Front Cover
 Title Page
 Table of Contents
 Purpose of the review
 Definition of the RRA toolkit
 Description of the elements of...
 Annotated bibliography
 Annex 1. Persons consulted or interviewed...
 Annex 2. Quick and dirty survey...
 Annex 3. Training capabilities...

Group Title: Community forestry note
Title: Community forestry
Full Citation
Permanent Link: http://ufdc.ufl.edu/UF00089962/00001
 Material Information
Title: Community forestry rapid appraisal : a review paper
Series Title: Community forestry note
Physical Description: 90 p. : ill. ; 30 cm.
Language: English
Creator: Molnar, Augusta
Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations
Forests, Trees and People (Program)
Donor: Marianne Schmink ( endowment )
Publisher: Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations,
Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations
Place of Publication: Rome
Publication Date: 1989
Copyright Date: 1989
Subject: Forest policy   ( lcsh )
Forest management   ( lcsh )
Forestry projects -- Management   ( lcsh )
Forestry projects -- Research   ( lcsh )
Genre: international intergovernmental publication   ( marcgt )
non-fiction   ( marcgt )
Bibliography: Includes bibliographical references (p. 62-82).
Statement of Responsibility: prepared by Augusta Molnar.
General Note: On cover: FAO/SIDA Forests, Trees and People.
 Record Information
Bibliographic ID: UF00089962
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 - 38731159

Table of Contents
    Front Cover
        Front Cover
    Title Page
        Title Page 1
        Title Page 2
        Page i
    Table of Contents
        Page ii
        Page iii
    Purpose of the review
        Page iv
        Page 1
        Page 2
        Page 3
        Page 4
        Page 5
        Page 6
        Page 7
    Definition of the RRA toolkit
        Page 8
        Page 9
        Page 10
        Page 11
        Page 12
        Page 13
        Page 14
        Page 15
    Description of the elements of the toolkit
        Page 16
        Page 17
        Page 18
        Page 19
        Page 20
        Page 21
        Page 22
        Page 23
        Page 24
        Page 25
        Page 26
        Page 27
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        Page 55
        Page 56
        Page 57
        Page 58
        Page 59
        Page 60
        Page 61
    Annotated bibliography
        Page 62
        Page 63
        Page 64
        Page 65
        Page 66
        Page 67
        Page 68
        Page 69
        Page 70
        Page 71
        Page 72
        Page 73
        Page 74
        Page 75
        Page 76
        Page 77
        Page 78
        Page 79
    Annex 1. Persons consulted or interviewed regarding applications of the toolkit
        Page 80
        Page 81
        Page 82
    Annex 2. Quick and dirty survey design: A statistical package
        Page 83
        Page 84
        Page 85
        Page 86
        Page 87
        Page 88
    Annex 3. Training capabilities of the RRA centers
        Page 89
        Page 90
Full Text
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Community forestry

rapid appraisal

,.-i; Ai



Community forestry

rapid appraisal

a review paper
prepared by
Augusta Molnar

Rome, 1989

Reprinted, 1990, 1993

All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a
retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechani-
cal, photocopying or otherwise, without the prior permission of the copyright owner.
Applications for such permission, with a statement of the purpose and extent of the
reproduction, should be addressed to the Director, Publications Division, Food and
Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, Viadelle Terme di Caracalla, 00100
Rome, Italy.

FAO 1989

The designations employed and the presentation of material in this
publication do not imply the expression of any opinion whatsoever on
the part of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United
Nations concerning the legal status of any country, territory, city or
area or of its authorities, or concerning the delimitation of its frontiers
or boundaries.


The increasing incorporation of rural development goals in forestry activities
has created a parallel need for relevant socio-economic information. Although
data is often available from independent studies conducted by sociologists and
anthropologists, it often does not focus on development or natural resource
management. When included in forestry project formulation or implementation
teams, social scientists often feel that they are not given enough time to
adequately research complicated and site specific issues. Foresters, for their
part, observe that socio-economic data is frequently too voluminous to analyze,
difficult to relate directly to programme activity design or management deci-
sions, or so time consuming to collect that it arrives too late or is out of
date before it is ready to use.

It became apparent that there was a need for alternative techniques for socio-
economic information gathering to address the above problems in community
forestry projects. One method that has been used increasingly in development
projects is called rapid appraisal. Rapid appraisal is essentially a process of
learning about rural conditions in an intensive, iterative and expeditious
manner, specifically designed to improve quality and timeliness and to reduce
cost. Characteristically rapid appraisal adopts a dialogue method in which a
small interdisciplinary team works directly with local people to identify the
constraints they face and opportunities for dressing them.

FAO wished to explore the range of techniques being termed rapid appraisal and
their potential in community forestry efforts: specifically, the information
they could provide either alone or in combination with other methods; how they
could be used in a participatory manner; and the training and other requirements
necessary to assure quality information. Consequently, through the FAO Community
Forestry Unit, a consultant, Dr Augusta Molnar, was contracted to explore the
range and effectiveness of rapid appraisal approaches being used by specialists
and practitioners in various fields. Dr Molnar reviewed relevant documentation
and interviewed a large number of social and technical specialists, researchers
and project appraisers. She documented how those currently designing and
implementing natural resource management activities were using more and less
formal rapid appraisal techniques and how these actual practices related to the
published theories and methodologies. The World Bank provided supplementary
funding and access to its networks to expand the information base. Both the
World Bank and the Oxford Forestry Institute hosted working group reviews of the

Initially the intent was to develop an internal FAO document on rapid appraisal
as a step toward a more complete review of social science methods. However,
given the overwhelming evidence of the high potential for effective use of rapid
appraisal techniques in community forestry efforts, the high quality of
Dr Molnar's work and the increasing number of requests for assistance in this
area from FAO member countries, it was decided that the report should be widely
distributed. Consequently, it has been revised and is hereby published as part
of the Forests, Trees and People Programme working document series.

