Front Cover
 Title Page
 Table of Contents
 Getting started: How to begin
 Getting official clearances and...
 Data gathering
 Problem analysis and setting priorities...
 Building community support and...
 Dealing with internal problems
 Increasing effectiveness of community...
 Mobilizing external support
 Handling money
 For further training
 Additional information

Title: Implementing PRA
Full Citation
Permanent Link: http://ufdc.ufl.edu/UF00089956/00001
 Material Information
Title: Implementing PRA a handbook to facilitate participatory rural appraisal
Physical Description: 64 p. : ill., map ; 28 cm.
Language: English
Creator: Oduor-Noah, Elizabeth
Clark University (Worcester, Mass.) -- Program for International Development
Donor: Marianne Schmink ( endowment )
Publisher: Program for International Development, Clark University ;
Program for International Development, Clark University
National Environment Secretariat distributor
Egerton University, Division of Research and Extension distributor
Place of Publication: Worcester MA USA
Nairobi Kenya
Njoro Nakuru Kenya
Publication Date: 1992
Copyright Date: 1992
Subject: Rural development projects -- Planning -- Kenya   ( lcsh )
Sustainable development -- Planning -- Kenya   ( lcsh )
Participatory rural appraisal -- Kenya   ( lcsh )
Rural conditions -- Kenya   ( lcsh )
Genre: federal government publication   ( marcgt )
non-fiction   ( marcgt )
Spatial Coverage: Kenya
Statement of Responsibility: Elizabeth Odour-Noah ... et al..
General Note: "March, 1992."
General Note: " ... draft ..."--P. 2 of cover.
 Record Information
Bibliographic ID: UF00089956
Volume ID: VID00001
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 - 28090393
lccn - 93849444

Table of Contents
    Front Cover
        Front Cover 1
        Front Cover 2
    Title Page
        Title Page
    Table of Contents
        Table of Contents
        Page 1
        Page 2
        Page 3
        Page 4
        Page 5
        Page 6
        Page 7
        Page 8
    Getting started: How to begin
        Page 9
        Page 10
        Page 11
        Page 12
        Page 13
        Page 14
    Getting official clearances and briefing community leaders
        Page 15
        Page 16
        Page 17
        Page 18
        Page 19
        Page 20
    Data gathering
        Page 21
        Page 22
        Page 23
        Page 24
        Page 25
        Page 26
    Problem analysis and setting priorities for solutions
        Page 27
        Page 28
        Page 29
        Page 30
        Page 31
        Page 32
    Building community support and capacities
        Page 33
        Page 34
        Page 35
        Page 36
        Page 37
        Page 38
    Dealing with internal problems
        Page 39
        Page 40
        Page 41
        Page 42
        Page 43
        Page 44
        Page 45
        Page 46
    Increasing effectiveness of community groups
        Page 47
        Page 48
        Page 49
        Page 50
    Mobilizing external support
        Page 51
        Page 52
        Page 53
        Page 54
        Page 55
        Page 56
    Handling money
        Page 57
        Page 58
        Page 59
        Page 60
        Page 61
        Page 62
        Page 63
    For further training
        Page 64
    Additional information
        Page 65
        Page 66
        Page 67
Full Text



This Handbook is in DRAFT form. As with any type of field manual, we feel
that the most efficient way to produce an effective product is to test it in its
working environment, receive comments and suggestions, and revise accord-
ingly. We request that you send suggestions, additional examples, and
comments for improving this publication to Richard Ford at Clark University,
Elizabeth Odour-Noah at NES, or Francis Lelo at Egerton University.

For copies of this draft version, contact:

Program for International Development
Clark University
950 Main Street
Worcester, MA 01540-1477

National Environment Secretariat
PO Box 67839

Egerton University
Division of Research and Extension
PO Box 536
Njoro, Nakuru

Price is US$8.00. Agencies working in the field can request a waiver of fee.

This paper is published by Clark University and reports on work supported by Social and Institutional Aspects of Regional Resource Systems (SARSA)
Cooperative Agreement No. DHR 5452-AA-00-9083 at Clark University, the Insitute for Development Anthropology, and the Virginia Polytechnic Institute
and State University, funded by the US Agency for International Development, Bureau of Research and Development, Office of Economic and Insitutional
Development. The views and interpretations in this publication are those of the authors and should not be attributed to the Agency for International
Development or to any individual acting on its behalf.


A Handbook to Facilitate Participatory Rural Appraisal

Elizabeth Odour-Noah
Isabella Asamba
National Environment Secretariat (NES)
Ministry of Environment and Natural

Richard Ford
Lori Wichhart
Program for International
Clark University

Francis Lelo
Egerton University
Njoro, Kenya

March, 1992

Published with support from the United States Agency for International Development, Grant Number 615-0510-C-0-1002

Program for International Development
Clark University
Worcester, MA 01610


Many organizations have assisted in developing
PRA. This Handbook is supported with a grant from the
US Agency for International Development. Preparatory
work has received assistance from the Ford Foundation,
The Conservation, Food, and Health Trust, and The
John N. Taylor Jr. Foundation. Collaborating institu-
tions in field research include the National Environment
Secretariat, Egerton University, and the African Centre
for Technology Studies -- all in Kenya. We continue to
be indebted to Robert Chambers, Gordon Conway, and

the International Insitute for Environment and Develop-
ment (London) and their pioneering work in Rapid
Rural Appraisal. We also acknowledge contributions
from the World Resources Insitute which assisted in
publication of the initial PRA Handbook. Finally, we
are indebted to many NGOs, UNICEF/Kenya, district
and division technical officers, and hundreds of village
leaders who have helped to make PRA more effective in
the field, as well as to use PRA to enhance village
livelihood systems.

Table of Contents

Foreword 1

Introduction 3

1. Getting Started: How to Begin 9

2. Getting Official Clearances and Briefing Community Leaders 15

3. Data Gathering 21

4. Problem Analysis and Setting Priorities for Solutions 27

5. Building Community Support and Capacities 33

6. Dealing with Internal Problems 39

7. Increasing Effectiveness of Community Groups 47

8. Mobilizing External Support 51

9. Handling Money 57

10. Epilogue 61

Cover Photo: This photograph,
taken by Barbara Thomas-Slayter,
shows a women's group building a
check dam after completing a PRA
exercise in their community.


This Handbook takes another step toward helping
communities introduce sustainable development. It
suggests how village groups can implement plans they
have created using Participatory Rural Appraisal (PRA).
It tells chiefs, women's group leaders, farm cooperative
officers, teachers, clergy, political representatives, and
many informal leaders about the experiences of other
rural communities in launching rural development. This
Handbook is Volume II of a continuing series, designed
to help village institutions plan, organize, implement,
manage, and evaluate village-based development projects
within their own communities.

Volume I in the PRA series, published in 1990 and
entitled The PRA Handbook,1 helps extension officers,
researchers, NGO staff, and project officers to join with
community groups to design PRA Community Action
Plans.2 An abbreviated example of such a plan appears
on page 30. This volume takes the PRA village plans

and recommendations and offers advice to technical
officers and local leaders about how to implement them
in ways that the rural community can sustain.

Depending on responses from the field, this volume
may eventually appear in two versions. One would be
this edition, prepared for field, research, and evaluation
staff who seek detailed information on organizing and
implementing Participatory Rural Appraisal. If demand
seems sufficient, we will produce an abridged version
as a companion volume, for those who work directly in
rural communities including chiefs, women's group
leaders, and other village opinion makers who seek on-
the-ground guidance to implement PRA.

A brief background note may be helpful. PRA first
emerged in Kenya in 1988, a direct outgrowth of Rapid
Rural Appraisal. Its original target was community
mobilization for improved resources management. It

'Kabutha, Charity, Barbara Thomas-
Slayter, and Richard Ford. Participa-
tory Rural Appraisal Handbook, WRI,
NES, Egerton, and Clark, 1990.

'Originally, the PRA actions plans were
known as Village Resource Manage-
ment Plans (VRMP). PRA field activi-
ties of the last two years have indicated
that a more broadly based Community
Action Plan (CAP) is a better title for the
community-based PRA recommenda-
tions for action.

led communities through procedures to develop Village
Resource Management Plans (VRMPs). Examples of
PRA actions and accomplishments are found on page
32. Since 1988, many experiences have revised PRA
considerably from its original design.

At least three differences are worth noting, First,
PRA has become more broadly based. In its original
focus, PRA was concerned mostly with natural resources
management -- soil conservation, water development,
forestry, and sustainable grazing and agricultural prac-
tices. During the intervening years, it has been used
effectively in community-based mother and child health,
income generation, marketing, and water/sanitation in
addition to resource efforts. As a result, the original
goals of sustainable resources management are now set
more broadly as Community Action Plans (CAP).

Second, PRA has supported sector-specific initia-
tives in which theme-centered donor agencies have
conducted sector-based PRAs. Whereas the original
PRA design called for an open-ended, resource-based
dialogue between community leaders and the PRA team,
the approach has also been used on sector topics. For
example, UNICEF staff have been pleased with results
in community health and child-centered concerns; exten-
sion staff from the Ministry of Water Development are
actively pursuing uses for water analysis and implemen-
tation; forestry groups have found it helpful for tree
nursery and woodland management activities.

Third, PRA is now viewed as a vehicle through
which capacity building among community institutions
takes place. CARE/Kenya uses it to introduce village
training on financial management, technical support,
and community leadership. Egerton University has
formed a new Centre to use PRA to collaborate with
community institutions. While the first view of PRA did
not include village institution strengthening, there is no
reason why it cannot be used effectively in this manner.

Given these innovations this Handbook too is a
document in transition. We urge that field users send
comments. It is through direct communication with
users that PRA will continue to grow and adapt as field
needs change.

The authors wish to thank colleagues who have
helped to make this Handbook possible, including:
Charity Kabutha, Barbara Thomas-Slayter, Nicholas
Mageto, Jim Dunn, David Richards, Joseph Ayieko,
Julie Okeyo, and Njoki Mbuthi.

Elizabeth Oduor-Noah
Isabella Asamba
National Environment Secretariat (NES)

Richard Ford
Lori Wichhart
Clark University

Francis Lelo
Egerton University


A Rationale and Explanation of

Participatory Rural Appraisal

About PRA

PRA is a new way to systematize a Now the community will have water. Before PRA we
very old approach to rural development: knew the technical needs but could not mobilize the village
community participation. PRA offers a groups or get money. Now the village has created a plan,
significant alternative to centrally planned people are prepared to do the work, and community groups
and externally managed development ef-
and externally managed development ef- are ready to raise whatever money is needed. We will soon
forts, many of which have proven diffi-
cult to sustain. Ultimately, among the have water.
most important strategies to sustain rural Division Water Engineer
development are approaches that rural
communities can manage and control.
The methodology of PRA, while one of
many village-based approaches to development,3 is for sustainable production within their community.
a unique approach. It helps rural communities to It also strengthens local leadership and institutions.
support activities which they design and implement Four assumptions form the basis for PRA:

ASSUMPTION 1: Rural people have great
knowledge -- when this knowledge is
organized it strengthens communities

PRA believes that rural resource users have consid-
erable knowledge about their problems and are familiar
with locally-based ways to solve them. PRA further
assumes that rural residents may not appreciate the
enormous power that this information can yield nor how
best to organize it to bring together interests both inside
and outside of their community. As a first step, PRA
helps communities to organize and systematize their
own information in ways that they will be able to

ASSUMPTION 2: Rural groups can ini-
tiate action -- when community insti-
tutions mobilize through PRA, there
is no need to wait for outsiders

Rural communities can introduce projects, acting
primarily on their own resources. PRA helps commu-
nities to mobilize themselves for effective action. PRA
assumes that community institutions are among the most
underutilized resources available for development ef-
forts. PRA builds consensus on what a community
wishes to do and designates which community groups or
individuals will take action. Local leaders are the prime
movers in taking such actions

ASSUMPTION 3: Rural resource users
can plan and implement actions -- such
initiatives become a powerful means to
attract outside help

While people can do a great deal to solve their own
problems and implement their own plans, they cannot
necessarily do the entire job alone. External units such
as government extension officers, NGOs, and interna-
tional groups often can provide critical technical, finan-
cial, or managerial assistance that is unavailable to rural
communities. PRA creates a setting in which village
and outside groups share goals and agree on actions to
meet common needs.

