camp at Mahilong, Bihar: Krishi Gram Vikas Kendra -
Ravi Jayakaran

9. Wealth Ranking in Mahilong, Bihar Anup Sarkar

10.PRA Approach and Strategy: the HIDA/MYRADA Agroforestry
Programme in Andhra Pradesh Eva Robinson

11.Participatory Impact Monitoring of a Soil and Water
Conservation Programme by Farmers, Extension Volunteers and
AKRSP Parmesh Shah, Girish Bharadwaj and Ranjit Ambastha

12.PRA: A Brief Note on ActionAid's Experience Sam Joseph

13.MYRADA Kamasamudram Project: A Brief Report A L Shivaraja,
Rajendra Prasad, T G Bhat, Anjaneya Reddy, Amarnatha Jadav and
Benedicta Cutinha

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