The FAO/SIDA Forests, Trees and People Trust Fund Programme focuses on
developing methods, approaches and tools in support of rural people improving
their own well-being through tree and forest management. Within FAO the
Programme is coordinated by Marilyn W. Hoskins, Community Forestry Officer,
Policy and Planning Service, Forestry Department.



Acknowledgements . . . . . . . . . .. i

Purpose of the Review . . . . . . . . . . iv

I. BACKGROUND . . . . . . . . . . ... 1
1.1 Problems with Other Methods . . . . . . . 2
1.2 What the RRA Toolkit Can Contribute . . . . . 3
1.3 Underlying Methodological Issues for the Proper Use
of the Toolkit . . . . . . . ... . 6
1.4 Constraints on the Use of RRA . . . . . . 6

2.1 Of What Does the Toolkit Consist? . . . . . 8
2.2 A Tentative Framework for the Application of the
Toolkit . . . . . . . . .. . . 11

3.1 General Methods . . . . . . . . . . 16
3.2 Interview and Question-Design Techniques for
Individual, Household, and Key Informant Interviews,. .. 21
3.3 Techniques of Group Interviewing . . . . ... .26
3.4 Selection of Informants and Sampling Techniques .... .29
3.5 Interactive Tools for RRA and Participatory Planning 36
3.6 Minimum Data Sets and Proxy Indicators . . . ... .49
3.7 Specific Approaches: Packages of RRA Tools . . ... 55
3.8 Examples of Specific Village-Level or Participatory
Planning Applications . . . . .. . . . . .60

Annotated Bibliography . . . . . . . . ... .... . 62
Annex 1: Persons Consulted or Interviewed Regarding the
Applications of the RRA Toolkit . . . . . . . 8
Annex 2: "Quick and Dirty" Survey Design . . . . .... .83
Annex 3: Training Capabilities of the RRA Centers . . . ... .89


Figure 1: Toolkit for RRA ............................. 9

Figure 2: Possible Use of the Toolkit ... ......... .... .. .... 12

Figure 3: Sampling Techniques Applied in RRA Toolkit . . . . . . .... ..34

Figure 4: Sample Diagrams from RRA's in India, Ethiopia, and Indonesia . . ... 43

Figure 5: Use of a Minimum Data Set to Evaluate Sites in a Resource
Management Project in Nepal ........................ 52


A Brief History of RRA Methodology in Farming Systems Research . . . . 4

A Brief History of RRA as a Planning Too . . . . . . . . . 5

Terminology for the Reader .......................... 7

Most Useful General References on RRA Tools . . . . . . .... .17

Probing is a Key Element of RRA Interview Methods . . . . . .... 21

Evaluating Gains and Losses to Women . . . . . . . . ... 23

Interviewing Women ................... ........... 24

A High Profile Visit May Elicit Only What the Villagers Want the Team to Hear 27

Don't Believe What You Hear Until You Investigate . . . . . .... 28

Box 10: Focus Group Interviews

S. . . . . . . . . . . . 28

Sampling Techniques . .

Proving the Null Hypothesis

Situational Analysis ...

A Ranking Exercise to Elicit

Buhi Watershed Workshop ..

Nalian Women's Perception of

Homegardens in Indonesia .

Village Dialogue Approach

. . . . . . . . .

Farmer Criteria for Decision-Making

Time Burdens...........

. . . . 30

. . . . 3

. . . . 32

. . . . 40

. . . . 41

. . . . . . . .. .46

. . . . . . . . . 47

Some Possible Elements to include in Participatory Planning Models

Agroecosystems Properties ....................

. . . 48

. . . 59

Box 1:

Box 2:

Box 3:

Box 4:

Box 5:

Box 6:

Box 7:

Box 8:

Box 9:

Box 11:

Box 12:

Box 13:

Box 14:

Box 15:

Box 16:

Box 17:

Box 18:

Box 19:

Box 20:


Rapid rural appraisal techniques are being adapted by an increasing
number of technical specialists and project staff to meet the needs of programs
in natural resource management: forestry and community forestry, watershed
development, irrigation and command area development, and rangeland development.
There has been a proliferation of approaches (and manuals providing guidance in)
applying RRA techniques to project design, assessment of local conditions,
planning of activities at site level in coordination with local people (what FAO
terms local negotiations), and evaluation of the impact and effectiveness of

Individuals wishing to make use of this methodology find it difficult to
choose among different approaches, to make decisions regarding the time and
resources, including human expertise, required to undertake a survey or planning
exercise, or to identify and resolve the potential pitfalls in gathering
reliable and relevant information. With the proliferation of methods has come
an increase in the number of new terms -- jargon -- which makes it difficult for
the neophyte to understand what are the common elements of different approaches
and to evaluate the trade-offs involved in choosing among them.