ASSUMPTION 4: Farmers will imple-
ment tasks which they can sustain --
but require continuous long term
relationships with external agents

Sustainability is built in to PRA as rural groups pick
projects that they can initiate and manage. Yet commu-
nity enthusiasm from a PRA assessment may not last
indefinitely. New agendas arise, old factions reemerge,
and new problems take priority. To maintain the energy
of PRA, gentle yet persistent reinforcement from exter-
nal NGOs or extension staff may be required. While
some communities that have been using PRA for three
years are still active and energetic in their implementa-
tion, this energy may not go on forever.

'In addition to the PRA Handbook there is:
Raintree, J.B. D & D User's Manual: An
Introduction to Diagnosis and Design.
ICRAF; The Community's Toolbox: The Idea,
Methods and Toolsfor Participatory Assess-
ment, Monitoring and Evaluation in Commu-
nity Forestry. Community Forestry Field
Manual 2. FAO: Rome, 1990.; and,
Mascarenhas, James et.al. "Participatory Rural
Appraisal: Proceedings of the February 1991
Bangalore PRA Trainers Workshop." RRA Notes
Number 13, August, 1991. Published by HED.

PRA is a new
approach which builds
on local knowledge,
experience, and com-

The Nature of PRA: What it Offers

PRA has nine strengths:

STRENGTH 1: Focuses on rural

PRA users assume that rural communities and local
institutions are the primary building blocks to enhance
community development, reverse resources degrada-
tion, increase food production, strengthen child sur-
vival, or expand income generation projects. PRA
therefore places major responsibilities on community
institutions and leaders to initiate their own development.

STRENGTH 2: Offers alternatives for
marginal areas

PRA is based on a belief that macro development
strategies such as structural adjustment or production of
high value crops serve a portion of Africa's development
constituency. Yet macro strategies may bypass rural
communities, especially those in ecologically marginal
areas, where population is growing rapidly, where an
increasing number of households are headed by women,
and where food production has been declining. PRA
focuses on these marginal zones.

STRENGTH 3 : Uses approaches that are
sensitive to issues of gender and needs
of children

By working with local institutions, PRA establishes
contact and communication with groups sometimes left
out of project design, planning, and implementation.
PRA uses techniques such as gender analysis to involve
special interest groups in data gathering and analysis as
well as in action. Broadly based community interests
therefore become part of the PRA action plan.

STRENGTH 4: Systematizes rural

PRA provides a structure which brings together
residents and leaders from the community, technical
officers assigned to the area, and as possible, NGOs.
PRA also works toward more equitable participation of
unempowered groups within communities. Bridging
these gaps between intended beneficiaries and those who
manage resources as well as among different interests
within local communities introduces practices that vil-
lage institutions can learn from, use, and maintain.

Viewed in the
broader development
context, PRA is one
of several analytical
tools available to bring
sustainability to rural

STRENGTH 5: Uses visual materials and
group discussions

PRA uses visual data gathering instruments and
relies on charts and graphs for data analysis and presen-
tation. Visual materials help rural residents who may
lack formal education to participate in discussions with
the PRA team in ways that previous approaches have
failed to achieve.

STRENGTH 6: Enables rural residents to

PRA maximizes participation by gathering data
which stay with the community. Discussions about the
meaning of these data are interactive. Setting priorities
and action plans results from carefully managed ranking
techniques to assure that the plans reflect priorities of
many elements within the community.

STRENGTH 7: Integrates sectors

PRA integrates development sectors such as agricul-
ture, water, forestry, health, and livestock, using the
theme of community development and natural resources

STRENGTH 8: Integrates organizations

PRA brings together institutions in unique ways and
vests authority within the community. It enables govern-

ment extension officers to join with NGOs in productive
rather than competitive efforts. It enables government
entities to cooperate, and helps formal and informal
leaders within the community to interact.

STRENGTH 9: Concludes with
Community Action Plan (CAP)

The final stage of the PRA is the CAP which sets
village-based projects in priority order, identifies mate-
rials and labor that will be required for implementation,
and assigns responsibilities to groups in and outside of
the community to carry out the work. The CAP becomes
the focal point for the data gathering and ranking and
enables communities to control their own development
by way of implementing the plan.

The CAP has become one of the most important parts
of the PRA process. It focuses community discussion
in its preparation; mobilizes community groups during
implementation; and helps communities to measure their
own progress toward achievement. It serves as a means
to attract external support by giving the community a
way to bargain with extension agents and NGOs to assure
that community-based goals will drive their develop-
ment. Implementation is actively underway in several
Kenyan communities and has demonstrated, in varying
degrees, that when participation is organized and sys-
tematized, efforts are not only productive from the
community's perspective, but sustainable largely from
their own resources.

PRA Assessment Criteria

PRA uses criteria taken directly from Rapid Rural
Appraisal to assess merits of village projects and action.
Three of these criteria have been especially useful to help
community institutions think through their needs and
what to do about them. They are used toward the end of
the village assessment, during the exercise with the
Options Assessment Chart (see
page 29. The criteria include:

equitability villagers con-
sider how a particular ac-
tion (eg. marketing veg-
etables to increase income)
will impact different com-
munity groups -- young and
old; rich and poor; male and
female; formally or infor-
mally educated; or different
ethnic groups. The PRA pro-
cess places high value on
actions that spread benefit
as far as possible within the

productivity villagers also
consider the impact that an

action will have on productive use of the resource
base. Will a rise in income or increase in crop yield
or improvements in children's health or water quan-
tity result from the activity? PRA looks to ways that
villages can be made more productive;

sustainability village organizations discuss
whether they will have interest in and ability to
maintain the proposed activity from their own re-
sources, without continuing need for outside help,
and without depleting village resources. PRA helps
communities to think ahead to what they will be able
to do to support themselves.

These three concepts are often in conflict with one
another. There are trade offs. For example, a water

project that has high productivity may have lower
equitability or may not be sustainable. Community
groups consider these trade offs when ranking project
activity, with the understanding that PRA helps to
increase access of community groups to the resource
base. Yet PRA adds the awareness that increased access
brings increased responsibility. PRA places decisions
about trade offs inside the community. PRA assumes that
the ultimate sustainability lies in communities assuming
such locally-based responsibilities.

1Getting Started:

How to Begin

We wanted a tree nursery. So we planted seedlings next to a
well that the government had installed. For two years, we had
plenty of water. Our nursery flourished. Then the pump broke.
The ministry had no money to replace the broken part, and the
members of our nursery women's group would not pay to fix the
ministry's pump. For two years, we had no nursery. The PRA
plan helped us start a new nursery near a small stream. Now we
can grow seedlings whether the ministry fixes the pump or not.

Chair, Sublocation Women's Group

Community Visits
The easiest way to guide rural leaders to a new demonstrations can be institutional, personal, or politi-
course of action is to show them what other villages have cal. Several examples follow to suggest a variety of ways
accomplished with PRA. These exchange visits and to start.

An Institutional Example:
A Technical Officer Advising a Village

Since 1984, women's groups in Mbusyani have helped each other in soil
conservation and other resource management needs on their individual shambas.
Initially, they organized six women's groups. By 1987, they had started a tree nursery.
The following year, the women's groups learned through a Forestry Extension Officer
about a nearby community -- Katheka -- that had used PRA effectively. Katheka
women's groups had worked with the National Environment Secretariat (NES), using
PRA to build soil control measures and raise funds for hand tools and a water pump.
Mbusyani women's leaders raised 45 shillings each (then about $2.00) for bus fare to
attend a large meeting in Katheka.

The visitors looked at check dams, bench terraces, and cutoff drains that women's
groups had constructed and observed woodland management practices. Perhaps more
important, peers talked to peers. The women's group leaders and farm cooperative
officers from both villages exchanged views. The visitors liked what they saw and
wanted to learn more.

Mbusyani contacted the PRA team through the National Environment Secretariat
and arranged for a visit. A few weeks later, two members of the PRA team met with
community leaders along with about 500 villagers. They discussed the nature of PRA,
what it could do for the community, and what the community would have to contribute.
All parties agreed that a PRA could help them and they agreed to get started. The act
of the forest officer linking village leaders and enabling Mbusyani to learn of the
effectiveness of Katheka's actions was the critical factor in getting Mbusyani started.
Since 1988, Mbusyani has been an active and productive user of PRA.

A Political Example:
A Member of Parliament Taking Initiative Within His Constituency

In another case, in Western Kenya, a member of Parliament approached the
Director of the National Environment Secretariat about what he might do to solve
water, soil, and forestry problems in his constituency. The two had known each other
for several years so the contact was partly official and partly old friends. The Director
described PRA as it had been functioning for the previous two years and assigned one
staff member to travel with the MP to a community where women's groups were
looking for projects. After several discussions, the women's leaders, the Assistant
Chief, the MP, and local technical officers carried out a PRA, in association with NES.
The resultant CAP focused not only on natural resource issues but on income
generation as well. Funding for priority projects, evolving over a two year period, is
now in place.

Five years ago a group came
to our village to solve our water
problem. They said if every family
would give them ten shillings (the
equivalent often loaves of bread),
they would bring us water. After
we gave them money, they disap-
peared. We still had no water.
With PRA, we make our own plans
and raise money which we control
ourselves. Using our own plans,
we now have water.

Leader, Vllage Women's Group

Personal Contacts:
Learning From Communities Next Door

In still another example, women's group leaders from Ngumuti became aware of
what PRA had been doing in water development in two adjacent sublocations. They
contacted both the division water engineer and women's group leaders for conversa-
tions. They became convinced that PRA was a productive methodology and would help
them. Ngumuti women began meeting with the water engineer and neighboring village
leaders in communities adjacent to PRA villages. The engineer designed an informal
"shortcut" PRA taking about three days (as opposed to 8-12 days for a full PRA) and
succeeded in gaining the confidence of large numbers of women's group leaders. They
worked out village plans for their communities. Subsequently the water engineer has
assisted them in drafting pro-
posals and they have attracted
an NGO because of the sound -'
data and well organized com-
munity which the short-cut
PRA had facilitated. While
the proposals are limited in
scope and while the village
activity has not yet begun, the
experience suggests that there
are many styles of village
participation and many ways
to organize it. The role of
neighbors or an individual
extension officer using PRA
techniques can produce im-
portant results.

Review a Sample Community Action Plan (CAP)

Another way to start is for community leaders to
examine a CAP from another community. They would
learn what the community wanted to do and determine
whether similar goals might be appropriate for their own
community. While we have no example at present of a

group or sublocation getting started this way, it is at least
a potentially effective way of sharing the PRA experi-
ence. A full PRA Community Action Plan for Kyevaluki
(then called a Village Resource Management Plan)
appears in the PRA Handbook.