This paper seeks to fill this gap. It is not a final word on the use of
RRA approaches, but it is a state-of-the-art review and a guide to the promising
approaches being developed. It serves several types of users:

1) people working in natural resource management who wish to know about
promising approaches;

2) donor agency staff responsible for designing projects in natural
resource management, who need to know what the method can do for their
project and who needs to budget for training and staff development to
undertake survey and planning exercises;

3) people using RRA techniques who need to know where the potential
pitfalls lie in the use of these techniques and how other people have
resolved them; and

4) host country staff, who lack the RRA documentation to develop a
comparative understanding of what different approaches have in common.


The most important principle to understand regarding rapid (rural)
appraisal (RRA) is that this is not a methodology of information gathering, per
se, but a creative, structured use of a particular set of investigative tools
for assessing a situation, topic, problem, or sector. RRA and its toolkit can
be described as a rapid learning process -- by creatively packaging social
science tools for gathering and analyzing information, teams using such tools
are able to assess natural resource management practices and the issues
regarding their improvement in a more accurate and cost-effective manner than
with conventional investigative methods. No RRA exercise is the same.
Different combinations of tools are used to appraise the topics of concern, and
particular tools are used to disseminate a team's findings in a more digestible
form for use by planners, project staff, local people, and government officials.
RRA was developed initially by social scientists to allow planners to get timely
information about the social and cultural dimension of natural resource
management problems, it has become a multi-disciplinary approach, which helps in
gathering and analyzing information on a variety of technical subjects. In
fact, one of the original developers of the agro-ecological perspective, Gordon
Conway, is an ecologist.

One of RRA's contributions to the design and implementation of land-based
programs has been to change the perspective of technical specialists regarding
their own topics of expertise, and to help them to redefine their research
priorities in light of factors relevant to other technical fields. In terms of
structure, RRA approaches are midway between formal survey and non-structured
interviewing (in-depth, participant observation). Unlike other investigative
methods, rapid appraisal attempts to create a dialogue with the project
clients/beneficiaries, allowing the respondent to lead the questioning as well
as the interviewer. This feature of the methodology is important to analyze the
local conditions under which proposed interventions will be promoted, because it
is conducive to collecting data regarding values, opinions, objectives, and
indigenous technical knowledge, as well as bio-physical and economic

Rapid rural appraisal methods are short-term. In general, they neither
generate statistically-sound, survey data, nor do they provide the in-depth
understanding offered by long-term, qualitative research methods. The quality
of results from an RRA-based survey or planning exercise depends heavily on the
team's quality of analytical judgement in creatively combining elements of the
toolkit and upon their experience in picking up key issues within a limited time
period. "Luck" also contributes to what information comes to light, just as it
does in investigative journalism. But only with experience, can the team
appreciate what it has just happened upon. Like anthropological in-depth
research, the approach involves analysis and assessment of issues during the
process of collecting information, rather than waiting for all interviews to be
completed as occurs in the formal survey.

However, when properly used, RRA tools can generate surprisingly reliable
and substantial information about particular problems of natural resource
management. For example, John Bruce at the Land Tenure Center has produced a

checklist on land tenure issues for use in forestry projects to identify
tenurial issues and direct further studies (Bruce, 1989). Nor is an appraisal
necessarily a one-time event without follow-on. In farming systems research,
RRA is used as a method for defining the scope of appropriate research and to
evaluate whether the research has been appropriately designed for local needs.
It can be used during project implementation as a periodic evaluation tool to
quickly assess where problems lie and provide a basis for designing a more
formal or in-depth study. Or project staff can conduct RRA exercises on a
regular basis, thereby building upon their understanding of specific problems.

1.1 Problems with Other Methods

The RRA toolkit was developed initially because of the failure of
projects to effectively draw upon other, more formal methods of information
gathering. Formal surveys often present problems of:

1) the time lag required to produce results,
2) the high cost of administering the survey,
3) low levels of data reliability due to interview-bias and
questionnaire design-based errors (what is known as non-sampling
errors in statistical jargon), and
4) the irrelevance of many of the questions for specific implementation

Long-term studies can provide important information for project planning,
but, again, there is a time-lag in getting results. Information gathered by
researchers for other purposes than the project itself for a smaller population
cannot be used directly by a project, but must first be compared with field
impressions and the results of macro-studies, before it can be applied to the
project area correctly. Nor do either formal or qualitative survey methods
generate an interdisciplinary dialogue among researchers, planners, decision-
makers, and beneficiaries, since those hired to carry out the surveys are seldom
the actual project actors.

A special set of problems has been common with the collection of
monitoring and evaluation (M&E) data by formal methods. Project M&E units have
been slow to start up relative to other staffing units, the data systems
developed have been unnecessarily complicated, analysis of information has been
slow, M&E staff have often remained marginal to decision-making staff, and the
results of surveys have not been packaged or analyzed in such a way as to prove
useful to decision-makers. Consultants hired to carry out in-depth,
qualitative research as special studies have often lacked the understanding of
practical problems of implementation and drawn untenable conclusions.
Qualitative, in-depth studies have often been omitted in project design and
analysis because decision-makers do not want to wait for the results, because
those inside and outside the country concerned who were qualified to undertake
the research were either busy with other assignments or were perceived as biased
against the agency responsible for the project.

1.2 What the RRA Toolkit Can Contribute

Properly carried out, survey and planning exercises using RRA methods can
offer several advantages. One, they are interdisciplinary exercises and can
include decision-makers as well as researchers, because the time frame is
shorter and more flexible. There is an opportunity to exchange perspectives
among researchers, decision-makers, and beneficiaries. This can lead to
institutional support for in-depth or formal research, if decision-makers and/or
researchers become convinced of the importance of a specific problem. Decision-
makers are much more likely to approve a longer-term study to evaluate land
tenure issues in their project area, for instance, if one of them has
participated in some of the field visits that clearly identified this as a key
project constraint. The study design is also likely to reflect more realistic
problems because of the interdisciplinary perspective employed.

Two, interview techniques are more open-ended than statistical survey
questionnaires, and reduce the non-sampling errors resulting from poor question
choice and lack of cross-checking to see that the interviewee and interviewer
have understood one another. Three, the toolkit for Natural Resource Management
includes a number of interactive tools for gathering information through close
discussion with local clients. 2 These techniques provide a structure to the
discussion that allows researchers and interviewees to see the situation from a
shared perspective. Mapping is one such tool, that is now entering more long-
term, qualitative field studies for this reason. Fourth, RRA methods allow for
re-evaluation of the hypotheses during the course of fieldwork -- such as is the
methodology in long-term, qualitative research -- so that questions can be
adjusted in light of new information.

2. The term "clients" is preferable to the term "beneficiaries" because
it implies an active relationship between project staff and the resident
population, rather than a passive one of merely "receiving" benefits.

Box no. 1 A Brief History of Rapid Rural Appraisal Methodology In Faming Systems Research

Rapid Rural Appraisal methodology has developed partly out of survey methods for Farming System
Research and Extension (FSR/E) developed by the International Agriculture Research Centers (CGIARs),
and by a variety of host-country agricultural institutions. FSR/E social scientists have generated a
number of approaches, including (from Chambers 1985):
1) Peter Hildebrand's Sondeo (Hildebrand 1981), whereby teams of 5 agronomists or other technical
agriculture specialists and 5 social scientists spend 5 days In the field, interviewing in rotating
pairs of technician/social scientist, summing the results at the end:

2) Robert Rhoades' Farmer-back-to-Farmer (Rhoades 1982), whereby Informal surveys are used to define
the problem and identify solutions by an inter-disciplinary team, the intervention is tested, using
farmer evaluation, and farmers deliver the 'last Judgement';

3) L.W. Harrington's use of recommendation domains (Harrlngton 1984), whereby farmers are grouped by
various criteria into 'domains' for the purpose of field surveys and applied research. These domains
can also determine the scope for disseminating recommendations:

L) Robert Chambers'paper, "Agriculture Research for Resource-poor Farmers, Part 2. A Parsimonious
Paradigm" (co-author, Janice JiggLns, Agricultural Administration and Extension, 27(2) 109-128, 1987),
whereby the special circumstances and constraints surrounding "RPF"s are the focus of informal surveys
and extension research; notably such farmers' lack of access to credit, constraints in availability of
family labor, poorer quality farmlands, less access to irrigation, and poor market access for good

5) ICRAF's Diagnosis and Design (RaLntree 1986), whereby agro-forestry strategies are outlined
through surveys which address trees as well as crops and broad production and conservation objectives
usually omitted in FSR considering productivity, sustalnabllty and adaptability; and

6) Program In International Agriculture (Cornell University)'s Regional Analysis of Farming Systems
(Garrett, et.al 1987), which covers the usual range of topics with a well thought out section on
informal survey questions regarding food habits and nutritional standing.

All of these approaches see Rapid Appraisal as part of a continuing and on-going learning process,
whereby the results of each stage are used to re-evaluate the Issues and projected solutions Many of
the interview and survey techniques developed through these approaches have great applicability to
community forestry. In particular is the need to see the farming system as a whole and to view the
problems from both the Individual farmer as well as group community perspective, especially to
understand how land-use issues impinge on individual farmer decision-making. The special constraints
on the "resource poor farmer" are also quite Important in designing tree-crop interventions, pasture
Improvement schemes, or common resource Inputs that require community labor contributions.

Methodologically, FSR guidelines pay considerable attention to:

I) providing pointers for establishing a more reliable context in which to hold the Interview, 2)
collecting information using locally-customary categories, particularly for weights, measures, and
time estimates, 3) creating a good rapport with the respondent before addressing sensitive issues, 4)
encouraging the respondents to take the discussion into areas important to them, 5) discussing results
throughout the Interview process with the team as a whole, 5) recording and annotating Information
collected in the field, so that there is limited memory bias, and 6) cross-checking Information
through direct observation and use of mapping techniques

There are several sets of guidelines which address FSR/E survey and interview methodology. The most
complete reference is Shaner, Phllipp, and Schmehl (1982). This work Includes appendices as well as
discussion in the text of possible non-statistical random sampling, ways to reach commonly excluded
groups, such as women, ways to determine farmer decision-making patterns, etc. This reference does
not, however, evaluate the criteria for choosing between different techniques for use In different
circumstances in a comprehensive fashion. It provides a useful reference guide to social scientists,
but requires that they have sufficient experience with the material to make their own Judgements
regarding which techniques they wish to use. The Farming Systems Support Program at University of
Florida has also prepared detailed training materials for FSR/E (Odell, Odell and Franzel, 1986) which
Include a detailed bibliography of Farming Systems Research literature.