The plan makes the difference. I
had tried several times to organize
village groups, but success was
limited. PRA has now helped us to
make water sources reliable, de-
crease soil erosion, open new lands
for growing food, and even to earn
some money. The secret is in work-
ing together. The PRA plan helps us
to cooperate.

Assistant Chief

~f ~ ~. ..'"' ,.i r ._ .* -
,. -" -... j "..
" t

Learning about PRA through Case Studies

A final means to get going is through case studies. This is useful if there are no
PRA villages nearby. There are several documents already available and more
coming quickly from the groups listed in the back of this booklet.

"Evaluating Participatory Rural Appraisal: Listening to Village Leaders in Kakuyuni
Location," by Richard Ford and Francis Lelo. Reprint from Forests, Trees and People
NEWSLETTER, No. 13, June, 1991. Paper Number 2, Papers in International Development
and Social Change. Worcester: Clark University, October, 1991.

Assessing Mbusyani: Using Participatory Rural Appraisal for Sustainable Resources
Management. Charity Kabutha, Barbara P. Thomas-Slayter, and Richard Ford. Paper
Number 1, Papers in International Development and Social Change. Worcester: Clark
University, October, 1991.

Introducing the ECOGEN Approach to Gender, Natural Resources Management, and
Sustainable Development. Barbara Thomas-Slayter, Dianne Rocheleau, Dale Shields, and
Mary Rojas. Worcester: Clark University, 1991.

From Cattle to Coffee: Transformation in Rural Machakos. Isabella Asamba, and Barbara
Thomas-Slayter. ECOGEN Case Study Series. Worcester: Clark University, 1991.

People, Property, Poverty and Parks: A Story ofMen, Women, Water and Trees at Pwani.
Dianne Rocheleau, Karen L. Schofield and J. Njoki Mbuthi. ECOGEN Case Study Series.
Worcester: Clark University, 1991.

An Introduction to PRA for Natural Resources Management. Richard Ford, Barbara
Thomas-Slayter, and Wanjiku Mwagiru. November, 1989.


Assessing local communities with PRA is not an
autonomous process. Each community is connected to
an elaborate outside network of administrative, political,
economic, and other institutions. These inside and
outside elements must be notified and involved, as
appropriate. In varying degrees, endorsement from this
network of officials and institutions will make it easier

for the community to implement the eventual PRA plan.
The following scenario describes one example of setting
up a PRA in Pwani village, Njoro Division, Nakuru
District during the month of June, 1990. It is presented
here because the process of good clearance and advanced
preparation for the PRA will make implementing the
plan considerably easier.

Getting Official Clearances and

Briefing Community Leaders

Using PRA, our Village Development Committee (VDC) designed a
water project and obtained funding from a UN agency. We forgot to in-
form the Senior Chief that we were discussing funding plans with a UN
group. When he heard about it, he became curious. He summoned our
VDC to meet with him. While the meeting could have been difficult, it was
not. The Chief had previously been involved with PRA and therefore
understood what we were doing. Our meeting concluded with the Chief's
blessing. The incident reminded us of the need to keep everyone informed
at all times. PRA helps us to do that.

Village Elder

PRA Secenario:
Pwani Village, Njoro Division, Nakuru District, Kenya

For Pwani, the PRA set-up team included two water officers assigned to the area
and two Egerton University lecturers. In other situations, the advance group may be
only two people, one of whom should be a technical officer already assigned to the area.
The first step for clearance was a letter to the District Commissioner (DC) for Nakuru,
explaining the intent of the PRA and the expected outcomes. Following approval, the
next step was to meet with the Division Officer (DO) for Njoro. This began with a
personal visit, followed by a letter similar to the one already sent to the DC. Further,
the DC had briefed the DO so there was a positive administrative environment for the
village work.

From the DO, the set-up team went to the Chief of Lare Location and the Assistant
Chief for Naishi Sublocation within which Pwani lies. The Chief learned the details
of PRA, what it would do for the community of Pwani, what would be expected of him
during the course of the eight days of data collection in the village, what the assessment
might do in terms of longer range follow-up for the community, and the degree to which
the PRA process would build upon and reinforce programs already underway in Pwani.

The Team established a fundamental point with the Chief, to be reiterated at several
stages over the set up. A brief digression will help those who will be organizing PRAs
in new regions and communities throughout Asia, Africa, and Latin America.

PRA does not bring money. Unfortunately, in many developing countries, the
arrival of "visitors" has created assumptions among local village leaders that
outsiders visit villages or study the community because they are bringing money.
Villagers have acquired skills to anticipate the nuances of such visits and respond
with carefully reasoned priorities -- water projects for the water engineer: tree
nurseries for the forestry NGOs; and school roofs for the education authorities. Yet
these projects are rarely sustainable because they are fitting into the "agency"

4L... -s-.

PRA Scenario (cont)

agenda rather than finding common ground between local priorities and agency
mandates. So strong is the "development tourism" lesson that explicit and repeated
mention is required to stress that PRA brings an approach to mobilize communities,
not a package of money.

The Naishi Assistant Chief agreed that it was best to bring skills rather than money
and commended the set-up team on the approach. He further added that he would
support such an approach and, if it worked well for Pwani, encourage it for other
villages in his Sublocation.

The set-up team then traveled to Pwani, with the blessings of the Chief. Here
meetings were organized with village elders and senior administrative staff in the
village including the KANU representative, the elected Councillor for the village,
church leaders, women's group leaders, and others. It is important to stress again that
PRA works with both formal and informal village leaders. The nature of PRA was
presented, using the short booklet, "Introduction to PRA for Rural Resources
Management." The brief and visual nature of the booklet helped the local leaders to
understand the PRA process, from beginning to end.

The set-up team carefully discussed what would be expected of the community
leadership to make the PRA work. The following items were reviewed. They are
mentioned briefly here to give an idea of what the community leadership needs to know
and how they should prepare themselves for the appraisal. The agenda included:

An opening meeting

Upwards of 200 or 300 leaders and opinion makers from the community were
invited. The meeting is a launching ceremony for PRA and is important as a means
to tell villagers what is going on. The Assistant Chief was informed well in advance
to set up the meeting and to consult with village leaders as to the best time and place;

PRA carries out as-
sessments and creates
Community Action Plans
(CAP). These plans derived
and managed by those who
benefit, offer a sound and
practical way to help rural
communities to help them-

PRA Scenario (cont)
Group discussion clusters for data gathering

PRA collects data from several small groups on topics such as the seasonal cal-
endar, time lines, trend lines, farm sketches, etc. Each has particular needs
concerning numbers, composition, place, and theme. Further, each needs to be
scheduled well in advance to assure that the varied distribution of participants will
be present.

Farm interviews

The Assistant Chief needs to establish a schedule for these interviews, making sure
that different ecological sub-zones, social classes, land use systems, and farm sizes
in the community are represented. For a community of 300 to 500 households,
probably only 6 to 8 farm interviews are needed.

Wrap-up and ranking meetings

Toward the end of the PRA, there will be need for two or even three large vil-
lage discussions that will incorporate the data coming from PRA and present
opportunities for the village to rank both problems and opportunities. A tentative
schedule should be set for these as well as an understanding with the Assistant Chief
about how many and who might be expected to attend.

Special Meetings

The team alerted Pwani leaders that there would be many informal discussions and
interviews throughout the PRA. For example, in Pwani, some of the women
members of the PRA team met with small groups of women leaders to talk about

Data inform village
residents about the circum-
stances of their own com-
munity as well as help
disparate elements within
the community know
about the perspectives of
one another.

PRA Sceneario (cont)

issues unique to women. On another occasion a group met with three elders who
had lived in the community since World War I to learn how land had been used
during the colonial era.

On still another occasion, a special group met to consider individual water needs,
what projects had been tried in the past, and how future water needs might best
be met. These special topic discussions are outside of the formal structure of PRA
but are perhaps one of the most important elements that PRA can generate.

Once the formal and informal community leadership clearly understand what their roles
will be and what to expect, it is time to start gathering data.

Data Gathering

Our village
planting new c
by individual

PRA is capable of collect- firewood, water
ing large amounts of data. The have often trie
PRA Handbook describes some cut-off drain I
community-based data collec- choose our nt
tion methods; a recent publica-
more come evre
tion describing the use of PRA
in India presents additional data
collection methodologies.4 Be-
fore embarking on detailed data
gathering, it is helpful to dis-
cuss why the data are to be gathered and what will be
done with the resulting information. There are two
different styles of PRA with two different data ap-

Sectoral PRAs

For those carrying out sectoral PRAs, it will be
important to identify, ahead of time, what that agenda is

has many needs. Some of them -- how to use new fertilizers,
:rops, or digging moisture pits for bananas -- can be solved
farmers But our bigger problems -- soil erosion, scarce
'r drying up -- require cooperation among many families. We
d to bring 30 or 40 volunteers to build a new well or dig a
o slow water runoff. It didn't work. After we used PRA to
ist severe problem (soil loss), we have had 100 people or
Iry Wednesday to dig bench terraces.

Leader, Women's Group

(eg, health, food security, etc.) and to gather information
accordingly. For example, in the case of a PRA
concerned with food security, there may be very particu-
lar information which the team wants to learn through
PRA. Themes of farm size, gender roles, mix of cash and
food crops, credit availability, seasonal food supplies, or
food storage are directly relevant to the task and should
be included in one or another of the PRA data gathering
exercises. It may be that meetings between village

4Kabutha, Charity, Barbara Thomas-Slayter
and Richard Ford. Participatory Rural Ap-
praisal Handbook. WRI, NES, Egerton,
and Clark, 1990; and Mascarenhas, James
et.al. "Participatory Rural Appraisal: Pro-
ceedings of the February 1991 Bangalore
PRA Trainers Workshop." RRA Notes
Number 13, August, 1991. Published by


Setting Data

leadership and the PRA team will help to review these
issues and what types of information can best be gathered
with particular techniques.

Open Ended PRAs

In the case of more open ended PRAs, there may be
interest in delimiting data needs at the very early stages
of the PRA. For example, in some PRAs carried out in
Njoro Division, the PRA team first undertook a regional

reconnaissance to gain a preliminary sense of problems
that prevailed in different parts of the division and what
data might be most helpful in responding to these
problems. Further, the preliminary review for either the
sectoral PRA or the open ended versions will help to
guide the team as it looks at secondary literature and
previously gathered information about the area.

Once data needs are clearly defined, it is time to
begin data collection.5

PRA differs from
most data gathering
exercises in that it
gathers information
primarily for community
residents to use to
prepare a Community
Action Plan for their
own community.

-~ ,mm-
*4*.1 w7.


5See PRA Handbook
for greater detail.

Data Collection:

Spatial Data

A village SKETCH MAP is compiled in
cooperation with village leaders to identify
physical and economic details and to locate
the community's infrastructure.

The PRA Team prepares a village
TRANSECT, in cooperation with
residents, to identify types of land
use, problems, and opportunities to
solve problems. The transect also
helps the team to determine whether
there are sub-zones within the com-
munity that require special consider-

FARM SKETCHES are organized for a
representative sample of households in the
community. Six to eight farms are identi-
fied, with attention to include examples of
the variety of ecological, income, land use,
and ethnic variation present in the commu-
nity. PRA Team members prepare
sketches by walking around the farm with
household heads.

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Data Collection:

Time Related Data

The PRA Team meets with residents to
discuss what they consider to be the most
important events in the community's past
and prepare a TIME LINE. Data are gathered
in group meetings which include community
residents from different backgrounds and
perspectives, including young and old and
men and women. Problems and opportunities
are discussed.