Unresolved Issues and Gaps in FSR Methodology

For designing and carrying out activities in agro-forestry, the FSR approaches with the
modifications introduced by the D&D specialists at ICRAF are extremely important for community.
forestry. Many of the techniques are also applicable to the use of informal surveys in visits to the
field for project design, supervision, and evaluation. There are five main limitations to the
applicability of the FSR approach to community forestry and land-use planning needs.

First, FSR does not tend to pay attention to the non-landed population in the rural area, which
are a particular target of community forestry on public and communal lands.

Second, FSR is not tailored to the broad range of circumstances In which rapid information
gathering takes place for varied project design, monitoring and implementatLon.

Third, FSR has not generally provided guidelines for negotiating with local groups for activities
such as common resource management, or for involving private voluntary institutions in village-level
activities. One exception is Rocheleau, 1985, but this is limited to experience in Africa.

Fourth, FSR does not generally gear questions to the longer time frame required by agro-forestry
(Except for D&O methodology). Recommendations for tree planting must take into account the future
farming system as well as the present one, so that the recommendation will remain valid throughout the
tree's growing cycle.

Fifth, FSR has not yet generated a commonly agreed-upon list of socio-economic indicators or
variables relevant to land-use surveys nor has it generated an agreed-upon list of proxy indicators
that can be used to measure hard-to-gather information indirectly.

An important thing to remember when comparing newer approaches to RRA-tools and FSR/E methods is
that FSR/E methods are also rapidly evolving and incorporating new approaches. An annual symposium Is
hosted by the University of Arkansas for FSR/E that Leads to considerable exchange of new approaches
and more holistic farming systems research and analysis. This is particularly the case for research
on upland areas where mixes of perennial and annual crops are the norm.

Box no. 2 A Brief History of RRA as a PlannLng Tool

Parallel to the Farming Systems Research efforts to develop
RRA as a diagnostic survey tool were efforts in the
bilateral donor agencies in the 1970's to develop more
people-oriented approaches to planning. These agencies were
beginning to recognize that development strategies did not
alleviate poverty as expected and that ignorance of
socioeconomic factors and Issues led to massive project
failures. Development practitioners oriented to these
problems -- often social scientists by trainLng -- began to
tailor existing analytical and Information-gatherlng tools
to planning needs. Out of these came a form of rapid
appraisal using many of the same tools as RRA in Farming
Systems Research and Extension.

1.3 Underlying Methodological Issues for the Proper Use of the Toolkit

The term "properly carried out" has been used in several statements in
the above background section. This is the kingpin of the controversy regarding
the applicability of RRA methods to a wide range of purposes during both program
planning and project execution. The RRA toolkit is: a) rapid, so that results
can be quickly made available to decision-makers, b) eclectic, tailoring diverse
interview and survey techniques to meet the needs of specific information
gathering aims, c) holistic, capturing a multi-disciplinary picture of the local
situation, and d) interactive, generating a dialogue between researchers and
project clients.

The toolkit includes proven techniques from interview and survey
methodology adapted to the specific purpose of the planning or survey exercise.
Methodological decisions are made by the team members on the basis of personal
experience and professional understanding of ways to reduce bias in gathering
information. The quality of a field survey using RRA is thus highly dependent
upon the expertise of the individuals carrying out that exercise. This caveat
has led to considerable controversy regarding the extent to which the use of RRA
generates reliable information adequate to its purpose.

1.4 Constraints on the Use of RRA

This constraint has been recognized from the initial development of the
RRA toolkit. Early on, this was not a major problem because RRA was used in
limited instances and generally was carried out by highly-trained, field-
experienced professionals who paid quite conscious attention to methodological
issues. The use of RRA in natural resource management has now greatly expanded
and the toolkit is now being adapted to a wide range of purposes and carried out
by a diverse set of people -- expert social scientists, technical specialists of
other disciplines, higher-level project managers, local-level extension staff,
M&E staff, and lower-level researchers in provincial institutes. There are as
yet very few guidelines regarding the minimum levels of training required to
properly use different parts of the toolkit. There are also few critical
evaluations of the methodological underpinnings of the different techniques
which define basic parameters for their sound application.

Why is this gap there? Several reasons. First, the toolkit is
relatively new and the problems which emerge in common from its use in different
situations are only beginning to be understood. Second, the applications of the
toolkit vary considerably and there has been a hesitancy on the part of the
writers of guidelines to generalize about methodological issues across different
applications. Third, as long as the RRA experts responsible for generating
guidelines and conducting training were professional social scientists, it has
been assumed that the answers to emerging methodological quandaries would fall
in the category of "common sense" (to quote Robert Chambers) -- basic
principles of sound data collection learned through academic training and/or
through extensive, practical experience in field interviewing.

This paper tries to summarize the methodological issues which have
emerged in the application and development of the RRA toolkit, so that

individuals making use of various manuals and approaches are aware of their
existence. In addition, it compares the solutions to some of these issues used
in different approaches, to help individuals in the practical selection of these
alternatives. It is hoped that this presentation will provide a step in the
eventual resolution of these issues as RRA becomes more widely used and our
experience grows.

The question of whether proper training in RRA approaches can help
resolve the methodological issues is receiving increasing attention among the
main proponents of the approach. Khon Kaen University staff in Thailand,
International Institute for Environment and Development and University of Sussex
in England, and ICRAF in Kenya are all grappling with the problem of convincing
those host-country institutions who are trying to develop this methodological
capability, that instant training in this method is not possible. There is no
consensus even among this core group, however, as to what is adequate training
of trainers and independent practitioners. Some argue six months, some three
months, some six months followed by several years of practical application.

One section of this paper will analyze the methodological issues in some
detail and discuss ways that these are being addressed in current approaches.

Box no. 3 Terminology for the Reader


Key Individual Household Groups as
Informants Respondents Respondents Respondents


CGIAR -- International Centers for Agricultural Research.

Diagnostic Survey -- Survey carried out In FSR/E to initially define research topics of
interest to researchers.
D&D -- Diagnosis and Design
FSR/E -- Farming Systems Research and Extension: an interdisciplinary program
developed for International Centers for Agricultural Research (CGIAR)
and disseminated to other agricultural institutes around the world.
ICRAF -- International Center for Research on Agro-forestry.
IDS -- Institute for Development Studies. University of Sussex, Brighton,
United Kingdom
IIED -- International Institute for Environment and Development, London,
United Kingdom
MSE -- Monitoring and Evaluation

Non-governmental organization

NGO --


2.1 Of What Does the Toolkit Consist?

Since this is a review paper rather than an original work, massive
liberties have been taken with the available materials on RRA. For this
section, I have adapted a table (Figure 1) from an extensive treatment of RRA
methods (Grandstaff and Grandstaff, page 84, in Khon Kaen University, 1987),
which itemizes the gamut of tools and their uses. The toolkit, in other words,
is both eclectic and broad-ranging. This table summarizes well, however, what
types of techniques fall under the heading of RRA methods in a wide number of

The tools include:

1) interview and question-design techniques for individual, household,
and key informant interviews,
2) methods of cross-checking information from different sources,
3) sampling techniques that can be adapted to a particular objective,
4) methods of obtaining quantitative data in a short time frame,
5) group interview techniques, including focus-group interviewing,
6) methods of direct observation at site level, and
7) use of secondary data sources.

RRA approaches combine selected elements of the toolkit to provide a
comprehensive methodological framework for gathering and assessing information
in the field. The typical length of time that an RRA exercise is allocated
ranges from 3 days to 2 months and can cover single villages or a 10,000 square
mile project area. The methodological choices enter in when deciding who should
be on a team, whether to collect quantitative or qualitative information about a
particular issue, on whether to apply formal survey methods to field interviews,
when selecting the range of individuals and groups to talk to, when selecting
the representative sites to be seen, when allocating tasks among team members,
and when making use of interactive tools.

There is no set way to combine these tools for the purposes of a study or
planning exercise. In some circumstances, the choice of tools is determined by
an already defined set of parameters. Let us assume, for instance, that
information on the local land-use system, local needs, and institutional
capacity is needed quickly to help in preparing a preliminary design for a
social forestry program for a sizable province. The concerned planner has
allocated enough resources for three social forestry professionals from varied
disciplines and three local extension agents (foresters and agriculturalists) to
spend two weeks in the province to gather some additional information to what is
available in secondary sources and what is presently known to staff of the two
extension services. In this situation, the team is a given, the time frame is a
given, and what remains to be determined is how many and which people will be
interviewed, how many and which sites in the province will be visited, what
forms of measurement and direct observation will be employed, and whether any
interactive data gathering techniques will be used, such as mapping or ranking
of priorities with local villagers and/or extension staff.


Semi-Structured Interviews
(HH or key informant)

General Methods
Interview Guides

Group-Level Interviews and Observation
(Village or Site level)

Team Dynamics

Secondary Data
Team Interaction

Direct Measurement

Tape Measure
Volume Measure

(rotating pairs)
Minimum Data Sets

Individual Tools

- Non-leading
- Six helpers
who, what, when
where, how, why
- Probing
- Local Names
- Folk Taxonomy (ITK)
- Oral History
- Case History

Schematics Time/Space
Direct Observations

- Crop calendar
- Timeline
- Cross section

Historical T.


- Focus group
- Village meeting
- Open discussion
- Discuss survey
- EIA in village
- Staff interviews

Pre Existing

- Studies
- Reports
- Site data
Aerial Photos
Spot Imagery

- Expert opinion


- General
- Specific
- Locally derived
- Dynamic over

Direct Observations

- Roads/trails
- Village walks
- Markets
- Shops
- High place w/view
- Houses, compounds
- Meeting places
- Festivals
- Stay overnight


- Houses
- Trees
- Fields
- Vehicles
- Bicycles
- Tractors
- Ponds

* Adapted by author from Grandstaff and Grandstaff (referenced in text), representing variety of tools used
in RRA at Khon Kaen University, Thailand