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TREND LINES are developed, based on
village perspectives, of a thirty or forty year
pattern of changes in resource issues such as
rainfall, crop production, soil loss, deforesta-
tion, health, population, and other topics of
concern to the community. The PRA Team
organizes groups of residents and leaders for
this exercise.

The PRA Team organizes a SEASONAL
CALENDAR, using group meetings similar to
those for the time line and trend analyses. Data
on topics such as land use, hunger, disease, food
surplus, and cash availability are organized and
entered into a time scale of 12 to 18 months. The
seasonal calendar also helps to record village
views of problems and opportunities.

dan Frb fl11r Aol 0aJ Oun3 ulu Ao Sept Oct 0ov tIe

/Vej-.s__1 na f.Pap aMan o, Pnpln^ s

Crop Activity

Plant Difsases

Data Collection:


c. _met The PRA Team also gathers data

Groups of residents are asked to rank
.s..FARM INTER S J community institutions in order of
te.and afthos is ,rend basr hsushsol d dara Th, mnimsi infrrm"tion i so h e hiotneS
i..r.., FiN.......,. ., IM rnr, d. .i.t rrioniG.idrnM. importance and to construct diagrams
"-"'"" Z- "eS- Churc that indicate the relationships between
..__ F_ ._ -..H... -- P, iult. and among different community
SEd u. groups.
Pla ofrigidof P.- -m g.s'spssa
Ho aIny dual FARM INTERVIEWS areyo
Haw .sy oiMlws -a lis ig

carried out at those households where
sketches are compiled. Details of the
sample will vary, depending on the
goals of the exercise, but normally will
be the same as the farm sketches. Gen-
erally interviews last about one to one
and one half hours and serve to confirm
that the information coming from group
meetings is a valid representation of the
community's condition.

Data Collection:

Technical Data

Economic and Technical Feasibility

National Environment SecretariatlEgeron University
Clark University

(June 1989)


Potential for Development

In addition to the time, spatial, and social data,
technical officers on the PRA Team assemble
BILITY, i.e. water or soils, needed to help villagers
rank preferences for project activity.

Kathome Dam Dry

Kwa Kathuli
Primary School

Kwa Makalya

Muu River




bilharzia low;
population high

Kwa Nzambu Semi-permanent;
Dam/Pan good water
Kithunthi Well Permanent;
good water;
Church aided in

Seek alternative site as dam;
doesn't hold water after rains.
There may be a broken rock

Roof catchment may serve the
school and neighbors and also
serve as an example.
Presently broken. Rehabilitation
by digging, remove the
eucalyptus trees from site.
Deepen the well.
Protect by fencing.
Build a dam and river intake.
River will feed downstream users
by gravity. Protect by fencing.

Needs protection. Conserve
catchment area.
Protect by fencing. Install pump
that is already purchased. Repair

Credit: PRA Handbook, p.53



Problem Analysis and Setting

Priorities for Solutions

We know
Problem solving requires in- to tell us to
tense discussion. Rural residents ready knew
are well aware of the causes of shots. What
their problems and what solutions are busy ant
may and may not work. PRA asks has helped A
residents about their problems and of the clinic
possible solutions throughout the
data collection. Perhaps the most
important part of the PRA transac-
tion is the community discussion
of these tentative solutions. Resi-
dents will know what solutions have been tried in the past
and whether or not they worked. They will have a good
sense of what things they are able and prepared to do to
implement the solutions. But they will not necessarily
have a good background in some of the technical and
managerial elements to implement these solutions. That
is why it is important for the PRA team to include NGO
or extension staff with experience in some of the
technical elements in, for example, health. In this way,

all about health workers coming to our shambas (farms)
have our children getjabs for different diseases. We al-
that our children would be better if they received these
the health people never understood was that we mothers
Shave little time to take our children to the clinic. PRA
rs explain to the health people that the location and hours
make a big difference to our children's health.

Mother in PRA community

the local information and community energy from the
village can be integrated with the technical and manage-
rial know how of the outside agents. The degree to which
some of the solutions will meet root causes of the
problems, as opposed to symptoms, will depend on the
depth and detail of the analysis that takes place at this
stage. Further, the effectiveness of implementation will
depend on the validity of the problem analysis and
proposed solutions.


There are many techniques for ranking. This booklet
is not designed to offer all the possibilities. The most
effective tool that PRA has utilized for ranking problems
is pair-wise ranking.

More information on ranking can be found in the
PRA Handbook, RRA Notes published by IIED in
London, and IIED publications by G. Conway, J.
McCracken, R. Chambers, and J. Pretty.

PCUEt PA-s .... 5 ............. .. .
p e eTp . . . . . . . . . . . - . . . . . . . 5
W 6PS& I . . ( to
COST OF INPUrS ............... I .
LACK OF LAND ........ 4 3
LACK OP-IRRIGATION -..... ..3 .....

PRA rests on the
assumption that the
single greatest data
store for dealing with
local problems rests
with the community

To prepare a pair-wise ranking of opportunities (or problems) use the sample ranking table as a model.
Prepare separate exercises for the set of options for the most important 3 to 5 problems. The options for
each problem are listed on the top and left side of the matrix. Each open square represents a paired com-
parison of the points listed at the top and extreme left. For each comparison, ask the group which option
is more likely and why. Record the most likely option in the square and develop a list of reasons for the
selections. When the chart is completed, add up the number of times each item was identified as more im-
portant than the rest, and arrange them in appropriate order. Repeat the exercise for the other major pro-
blems and options.

Credit: PRA Handbook, p.64

Setting the Plan

The next step focuses on what a community can do
about its most severe problems. PRA incorporates a
number of exercises that rank possible solutions. The
process of open discussions and ranking of these re-
sponses elicits both consensus as well as longer term
community ownership of the solutions.

To some,
structured blue
plans are quite
needed to meet
to do the work

the thought of a "plan" implies a tightly
-print that must be followed. The PRA
different. They suggest goals, materials
these goals, and groups in the community
-- all initiated by the community, for the




Credit: PRA Handbook, p. 65

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me p2X oR A Ja R5 3

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Estimated Committee
Source: By Priority Reqrements Resonibilit Estimated Time

Kathome Primary
School Roof Catchment

Kithunthi Primary
School Roof Catchment

Kwa Nzambu Dam

1. Ballast (21 tons)
2. Sand (28 tons)
3. Building Stone
(1750 running ft)
4. Cement (150 bgs)
5. Waterproof Cement (50
6. Gutter (200m)
7. Facia Board (200 ft)
8. Round Bars (1200m)
9. Timber (6x1@ 1000 ft;
3x2 @ 600 ft)
10. Unskilled Labour
11. Skilled Labour (30 days)

1. Ballast (21 tons)
2. Sand (28 tons)
3. Building Stone
(1750 running ft)
4. Cement (150 bgs)
5. Waterproof Cement (50
6. Gutter (200m)
7. Facia Board (200 ft)
8. Round Bars (1200m)
9. Timber (6x1 @ 1000 ft;
3x2 @ 600 ft)
10. Unskilled Labour
11. Skilled Labour (30 days)

1. Posts and Wire
2. Terracing
3. Afforestation

1. Community
2. Community
3. External

4. External
5. External

6. External
7. Community
8. External
9. External

10. Community
11. MOWD

1. Community
2. Community
3. External

4. External
5. External

6. External
7. Community
8. External
9. External

10. Community
11. MOWD

1. External
2. Community
3. Community

Group will work on a
weekly basis, using
parent volunteers; will
start week of 20 June

Group will work on a
weekly basis, using
parent volunteers; will
start immediately.

Deferred until site in
public trust.

Plans are the people's
views and interpretations

of what is needed, linked
to the technical informa-

tion that NGO or exten-
sion people have added.

Credit: PRA Handbook, p.73

Communities have implemented CAPs with an amaz-
ing degree of vigor. We have yet to find a community
that has not implemented upwards of half of the plan and
several have not only completed the initial plan but have
continued in both formal and informal ways to extend far
beyond the original targets.

Even so, plans, by themselves, are not development.
The CAP is simply a guideline or disciplining device to
enable community institutions to focus energies, coordi-
nate work, raise money, and gain attention from poten-
tial external sources for assistance. A number of ex-
amples already completed appear on the next page.

In several cases, communities have altered their PRA plans because
they learned some things part way into the.process. For example:

In one village a reservoir was to be rebuilt. The plan called for a well to be
constructed on the down side of the dam. That turned out to be much more expensive
than digging a well near the spillway of the dam and diverting the overflow water into
the well surround.

In another case, a new gravity-fed irrigation system was producing abundant
harvests but farmers could not sell their crops. The plan was changed to include an
element for marketing produce.

In still another case, a posho mill was going to be installed in a large market where
most of the women took their maize for grinding. Closer reviews found that a smaller
neighborhood market would support the mill if all of the women near the small market
would use the new location. A change was made and the new location is working well
after 18 months of operation.

The PRA plans are a
series of working agree-
ments that the village
makes with itself. They
are not rigid and non-
negotiable contracts.
Ideally, community
groups will learn a great
deal in the process of
implementing a plan.

CAPs in Action

... a village has raised money to start a paraffin
(kerosene) depot. using the example of cooperation
on a water project to show that they are a responsible
and efficient group;

... a cluster of three villages has now increased
income for most farmers through a new vegetable
marketing plan that PRA helped to organize;

... eight sublocations have organized community
resource management plans and received training in
village resources management techniques as well as
organizational management:

... an NGO is working with more than a dozen
villages, using PRA to implement spring (water
source) protection, roof catchment tanks, hand dug
wells, and health education. The focus is on both the

products which the village groups produce as well as
the process through which community institutions
are strengthened:

... an international agency is using PRA to improve
health through identifying target groups for training:
Community Leadership Training; Community Health
Workers: Traditional Birth Attendants; Training of
Trainers -- as well as to organize village water
management committees and groups for village
fisheries development;

... a village has stabilized two small water catchments
through mobilizing its own labor and then attracting
outside money to desilt the reservoir itself. The
united action of the community groups including,
organizing data, setting a plan. and starting the work
attracted the outside funds.


Once the PRA plan is adopted, attention shifts to
implementation. Village committees and collaborative
relationships among local institutions are by far the most
effective way to get action started.
A small group or committee in the community will
have to take the first step, possibly working with an NGO

or local extension officer. The committee may have to
work alone, at least for the early stages. No single leader
can implement PRA by her or himself. Successful
villages are those that have enlisted a broad base of
support from within the community and have used this
strong internal support to reach out for external assis-
tance. There are several options.

Building Community Support

and Capacities

Our village reservoir had become badly silted. We tried to have extension
officers, NGOs, or the DDC help. But they would not listen. They told us there
were hundreds of similar problems throughout the district. With PRA, we adopted
a plan to rehabilitate the reservoir ourselves. Once we started our work, several
NGOs became interested. A UN agency came for a visit and we wrote a proposal
for them, with the help of the PRA Team. Within six months we had received a
grant from the UN to hire a tractor to scoop the silt. The UN helped because the
CAP showed we were serious about solving our water problem.
Village Elder, the "Minister of Water"for his community

Implementing CAPs

Mobilizing Internal Support

Activating an Existing Committee

If there is already an active committee responsible
for some type of development, self help, or community
improvement, adapt its structure to implement the CAP.
An example of the membership of a sublocation devel-
opment committee from Kyevaluki (Machakos) indicates
how one existing committee has been used. When it
comes time for the actual work in Kyevaluki, different

subgroups of the Sublocation Development Committee
(SLDC) take charge. For example, several schools built
water catchment tanks. The school headmasters helped
organize parent groups. In another case in Kyevaluki, a
tree nursery was the goal and some of the women on the
SLDC joined together to form a sub-group that worked
with the forest extension officer.