In other circumstances, decision-making may be relatively open, within
the confines of a six-months to a one-year deadline, or within a budgetary
constraint of only 1% of the budget for feasibility studies. For example, a
watershed program is being developed for some pilot watersheds in a province and
planners need to understand the present land-use system from the multiple
perspectives of the provincial and local government and the local population.
Information is needed within a six-month period and any team can be constituted
within reason. Here, the choice of expertise and number of team members is
fluid and the research can be done over a one-week, two-week, or two-month field

There are a number of what are termed here as "package approaches" that
have been developed by various RRA experts which provide the potential user with
a relatively set combination of tools, often geared to a particular purpose --
in-depth problem analysis, general program formulation, or village-level
planning of activities. These include, for example:

1) Agro-ecosystems analysis at IIED

2) Farming systems research diagnostic surveys at the CGIARs

3) Diagnosis and design at ICRAF

4) Village dialogue, Autopromotion, Microplanning, and other
village-level planning approaches

5) RRA as promoted at IDS, Sussex

6) RRA as promoted at Khon Kaen University, Thailand

One problem for institutions trying to develop a host-country expertise
in RRA methods is that the similarities and differences among these approaches
are not clearly understood by newcomers to this field. In some countries,
individuals from the same government agency have received training at different
points in time from trainers advocating different approaches to what is
basically RRA (sometimes called RRA and sometimes, diagnostic survey
approaches). Yet, because the agency staff never really understood that these
were different aspects of the same type of methodology, the trainees of the two
different courses believed they were doing two different things, impeding the
trading of information among the two sets of participants. Those trainees who
had participated in both training courses were unaware the courses were closely
related and compartmentalized the information from each course, rather than
having each set of coursework reinforce the other. What is different in these
approaches is often the choices of resources, time frame, or mix of interview
types, not the basic principles or underlying methodological rules. This should
become clearer in the section of the paper describing the elements of the

2.2 A Tentative Framework for the Application of the Toolkit

Figure 2 provides a tentative outline for the kinds of purposes for which
RRA methods can be used and outlines the types of methods in that toolkit which
are most appropriate for each of these different purposes. This is not a cut-
and-dried set of choices -- but depends upon resources, objectives, and the time
period within which the RRA exercise will be carried out.

One confusion that arises in discussions of the toolkit is between the
use of a tool as a means of information gathering and analytical assessment
versus its use as a means of presenting a team's findings. For instance, the
farming systems research transects of land-use are used both as an interactive
tool for letting interviewees understand what researchers wish to know about
their land-use system, also, for analyzing the nature of issues and problems
entailed in that system, as well as to present information in a concise and
pointed fashion to decision-makers about the findings. These multiple purposes
become confused in methodological discussions of whether or not and how a tool
should be applied. The reader should keep this point clearly in mind in the
section that compares different approaches, since the same tools can serve
different purposes even within the same RRA approach. While a tool can be a
powerful means of presenting information, it may or may not be the most sound
tool for gathering or evaluating that piece of information in terms of the
analytical problem or topic that the RRA sets out to assess. Those new to RRA
often make the mistake of assuming their information is correct if it is
collected in a systematic table as outlined in a particular field manual. This
is not necessarily the case. For example, simply making use of a village
transect to collect information does not guarantee that the team will correctly
identify the full range of cropping strategies in each altitudinal category.
Nor does use of a tool as an analytical aid necessarily mean it will be the best
way of introducing findings into a planning session.

Fioure 2_ POSIL USE__ OF_ TH LI

Team Composition


Group vs House

Initial program 1-2 months Small multi- Direct observa- Mainly group
formulation infield disciplinary tion, key interviews, subdivide
define problem and/or groups of experts, informants, team and groups. HHS
parameters, including Local extension group inter- visits and interviews
possible inter- literature agents, officials, views, help identify special
ventions, key review, and villagers, secondary data & interest groups, key
issues, and topographical informants. Creative
information Subdivide as maps. Team mix of these decided
needs. needed a La subgroups rotate during field exercise
Conway, members to and changed in light of
Identification Hildebrand, or maximize per- emerging information.
Stage ICRAF. pectives.

Indepth look at 1/2-10 Smaller team of Reasking for More use of focus
specific problem days per experts, agency information in groups, household
2 areas at design represen- staff, different ways interviews, probing,
stage tative facilitators, during six helpers, key
area, villagers, NGOs. interviews. informants. May attempt
total: Situational more systematic combin-
1 week-2 analysis, ation of interviews
months. Hypothetical than in (1) above and
questions, quantify to greater
Participant extent.
Legal statutes/

Appraising design 1-2 months Mix of subteams Ask simple More focus on groups.
3 to help finalize focussing on questions in Household interviews to
project plan different sets of each site. explore individual
key issues. Many Combine direct strategies--perhaps
team meetings to observation, with well-defined
exchange interviewing and sample. Focus groups
information, key informants useful.
as in 1.

Initial stages of

- Help define
monitoring system
- Explore key

- Village level
planning process



J. 4 +

Project staff,
facilitators, key
experts, NGOs,

Compare answers
from different
sessions. Do HH
interviews to
elicit a wider
range of
opinions, use
games ta elicit
local think-

Interview villagers to
see what they would
like to know. Interview
groups of field staff
of different ranks to
determine how much data
they can collect.

Multistage interviews
with whole group and
special interest groups
allow villagers to
think about problems
between sessions and
allow "invisible"
groups to speak up.