Membership in Kyevaluki Sublocation Development Committee (SLDC)

Assistant Chief. Chair SLDC.
Secretary. SLDC, Headmaster, Kamwanyani Primary School
Vice Secretary, SLDC
Headmaster, Kyevaluki Primary School
Chairman, Kyevaluki Primary School
Treasurer, Kyevaluki Prmary School
Chairman, Kamwanyani Primary School
Chairman, Kiomo Primary School
Chairman, Kilindiloni Primary School
Head, Kilindiloni Primary School
Headmaster, Kiomo Primary School
Chairman, Kathome Primary School
Head, Kwakathuli Primary School

Chairman, Kwakathuli Primary School
Head. Kithunthi Pnmary School
Chairman, Kithunthi Primary School
Ex-Assistant Chief
Church Leader
Church Leader
Kyevaluki Secondary School
Headmaster, Kyevaluki Secondary School
Family Planning Officer I
Family Planning Officer II
KANU Secretary
KANU Chairman, Kyevaluki
Manager, Kyevaluki Village Polytechnic

Agriculture Officer
Veterinary Officer
Kakutha Village Elder
Kiu Village Elder
Kamwanyani Village Elder
Nihwake Village Elder
Kathome Village Elder
Kyevaluki Village Elder
Ngolyau Village Elder
Kithunthi Village Elder
KANU Maendeleo ya Wanawake Chairlady,
(Kyevaluki Mwethya Self-Help Groups)

Forming a New Committee

If the village lacks well organized groups, it may be
necessary to start a new SLDC. Assemble village
opinion makers and talk about how to do it. Use the CAP
as the occasion for getting organized. Determine who
should be represented and how to hold elections. There
are many examples of how these elections can be held.
The CDA will then be able to help register the group.

For example, in one community, there were several
active organizations in different parts of the sublocation.
But they had never worked together on community-wide
projects. As a result, there were a few small efforts
underway but nothing that would benefit large numbers
in the community.The PRA experience helped the group
to form a new sublocation committee, in this case, for

The committee consisted of five people from the
village -- the Assistant Chief, two women's group
leaders, the Chair of the local Farm Cooperative, and one
village elder. Technical officers in health and water
made a total of seven members. The committee used a
bank account that was opened originally for a tree
nursery project. The tree project had concluded, but the
bank account continued and the three signatories for the
account were members of the women's groups now
working on water. Adapting a bit of the old and linking
it to the new has worked well.

Committee Membership

Whether the PRA implementation group is an old or
new committee it is important that many different
community points of view are represented. Women are
among the most active resource managers and producers
in most villages. Poor families have a great deal at stake
in sustaining village health, water, soils, and trees.
Church groups and cooperatives and schools and women's
groups are vital in a village. They all need to be

If all of these interests are included in the committee,
there will be thirty or forty members -- too many for
effective action. So the large committee needs to create
sub-committees for action. Some organize by sectors -
- water, health, agriculture. Others organize sub-
committees by sub-zones such as village units, school
zone areas, or groups served by a water point. The point
of having a committee is to represent community inter-
ests while at the same time having small working groups
that will actually go out and organize projects.

Reporting back to the main committee and to the
village community as a whole is important. In one case,
the subcommittee for health (consisting of 16 members)
meets once a week -- often on Mondays -- and reports
back to the entire village every Thursday. This way,
community residents who want to know what is going on
can come to the Thursday general meeting and find out.

Implementation Needs

Once the groups in the community have agreed to
start implementation and the committees are in place,
there is need to set a specific schedule and to assign actual
duties. While work and tasks will vary, depending on the
project at hand, generally there are four sets of needs for
village implementation. These include:

NEED 1: Sound Technical Advice

Before implementing water, soil, forestry, market-
ing, livestock, or agricultural projects, it is mandatory to
get good technical help. There are many groups and
organizations available to provide such help. In addition
to these, there are horticulture marketing units, handcraft
marketing guides, small project management assistance,
church agencies, cooperative societies and much more.
Use these technical aides to make sure that the basic
design in, for example, a water project, will serve the
community's needs and be technically sustainable.

A short digression will help. PRA relies on knowl-
edge and skills of rural residents to get things started. But
PRA is also deeply committed to stretch options for rural
resource managers. A forester, either government or
NGO, may be able to offer several suggestions about
how to start a nursery. So the technical advice is an
important step both to assume technical soundness as
well as to increase options

NEED 2: Materials

Almost every village project will require some type
of material ranging from locally available items (gravel
or fence posts) to local purchase (cement or hand tools)
to more complex technologies (pumps, oil presses, or
grain milling machines). In each case, project commit-
tees need to work with technical officers to decide what
materials will be needed and how to get them. Men and
women leaders in the village must be involved to make
sure there is good support in the community for the

Experience in several communities indicates that
PRA actually increases the quantity and availability of
materials. In one instance, the division agriculture
officer was able to get tools from the Ministry because
of a PRA village plan. In another situation, a water
engineer made a pump available that was left over from
an earlier project. In a third community, building stone
that was collected for an unsuccessful project was turned
over to a water tank enterprise. In all three of these
examples, the materials or tools were sitting idle and
probably would have continued to languish. They are
provided at no cost to the community. The PRA plan
gave focus and purpose to using them in the community
project. To this extent, PRA has been effective in
utilizing unused or underutilized resources.

NEED 3: Labor

Most communities have abundant supplies of labor
during certain times of the year or month. Good
management and group leadership can find out when
village labor is available and who is prepared to work.
Looking back at the PRA Seasonal Calendar will also
help to set schedules for work groups.

The most important thing a village leader can do to
start implementing a CAP is to hold several meetings to
decide who will work and how the necessary technical
advice and labor will be obtained. There will be different
views on how to do these things. If large meetings
become unproductive, meet with smaller groups within
the community and talk about how to get started. It may
be helpful to bring back one or two members of the
original PRA team. If there is a PRA community nearby,
ask for one or two of the leaders to come and talk about
how they mobilized work groups in their community.

The purpose of starting with the internal community
groups first is to find out how much support will be
available from community groups. It will also reveal
what kind of outside help will be needed.

One suggestion to strengthen community groups lies
in training. Use the PRA activities to focus on the very
specific skills that will be required. Determine if there
are community residents already able to do these tasks
and get their help. You can also use these residents to
train others "on the job." PRA has expanded villagers
skills in terracing, tree management, masonry, and project

If skilled people are not available in the village, work
with extension or NGO officers to find them. Negotiate
for a short course to provide training in, for example
record keeping, community mobilization, soil manage-
ment, posho mill operation, etc. The training should
increase community self-sufficiencies.

NEED 4: Administrative Backing

On one hand, PRA relies on the energy and commit-
ment of local institutions. On the other, it is essential that
administrative officials are informed about and support
the enterprise. Earlier chapters have stressed need for
administrative clearances and approvals. Such backing is
fundamental for successful implementation of a Commu-
nity Action Plan.


If the first few chapters imply that PRA has had no
problems, the impression is false. PRA is no miracle
cure. It is an analytical tool that is as strong as the person
or organization using it. A review of some of PRA's
problems and how leaders have dealt with them may be

helpful. While there will undoubtedly be new and
unexpected difficulties in the time ahead, the examples
of problems actually experienced will suggest at least the
types of frustrations that village leaders have encoun-
tered thus far.

Dealing With

Internal Problems

Do we have problems? The Assistant Chief rolled his eyes. Then he
smiled. Yes, he mused, we have had many problems implementing our
PRA Plans. But our committee does not give up. When people do not
come to meetings we send messengers to get them. When we have
difficulty raising money, we try harder. And when we cannot get the
technical officers to come, we send a small delegation from the com-
mittee and bring the officer, frequently paying his matatu (bush taxi)
fare. Yes, we have had many problems. But we work together until we
solve them.
Assistant Chief

One frustration has been a time lag between comple-
tion of the PRA design and ability to start actual work.
If the CAP depends on outside help, it may take several
months to get funds and start project activity. For
example, in one instance an external agency agreed to
match funds for reservoir rehabilitation. Yet it took over
18 months to get the paperwork sorted out for that
agency. In another instance, a technical officer agreed
to provide skilled labor and then found that his budget for
technicians had been canceled for that year and that a
delay of 12 months would be required. In still another
example, two technicians worked for three months
without being paid because of delays in funding ap-
proval. They continued working anyway and eventually
were paid. But there was a possibility that they would
work and not be paid.

Another problem relates to scope of activity. Some
groups have tried to start with large and complex projects
involving several sectors. In these cases, there have been
many discussions and meetings before project activity
could begin. As a result, some energy and momentum
was lost while the meetings continued. As an alternative,
some PRA groups have decided to start with easy
projects, at least for the first time or two, and then to
move to increasingly more complex issues. Having

success with an easy project builds support and enthusi-
asm to tackle more complex efforts at a later date.

Still another problem is the funding itself. Those
projects that seem to work best are those which rely least
on external funds. While PRA recognizes that most of
the labor and materials come from within the commu-
nity, some outside help is probably necessary. To
reconcile the balance between inside and outside support
is a critical issue.

While there are no simple answers to these or related
problems in village-based development, PRA is building
a base of experiences that suggest that: (1) local solutions
are frequently possible though not always obvious; (2)
the solutions become available as a result of the very
dialogue and communication that PRA promotes among
different elements inside and outside of the community;
and, (3) there are often many agencies already on-line
with different types of assistance to offer though commu-
nities do not always know about these agencies. With
these points in mind, three case examples are offered
describing how PRA helped communities to solve some
problems. In future editions of handbooks such as this,
it might be helpful to expand this section with many more
examples. Please send us your experiences.

EXAMPLE PROBLEM 1: Sand Scoopers

The Problem:
In one community, there had been difficulty with sand scoopers for several years.
Lorries would come in the night and drive to the riverbeds to collect sand. In many
cases, they went directly to the areas where volunteer women's groups had built check
dams and gabions for soil and water conservation.

The lorry drivers would make arrangements with some of the unemployed youth
in the community to meet at the rivers, at 2:00 am. The youths -- mostly Fourth Form
Leavers -- would shovel sand into the vehicle in exchange for about fifty shillings each
(between $2.00 and $2.50). The money was more than they could earn anywhere else
in the village; for the lorry drivers, it was small pay for the seven tons of sand that they
would sell in Nairobi the following day for two thousand or more shillings (between
$80.00 and $100.00).

When women's groups would get together to build more dams or repair the roads,
frequently the young men who did sand scooping by night would walk by and make
derogatory comments about the women. These were village youths. A generation
earlier, village social controls would have made such disrespect from the young people
punishable with severe sanctions. But by the 1990s, young people were saying and
doing many things not tolerated twenty years ago.

The Solution:

The Assistant Chief and other interested parties helped some of the teenagers
organize a rock and roll band -- The All Star Rock Band. Funds were saved and, in
cooperation with money the boys had earned (maybe from sandscooping), they bought
two or three guitars and started the band. As the All Stars became better known, they

Sand Scoopers (cont)

obtained work at weddings and parties in nearby villages, and earned some money. The
members of the band also started working on soil erosion control -- as volunteers -- as
a means of becoming part of the larger village effort to increase water and agricultural

The lesson learned is that the perceived problem -- undisciplined teenagers --
in implementing the PRA became part of the solution because village leaders were
able to harness and focus the energy of the young people. While some youths still
worked for the sandscoopers, at least ten decided they would be happier as All Stars
and helping with soil control.

Tips to Make PRA Work Better: Lessons from the Field

... during project identification, the PRA
team should try to use visual aids whenever
possible. The exercises for data collection shown
on pages 23 30 of this handbook offer some
examples. It is also helpful to have pictures of
different kinds of water projects or cropping
practices or bench terraces to focus group discus-
sion with specific example;

... the PRA team needs to place special
attention on listening to women. Sustainability is
a factor of how strongly individual people feel
ownership for a project idea. If women's groups
participate actively in the design and planning,
they are more likely to help to sustain the ideas and

... remember that communities want to
know how they are doing in implementing PRA
plans. Think about using the PRA to gather
baseline data on the status of water, soil, food
production, nutrition. and employment. They
can check a year later on how they are doing to
implement their Community Action Plan. The
possibility of villages monitoring their own
progress is an important dimension of PRA;

... keep in mind when NGOs participate in
PRA planning there may be a bias toward the
specialization of that NGO -- eg. water or
health. Be aware that village groups know about
these specializations and may steer discussions
toward what they think the NGO wants to hear;

... when implementation is about to begin,
think through what kinds of training different
members of the community will need -- technical
skills, management skills, financial skills -- and
have the community identify people who would
be good candidates for training;

... some groups have found that using PRA
at a sublocation level is fine for the analysis. But
they have learned that when it comes to imple-
mentation, the plans should be constructed at a
village level or sometimes even at smaller levels
such as hamlets or local clusters of households.
PRA offers such flexibility for implementation in
that the CAPs can be prepared at whatever level
communities think will work.

EXAMPLE PROBLEM 2: A Controversial Chief

The Problem:

In carrying out a PRA in one community, the team became aware that most people
in the villages did not trust the Assistant Chief. There had been some money problems
earlier and a strong factional schism developed within the community, with the
Assistant Chief at the core of the problem. The PRA team learned during the data
collection (the two exercises that brought the information forward were the trend lines
and the institutional analysis) that there was bad feeling within the village and that many
earlier projects had failed because of deeply held animosity.

The Solution:

One option was to abandon the PRA and write it off to bad luck for that village.
Instead, the PRA team talked through different management models with the informal
and formal leaders of the sublocation. The group decided that the best way to set up
a plan -- in this case for water development, soil renewal, a tree nursery, and
agricultural demonstration plots -- was to organize a strong committee with the
Assistant Chief as advisor. Actual action was initiated by the division water engineer
for water collection and by the leaders of the women's groups in the case of the soil
conservation and tree nurseries. The Assisstant Chief was part of the action, but he
was not in charge of any money or any work assignments. PRA was able to decentralize
the plan. Using this plan, the potential conflict between the Assistant Chief and the
community has been totally avoided and the projects have moved forward essentially
on schedule.

The lesson learned is that previous failure does not guarantee future failures.
Analysis carried out through PRA can achieve understanding of previous failure
and put new management models in place.

EXAMPLE PROBLEM 3: Water and Posho Mills Don't Mix

The Problem:

A sublocation completed its PRA plan with several different water options as their
highest priority. Within a few weeks, they had gathered materials and organized labor
to dig a well at the bottom of a long ravine where spring water often appeared in the
wet season. The Ministry of Water Development agreed to provide cement rings to
line the well and cement to build a facing to protect the water source.

Seven different women's groups cooperated to organize the project. Several men
came when it was time to do the actual digging. The entire project was completed in
about three months. The project was so well designed and implemented that no pump
was needed as water ran out of a half inch pipe installed near the top of the cement rings.

Success with the well brought interest in new action -- beyond the PRA plan. One
women's group proposed a petrol-powered posho mill (maize mill) to grind grain and
earn money for the women's groups. While five of the seven groups agreed, two did
not. The location was a long walk for members of the two dissenting groups. They
wanted the mill closer to their homes.

The Solution:

The women's groups met endlessly and tried to work out a compromise. Even
though they had worked effectively together to install the well, they were unable to
reach agreement about the posho mill. Eventually, five of the groups broke off and
established their own posho mill unit. They organized fund raising and wrote proposals
for external help. After about 9 months of fundraising, they had enough money to pay
for about 2/3 of the posho mill. The Nairobi dealer agreed to make a loan for the final
third, with the mill itself serving as collateral.

Waterand Posho Mills (cont)

The women bought the mill and have been paying off the loan with the profits
coming in from the grinding. There have been some problems. The drive belts have
been breaking more rapidly than they should, perhaps because the alignment of the
machine is not quite right. One mill operator was doing some grinding for personal
customers and either not charging or pocketing the money for his own profit. And there
have been some disputes between the different women's group as to who is putting in
more time for management versus who is deriving the profit and how it is divided
among the cooperating groups. Even with all of these problems, the women's groups
are learning a great deal and, at the moment, running a successful posho mill.

The lesson learned is that there may be some projects for which several groups
can cooperate but that the record of achievement for one effort does not
automatically mean that the same group will cooperate for a second and different
project activity.

Citing examples of problems suggests that imple-
menting PRA will take patience, energy, and hard work.
Yet the above cases are typical of the kinds of problems
that will arise in dozens of communities. Too often
problems of political conflict, strong personalities, chang-
ing social values, or cross-generational tensions over-
whelm the capacity of fragile community institutions. In
these cases where conflict or tension undercut commu-
nity action, the people and the environment are the

losers. While PRA does not bring answers or solutions,
it does contribute a process of dialogue which opens
village problems for a wider clientele and encourages
larger numbers of community members to participate.
PRA assumes that increased participation brings about
higher levels of ownership. Expanded ownership yields
increased community commitment and support. The
community backing becomes an essential element in
sustaining the enterprises.

7 Increasing Effectiveness of

Community Groups

My village
know about th
for crops, mea
going to rain.
Rural communities abound going to rain.
with opportunities to increase procedures be-
production and improve natu- find ways to ct
ral resource conservation. Sev- they did a gen
eral examples have already come
to light, through PRA, in which
village discussions, planning,
and implementation have es-
tablished common ground to
bring together different elements within the community.
While there are many different types of village institu-
tion that can be strengthened, four come immediately to
mind. They include: retired professionals who have
returned to their "home" villages; interface with exten-
sion officers; elders; and young adults, both male and
female. In very different ways, each of these groups has
considerable potential to contribute, a potential that is
not always realized. A few case examples illustrate the

has untold wealth in its old people. They
e health of their animals, planting times
icines from the forest, and when it is
Some of them also know about government
cause they used to work there. We need to
all on the wisdom of our elderly, just as
eration ago.

Kenyan University Professor

point. They may compel others to think of additional
ways to increase village productivity by strengthening
present groups and institutions.

Retired citizens

Many villages in Africa have retired residents who
have had some professional or commercial experience

for a portion of their adult lives. In one community in
Kenya a retired policeman had become an active force on
the village water committee. In another, a retired school
teacher helped to write proposals for different self-help
project needs -- cement, a posho mill, wire fencing,
plastic bags for tree seedlings, hand tools. In a third, a
retired clerk for an embassy in Nairobi had become the
assistant chief, and in a fourth example, a retired
bookkeeper for an insurance company had become
secretary for the village development committee. In each
case the contributions were considerable as they were
able to bring skills of organizing, note taking, writing,
managing, supervising, and planning that they learned in
their previous jobs. And yet many communities regard
their retired residents as excess baggage to support rather
than a vital force to help take the lead in launching
community development. PRA has helped integrate
retirees into village planning and action.

Some examples of the contributions will be helpful.
In one case, the retired person took minutes of every
meeting of the sublocation development committee. The
fact of the minutes made the meetings official and created
a sense of importance. The minutes also enabled the
group to look back over its previous discussions so that
when disagreements developed, they could refer to the
minutes to determine precisely what had previously been
agreed. The concept of minutes has spread in this
particular community so that each women's group now
keeps records of the work performance of their group.
When they get together to manage a posho mill, dig

bench terraces, or develop a water point, they record
how much work was done (ie number of meters of
terraces constructed on a particular day). This record
makes formal the group's accomplishment and at least
for this community brings a sense of dignity and
achievement to the groups and to their leaders.

Retirees have helped to write several proposals as
they bring skills of organizing and written expression.
They often have a broader view of the way outside
groups can help. Utilizing the capabilities of these
retired residents has made a big difference in the life of
these groups. It has enabled the sublocation committee
as well as the women's groups to achieve more because
of their organizing help.

Extension officers

Technical officers in water, agriculture, forestry,
and related sectors generally have good field experience
and advice about physical design. Yet most technical
officers suffer from two constraints: small budgets for
project implementation and unreliable transportation.
These constraints hold back capacities of officers to
carry out their normal duties and, in some cases, limit
field visits to rural communities.

PRA has addressed this problem in several villages.
In some cases, the community groups in PRA villages
contribute a few shillings to raise a small "technical

officers matatu fund." The cost per family may be one
or two shillings (about US $ .10). The result is that
technical officers will be reimbursed 40 shillings for
their transport costs to come to a village. Once in the
village, the previous PRA work will have put plans or at
least tentative plans in place and the technical officers can
work with village or sublocation committees to take

Once the officer visits, there may still be a constraint
of insufficient materials. Again, PRA can help. In
several cases in Machakos, the technical officers have
been able to work closely with women's groups to raise
funds for water, forestry and income generation projects.
In one case, an NGO has come because of the proposal.
In another case, the collaboration resulted in provision
of hand tools for a village. And in still another case,
materials for water tanks were acquired as a result of
technical officers and women's groups working to-

In all three of these cases, project activity was then
possible because the technical officer had materials to
work with that were previously not available. The
officer was able to turn in monthly project reports,
noting that new water projects were undertaken. The
new funds identified through PRA made such action
possible. This situation is one in which everyone wins
-- the women's group because they have new water
sources; the technical officer because he has produced
water projects in spite of a minimal budget; the provider

of funds because they were able to "contribute" a water
supply to a village at about 1/4 of the actual cost; and the
village's natural resource base because soil loss was
greatly curtailed as a result of the watershed rehabilita-

The strength of these groups working together was
what made the difference, not the individual perfor-
mance of any of the elements. PRA brought the groups

Young People

Most rural communities have abundant supplies of
unemployed young people. While they may aspire to
external wage employment, they have potentials to do
much in the village. They represent a powerful but
generally underutilized resource. One PRA example has
already been cited noting how a village teen age rock
band turned to soil erosion control. Another previously
cited example found young people patrolling the fence of
a national park, in exchange for access to water from a
borehole inside the park fence.

No easy or simple solutions exist in working with
young village residents. The drive for cash income is
overwhelming for young people and the opportunities
are slim. PRA has had limited success with income
generation in some areas by developing marketing plans
for cash crops, organizing posho mills, sponsoring

paraffin depots, and initiating handcrafts. But these are
preliminary steps in what becomes a much larger set of
exercises. The point is that young people are greatly
underutilized in rural communities and PRA has worked
well to take first steps in income generation. Cash
generating activities and rural employment creation may
be a productive area for NGOs, CDAs, and technical
officers to pursue, using PRA to develop new approaches
and applications.


One often overlooked dimension of a community are
the elderly. They represent a knowledge base of the
community that is invaluable. A generation ago, the
knowledge of these elders would have been called upon
and used in vital ways for the well-being and production
of the community. In recent years, a feeling has grown
that new, western technologies are best. While new

technologies are important and helpful, so is the lore that
the older generation brings about medicines, farming
practices, pest control measures, food storage technolo-
gies, mulching, plowing, and more. PRA creates a
setting in which young and old can meet on equal terms
in the village and consider the merits of alternative
options to solve village problems. Using the criteria of
productivity, sustainability, and equitability (see page
29), communities develop decisions in which the wis-
dom of the elders becomes one important component.

This approach is neither "pro new ways" or "pro
old ways" in its conceptualization. Rather, the PRA
methodology assumes that many different elements
within the community have experience and wisdom to
contribute, that PRA can help communities get beyond
stratification within the decision making process, and
that the full discussion of these alternatives brings
ownership that will help local institutions to sustain the


Mobilizing External


Most often, a village cannot imple- We have needed help on our roads for as long as I can
ment a CAP totally from internal re- remember. Our PRA identified transport and marketing for our
sources. While a few rural groups can crops as our first needs. Soon after the CAP was in place, we
manage PRA plans by themselves, most worked out an arrangement with a donor agency to help on the
cannot. When looking for external help, roads. We do the work and gather the ballast; the donor and
villages that have participated in a PRA the County Council share costs of the road grader. Without the
can present their Community Action Plan .
can present their Community Action Plan PRA, I don't think we would have been able to get all three
to an external agency as proof that they
are committed to their development as a groups to cooperate.
community. There is increasing evidence Village Elder
that participation by the project benefi-
ciaries has a positive effect on the imple-
mentation and sustainability of that project. As the institutions. It is particularly attractive to NGOs because
resources of development agencies working in Africa are it sets out a plan of action that has sector specific (eg.
directed to other parts of the world, a partnership water, health, sanitation,etc) components.
between external agencies and village resources be-
comes essential. Over the course of the Kenya PRAs, at least five
models of these outside helpers have emerged. A brief
Because of its "grassroots" characteristics, PRA is review of this external support provides examples of
attractive to both governmental and non-governmental some of these effective models:

MODEL 1: Local NGOs with Resources

NGOs survive on overhead earned from projects that
they manage. They are therefore interested in finding
rural communities that are well organized, have their
priorities in order, will turn out large numbers of people
for community work projects, and will participate in cost
sharing. Hence, PRA is ideally suited for NGOs, as both
villages and NGOs benefit. Technical advice, manage-
ment training, monitoring and evaluation, how to write
proposals, and bookkeeping are some of the more
obvious skills that NGOs provide. A natural partnership
can emerge between communities and NGOs.

In one instance, an NGO provided fencing material
to help a village take the first step in implementing its
CAP. The NGO and village then joined forces to raise
money. Funds have since been awarded and considerable
work accomplished. Thejoint village-NGO efforts have
worked well in other instances: KWAHO (Kenya Water
for Health Organization) served as liaison between
Africa 2000 and the village of Mbusyani during its dam
rehabilitation and spring protection projects. KWAHO
also provided technical assistance. CISS (Community
Initiaitve Support Service) of Kisumu provided technical
support to a village in Kisumu during the PRA there.
NGO and village alliances have succeeded in many areas
including: water, transport, forestry, posho mills, hand
tools, school construction, soil contouring, health, and

If a PRA community is not working with an NGO,
the village development committee might think about
finding one. There are church related groups in virtually
every part of Kenya as well as many local and interna-
tional groups. A good bet in Kenya is to make contact
with KENGO (Kenya Non-Governmental Organiza-
tions) to determine what NGOs might be available to join
with community organizations in particular areas. In
other countries, there may be an organization such as
KENGO which can supply a list of NGOs available.

MODEL 2: International Agencies and NGOs
with Resources

Other groups that can help are international NGOs
and organizations. For example, CARE Kenya has been
using PRA in Western Kenya with good results. Com-
munity organizations and CARE have joined forces to
identify needs, design plans, and implement action.
When funds are needed to support training or materials,
CARE works with local committees and develops a cost
sharing package which local communities can support.

Another example is UNICEF, also working in
Western Kenya. As a result of a 1990 PRA, UNICEF
and community groups have designed packages includ-
ing health education, nutritional programs, water devel-
opment, and child health monitoring. In these cases, the
PRA plan has provided common ground for community
groups and UNICEF professionals to join forces.

UNICEF has provided trainers, water pipe, cement,
and tools. The community has provided labor for digging
trenches and contours. As a result, the community now
has three new water points and is building two more.
Water is sold from each of the points and the funds
reinvested by the water committee into new project

Both the CARE and UNICEF examples suggest that
PRA can help to forge alliances between communities
and international organizations that bring both technical
assistance and design along
with access to funds to sup-
port cost sharing activities.

MODEL 3: Indirect
Institutional Helpers

There are other groups
beyond local and interna-
tional NGOs that may have
indirect interest. For ex-
ample, PRA has been effec-
tive in attracting the atten-
tion of groups like Kenya
Wildlife Service (KWS). In
one instance, a PRA helped
KWS to run a pipe from one
of its boreholes through a
park fence to a village water

point. In exchange, the village patrols the fence for KWS
at no charge.

In another example, the National Horticultural Mar-
keting Board was happy to work with two communities
that were producing surplus vegetables with a newly
installed irrigation system. The Marketing Board pro-
vided a technical assistant for several days in order to
help farmers work out a contract with a wholesaler. Once
in place, the contract has enabled farmers to meet weekly
delivery schedules with the wholesaler.

In each case, the needs of the village fit into a larger
picture for the cooperating institution. Interests of both
inside and outside institutions were well served. The
secret in each case was that it took little new money or
energy for a group, eg. Kenya Wildlife Service, to assist
a neighboring village. The return favor was large stores
of goodwill and local cooperation.

Village leaders might consider whether there are
organizations in their areas that might have interest in
joining forces with village institutions, including: (1)
large parastatals such as Kenya Pipeline, Kenya Meat
Commission, Kenya Cooperative Creameries, etc; or (2)
private corporate entities such as British-American To-
bacco, Esso, or horticulture exporters; or (3) research
and educational units such as the International Center for
Research on Agro-Forestry (ICRAF), International Labo-
ratory for Research on Animal Disease (ILRAD), or a
university such as Egerton. In each case, the institution
will have its own agenda but may have need for
cooperation with rural communities as well.

MODEL 4: Extension Officers

Considerable help has come from extension officers
who see how PRA can assist in their work. Many
examples exist in which an agriculture officer working
with PRA groups has raised money for hand tools; a
water officer has helped to implement a CAP and used
the community's accomplishment to raise money for

cement and iron bars for rooftop catchment tanks; and a
transport and public works officer joined with a commu-
nity to find funds for road maintenance. In each case, the
technical officers had no budgets of their own. Yet by
joining with the community groups and armed with the
PRA plans, they have been able to accomplish a great

Procedures for this technical assistance vary. In one
case, the extension officer has helped women's groups
write proposals to an NGO. In another case, the exten-
sion officer has advised village groups about making
their own contacts. In all cases, it has drawn extension
and local groups closer together.

MODEL 5: Locally-Based Proposals

Some communities have learned to write their own
proposals. Several things are important about taking on
this task. First, there is need to know where to write and
to whom to direct the proposals. One group succeeded in
getting a posho mill from the US Ambassador's Self
Help Fund. A retired teacher joined with the Sublocation
Water committee. Whereas the water committee had
done well in initiating a new irrigation system, they had
not paid close attention to income generating options
now available to them due to their increased harvests.

Discussions about how to attack the problem fol-
lowed. A Peace Corps volunteer (not assigned to this

area) happened to be meeting with village leaders and
suggested the Ambassador's fund. The group agreed,
sought the help of the retired teacher, and set about
getting started. The acutal proposal preparation took
several days -- spread out over a few weeks -- as the
teacher had to talk with several different women's
groups to learn exactly what they had in mind. When the
proposal was submitted, it was well received by the
Ambassador's Fund. Support came within a few months.

In another case, already noted above in a different
context, a PRA community approached a donor organi-
zation with a proposal that the Assistant Chief
and three village leaders had prepared. The
result was a three way agreement among the
donor, the community, and the local County
Council to improve roads for better access to
markets. All these parties are now working

In both of these instances, the community
had had the potentials to write proposals all
along. What they had not understood was the
organization to which the proposal should be
directed and the ways in which the PRA had
gained solid support among the community for
the specific work. PRA Team members helped.
In the two above cases the donor came because
of the PRA proposal and, once there, saw that
work had already started on different aspects of
their PRA plans. The combination of a well

presented proposal, a mobilized community, and action
already underway was irrestible for the donor. Support
followed within a few months.

Village leaders should consider whether there is an
energetic extension officer who will be interested in
increasing the work he or she can do by joining forces
with local villages. There are case studies available
describing such action as well as extension officers who
know about these examples. Publications and names of
these extension officers are available by making contact
with Egerton or Clark Universities (addresses at back).

9 Handling Money

No topic is more sensitive than
how local communities handle money Where has the money gone? We have had several
that is raised for a self-help project, community fund-raising activities. We have contributed
There are at least three levels of for our children to have water. Yet we see no results. And
action. we have no more water. How do we know you are holding
the money? How do we know you are telling the truth?
LEVEL 1: Having a Bank One community elder challenging another
No matter how funds are raised,
they should not be kept as cash. If a community group for each transaction is to enforce the concept that these
(not an individual) already has a bank account, see if it funds belong to the entire community and the project is
can be used for implementing the PRA project activity, supported by all members of the group.
In every case the account should be monitored by the
implementing committee and funds should be withdrawn If a group has no bank account, discussions should
only in a public transaction, including the signatures of be started about getting one. There are several issues to
the account trustees -- ideally the officers of the group consider here. First, is there a bank within 25 or 30
that owns the account, kilometers? Second, do people have a way to open an
account? If not, get advice from the CDA (Community
The reason for multiple signatures is clear. The Development Assistant). Banks sometimes want to see
reason for a committee (3 to 4 people) going to the bank money before they will open an account. The CDA may

be able to help with these kinds of arrangements. Finally,
make sure that several members of the committee (not
just the officers) are fully familiar with the account
procedures so everyone will be well informed about how
the account works and who is legally authorized to sign
for it. Learning these bank procedures is a vital part of
implementing Community Action Plans (CAPs).

In the case of a community that is many kilometers
distant from a bank, there may be problems opening an
account. Perhaps a special trip can be arranged and then
all transactions carried out by check and sent through
registered post or express mail service. But checks by
post are second and third choice options to having a bank
nearby. If any users of PRA or this Handbook have
experience with community fund accounts when banks
are many kilometers distant, your thoughts would be
welcome, either to NES, Egerton, or Clark (addresses at
the end of this booklet).

LEVEL 2: Monitoring the Account

Every bank will issue periodic statements monthly,
quarterly, or whenever a customer requests one. Expe-
rience in several PRA communities indicates that there
will be many, many rumors about the money and the
bank account. The PRA teams have watched as accusa-
tions circulate that the Chief has run off with the money;
that the chairlady of a women's group is using it to pay
school fees; or that the leader of the cooperative has

purchased a piece of land. In virtually every case, these
rumors have been false. Yet they do circulate.

PRA experience suggests that the best thing to do is
make the community bank account statements available
to any who wish to see them. One means is to have a
bulletin board near the Chief's office or the cooperative
office or some other central location in the community.
If necessary, ask the bank for two copies every time the
statement is distributed so that one can be displayed and
a second kept in a permanent file.

Use the occasion of the bank statement to help
committee members and all interested residents under-
stand how the bank account works. The team has found
that the more transparent the bank account statement is,
the more will be known by the entire community. It is a
public account; it should be treated as a matter of full and
public information. Public knowledge of bank state-
ments reduces rumors and friction.

LEVEL 3: Contracts and Funds from Out-
side Groups such as NGOs

Another area of sensitivity is managing money that
has been raised jointly with an NGO. The combined
strength of an organized community and an active NGO
working together can bring great achievement to a
community. But it can also create unbelievable misun-
derstandings. Rather than stop raising money to prevent

misunderstandings, it is better to establish procedures
that anticipate whatever misunderstandings might arise.

For example, in one community, the sublocation
water committee and an NGO raised money from a UN
group. The NGO submitted the jointly written proposal
directly to the UN; the village received no copy of the
budget. Several months later the UN awarded funds, and
because the proposal was sent by the NGO (though
prepared jointly), the funds went to the NGO. The
community still had no copy of the budget and did not
know the amount of the full grant. Further, there had
been a change in project officers within the NGO and the
new project manager knew nothing of the history of the
joint preparation of the proposal.

The project officer ordered equipment and hired
technicians, as stipulated in the contract. But he failed to
review these steps with the water committee. To make
matters worse, he did not indicate how he was managing
the funds or how he was choosing suppliers of materials
or services. Tensions mounted. The project officer felt
that the community was getting too nosey (he did not
know about the previous agreements); the community
felt the funds were partly theirs and that they should be
consulted. While the NGO was doing an effective job and
while no funds were misappropriated, the community
organizations had no way to know that.

Meetings were eventually held involving the origi-
nal NGO project officer. All misunderstandings were
resolved. Yet about three months of unnecessary ill
feelings and sensitive relationships emerged as a result
of the process. While things are now running smoothly
once again, and while good trust and confidence have
returned, the sticky patches could have been avoided.

As a general rule in operating joint PRA-NGO
project activity, it is strongly recommended that all
financial and management concerns be fully shared with
a full village management committee as well as with an
advisory committee within the NGO. While the proce-
dure may take more time and the involvement of many
money managers may detract from energy that could be
spent with projects, the investment is worthwhile. In
PRA communities where such public fund management
has been used, the relations are working well. Further,
such public or transparent management avoids gossip,
rumors and charges of financial mismanagement.

A slight variation of Level 3 is for an NGO to manage
the external funds by itself. While this model may sound
more efficient, it may lead to rumors and mistrust.
Hence, it seems best to have joint village and outside
NGO people on the money management committee.
With this option, the actual paperwork and payments
may stay with the NGO, but the supervision will be joint.

1 Epilogue

The most important lesson to learn from using PRA
is that communities can act on the basis of their own
priorities, skills, experiences, and resources. This
approach differs from present practices in many parts of
Asia, Africa, and Latin America in which development
professionals -- donors, governments, NGOs, research-
ers, and universities -- assume that rural residents should
wait for outside experts to come help.

PRA does not wait for outsiders to come. PRA
begins with the people who are the resource users and
managers. Experience from the twenty villages where
PRA is underway indicates that plans and projects
designed by outsiders tend to be less sustainable than
initiatives that local communities design and implement.
This does not suggest that there is no need for outsiders;
quite the opposite is the case. It does imply, however,
that the role of outsiders in promoting sustainable
development is to facilitate local aspirations rather than
to import external strategies and technologies.

The PRA approach therefore differs substantially from
most present practices. PRA suggests that effective
project action:

1. starts with community groups;

2. utilizes methodologies to structure, orga-
nize, rank, and plan;

3. relies on local leadership to take initiatives;

4. depends on community institutions to carry out
much of the project activity;

5. brings in outsiders for advice, facilitation, train-
ing and materials not available locally.

There is need to think about what new information
and expertise will be required to make village-based
development even more effective.

Four areas where additional research is needed are:


One of the most difficult problems when mobilizing
communities is the division within the community.
These divisions are based on many elements includ-
ing class, gender, ethnicity, age, land holdings, and
levels of education. PRA has made good progress in
dealing, for example, with divisions of gender.
Considerably more research and field trials are
needed to find ways for all members of a community
to participate equitably.

Scaling Up

Communities acting locally can design and imple-
ment sustainable activities. But all problems do not
lie within the scope of individual communities.
Issues such as transportation, pricing, infrastruc-
ture, or education have concerns at district, regional,
and national levels. PRA assessments have inte-
grated local aspirations and data into regional data
bases, using GIS, with encouraging results. More
needs to be done to build local priorities into regional
and national planning.


PRA has done well to get communities to agree on
a plan, and is now getting started with the implemen-
tation of these plans. This handbook is part of that

effort. Training for local leaders; clear understand-
ings of ways in which inside and outside entities can
work together; policy settings in which village-
based projects can flourish; and donor programs to
support village initiatives are but a few of the areas
where new insights and experiences are called for.

Baseline Data, Monitoring, and Evaluation

To date, almost all assessments of the PRA experi-
ence are anecdotal and impressionistic. The very
nature of PRA as a "process" approach to develop-
ment makes the accumulation of hard data difficult.
Work is necessary to use PRA assessments to collect
baseline information on how the community per-
ceives of its own situation and how a PRA process,
over time, has changed these village-based mea-
sures. Participatory evaluation exercises are avail-
able. For the present, however, much more needs to
be done to determine whether PRA is in fact a more
effective approach to sustainable resource use and
whether it offers promise for longer term policy and
program mandates.

Given the initial promise of PRA and the need for
greatly increased recorded experience of its use, the
authors close with a request that field users of this and
similar approaches write to us so that new elements can
be included in the continuing evolution of "Implement-
ing PRA" and in subsequent versions of this handbook.
We will appreciate your assistance.


ACTS African Centre for Technology Studies

ballast sand and gravel

CAP Community Action Plan

CDA Community Development Assistant

gravity fed irrigation irrigation without mechanical
or fossil fuel powered pumps to lift water.

ICRAF International Centre for Research on Agro-

IIED International Institute for Environment and

ILRAD International Laboratory for Research on
Animal Disease

KANU Kenya African National Union

KENGO Kenya Energy Non-governmental Organi-
zations Association

KWS Kenya Wildlife Service

Matatu bush taxi

NES National Environment Secretariat

paraffin kerosene

petrol gasoline

posho mill maize grinding mill

RRA Rapid Rural Appraisal

shamba farm

SLDC Sublocation Development Committee

Sublocation smallest administrative unit in Kenya

VDC Village Development Committee

VRMP Village Resource Management Plan

For Further Training:

Certificate Course in Gender, Resources
Management, and Development

This course offers mid-career development
professionals opportunities to gain the theoretical
base and applied skills for analyzing gender, com-
munity organization, and natural resources man-
agement in the context of sustainable development
objectives. Gender Scholars will be in residence at
Clark University during the Fall academic semes-
ter (September December), 1992.

There are two basic objectives:

to provide an understanding of gender as
a key variable organizing rural liveli-
hood systems with respect to natural re-
sources management; and

to impart skills of gender analysis into
policies and programs as well as project
design, implementation, monitoring, and

Certificate Course in Participation,
Resources Management, and

This course combines theoretical constructs
and applied skills to analyze and plan community
action.The course will be held during the Spring
semester (January May), 1993

There are two primary aims:

to provide an understanding of participa-
tion as a key variable in organizing rural
livelihood systems for sustainable natu-
ral resources management; and

to impart skills of using participatory
methodologies for programs and project
design, implementation, monitoring, and

Participatory Rural Appraisal

Egerton University (Kenya) and Clark Uni-
versity (USA) will hold a training course in
Participatory Rural Appraisal (PRA), emphasiz-
ing village level natural resources management.
Typical participants are government extension
officers and NGOs involved in rural develop-

Course Objectives:

to provide skills on how to carry out

to conduct a PRA;

to prepare a Community Action Plan
with the community;

to promote an integrated approach to
natural resources management.

The course will be held August 2-22, 1992,
at Egerton University, Njoro, Kenya. It will be
conducted in English.

Both Certificate Programs will be held at Clark University
during the 1992-1993 academic year.

Those who wish additional information should read:

Asamba, Isabella, Barbara P. Thomas-Slayter. From Cattle to Coffee: Transformation in
Rural Machakos. ECOGEN Case Study Series. Worcester: Clark University, 1991.

Chambers, Robert, Arnold Pacey and Lori Ann Thrupp, eds, Farmer First: Farmer
Innovation and Agricultural Research, Intermediate Technology Publications, London,

Chambers, Robert, Rural Development:Putting the Last First, Longman Scientific and
Technical, Essex, U.K. 1983.

Davis-Case, D'Arcy, The Community's Toolbox: The Idea, Methods and Tools for
Participatory Assessment, Monitoring and Evaluation in Community Forestry, Commu-
nity Forestry Unit of the Food and Agriculture Organization, Rome, 1990.

Davis-Case, D'Arcy, Participatory Assessment, Monitoring and Evaluation: A Field
Manual, Community Forestry Unit of the Food and Agriculture Organization, Rome,

Conway, Gordon R and Edward B. Barbier. After the Green Revolution: Sustainable
Agriculture for Development. London, Earthscan, 1990.

Eastman, Ron, Dick Ford, Anne Gibson, and James Toledano, An Introduction to
Geographic Information Systems for Resources Management, SARSA, Worcester, MA,

Ford, Richard and Francis Lelo. "Evaluating Participatory Rural Appraisal: Listening to
Village Leaders in Kakuyuni Location." Reprint from Forests, Trees and People
Newsletter, No. 13, June, 1991. Paper Number 2, Papers in International Development
and Social Change. Worcester: Clark University, October, 1991.

Ford, Richard, Charity Kabutha, and Barbara P. Thomas-Slayter. Assessing Mbusyani:
Using Participatory Rural Appraisal for Sustainable Resources Management. Paper
Number 1, Papers in Internatinal Development and Social Change. Worcester: Clark
University, October, 1991.

International Institute for Environment and Development, RRA Notes, Number 8 (January,
1990), "Manual on RRA and Related Approaches," pp. 30-35, London.

Kabutha, Charity, Barbara P. Thomas-Slayter and Richard Ford. Participatory Rural
Appraisal Handbook, World Resources Institute, in collaboration with Kenya's National
Environment Secretariat, Egerton University, and Clark University, 1990.

Korten, David C. Getting to the 21st Centruy: Voluntary Action and the Global Agenda,
Kumarian Press, West Hartford, CT, 1990.

Mascarenhas, James, et al. eds, RRA Notes, Number 13, (August, 1991) Participatory
Rural Appraisal: Proceedings of the February 1991 Bangalore PRA Trainers Workshop,
IIED, London.

Molnar, Augusta, Community Forestry: Rapid Appraisal, Community Forestry Unit of the
Food and Agriculture Organization, Rome, 1991.

Rocheleau, Dianne, Land-Use Planning with Rural Farm Households and Communities:
Participatory AgroForestry Research., Working Paper No. 36, International Centre for
Research on AgroForestry, Nairobi, Kenya.

Thomas-Slayter, Barbara P., Politics, Participation, and Poverty: Development Through
Self-Help in Kenya, Boulder, Westview Press, 1985.

For further information on PRA contact:

National Environment Secretariat
Ministry of Environment and Natural
PO Box 67839

Program for International Development
Clark University
950 Main Street
Worcester, MA 01610

The African Centre for Technology Studies
PO Box 69313

PO Box 64
3830 AB Leusden
The Netherlands

From the Ground Up
World Resources Institute
1709 New York Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20006

Egerton University
Office of Research and Extension
PO Box 536

2 Service Road
Domlur Layout
Bangalore 560 071

Director, Program in Sustainable Agriculture
3 Endsleigh Street
London WC1H ODD

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