Time Frame

1 month

1/2 day-1
week per
May be in

giF ure 2: POSSIBLE


Data Over Time


Minimum Data

Possible Follow-on

Introduce Change in Land Limited use due Open-ended Formal random surveys
random site use, prices, to time checklists, of population, family
selection, markets, crop- constraints system, Land use.
Random ping, resources, Agroecosystems RRA of special issue.
choice of employment, checklists. Indepth village study
informants migration. of representative site
halfway Cycles -- Diagnostic and conditions.
through climate design check-
survey to rain List.
check Life cycle
hypotheses, of house- Khon Kaen
NuLL hold checklist.

Same as above Sketch maps, Agroecosystem Economical design of a
village Design. formal survey of key
transects, issues perhaps using
Labor Khon Kaen results of RRA to
calendars, checklist, define sample size
ranking games. based on variation in
Physical Local population.
devised by RRA

Null ALready Like 1 -- Coordinate M&E and other studies
hypothesis available to unlikely to be checklists among during implementation.
team from an important subteams.
Stratified earlier RRA and tool.
sampling by formal study. Checklists on
site and institutional
whole capacity are key
project here.

Evaluate Devise ways for
possible communities to monitor
checklists by progress as well as
protesting in monitoring by agency
household and itself.
group interviews Formal surveys.
in field.

Collect same as
above if not

ALL tools to
help village
existing con-
traints &
tial victim.
Sketch maps for
village Land-
use plan. Labor
calendar to
identify Labor


Team Composition

Cross Checking

Group vs House

_ _ _ I I-

Monitoring and
evaluation during

- Problem analysis
for qualitative

Follow general methods outlined for in-depth study at design stage

- Cross check for- 1-3 weeks Small team of See Lists above Discuss reasons for
mal survey data technical staff, in 1. Can make findings from formal
research extensive use of surveys with target
technicians, RRA physical group/clients.
social scientist, measurement
field staff, M&E techniques.
unit members, and

- Key planners into
areas of imple-
mentation for
which special
study is needed.

Mid-way assessment
of project focus
6 and achievements

M&E staff, field
staff, selected

Experts, project
staff, and
Subdivide to draw
off officials in
discussions where
their presence
would bias

Spot visits
apart from
Cross check
group interview
results with HH
and focus group
achievements in
forest and
farmer Lands.
Discuss process
there not

Interview special
interest groups.

Both group and
household interviews,
particularly including
special interest
groups. Focus group
and informal discussion
with field staff of
various ranks so
underlings are free to
express opinions.

Final evaluation 1-2 months Same as above Cross check M&E Same as mid-way review.
7 results, special Be sure to do some
study data. probing and use helpers
in interviews where
time permits.

Other special uses
Tools to present
8 data in convincing
form to planners

Have planners join
teams for a few
field visits to
participate in the
appraisal and

sessions with villagers
in group interviews.


Time Frame

1 day- 1

1-2 months
in field

std is neeed

Sampling Techniques

Data Over


Minimum Data Sets


Random area See lists Can make use of Can follow checklists fairly Beneficiary
selection by above in this particu- closely if based on good assessment
stratified choice 1. larly to ana- understanding gained in design as outlined
of sites. Lyze data from stages and pre-project in World
local perspec- surveys. Bank docu-
Null hypothesis. tive and to ent by
convince Larry
managers. Salmen.

Random crosscheck Same as Thus elicit comparable data
of sample findings. above, for a number of different
Concentrate sample sites.
on special interest
groups for which
data is least

Same as above Same as

Random site Same as Labor calendar Select criteria such as Small
selection in above to identify identified in Parker sample
addition to labor and time evaluation to evalu- survey
suggested sites. constraints, ate objectives.
Draw sample from
M&E formal survey Ranking games to Select items on checklist
sample for identify fits of based on hypothesis to test
interviews, technical and problems expected.
packages to
Use health or local needs and Clearly allocate responsi-
political or interests. ability to team members where
nursery Lists to they need to interact among
pick random sample, technical disciplines or
collect information for each

Subcontract small Same as Village transect
formal survey of above may help
key topics during evaluate on
eval. period, which lands
Null hypothesis, farmers adopting
Same as above, different

evidence of key
findings through a
form of sample
surveying to
complement the RRA

Same as

Overlays of
information of
factors on
sketch maps,
transects, time
calendars, flow
charts & graphs.

Draw planners into discussions
to devide on checklists and
teams' methodology.


There are two ways in which to organize the discussion of the techniques
that are included in the RRA toolkit and the situations in which they are
applied. One is according to the purpose for which they are to be used. The
other is in terms of specific techniques. In this section of the discussion,
the decision has been to focus on the specific techniques, describing them
briefly and indicating some of the types of circumstances in which they are
applied. Where there are strongly controversial issues related to the use of
particular techniques, such as is the case regarding the value and applicability
of formal sampling to RRA exercises, these aspects of the toolkit are discussed
subsequently at greater length as detailed issues.

3.1 General Methods

The general methods that are employed in RRA to address the time
constraint on data collection and analysis are: use of cross-checking or
triangulation, extensive reliance on the available secondary data, use of
detailed but open-ended interview guides to ensure pertinent issues are covered,
and extensive team interaction to maintain a multi-disciplinary perspective.
This paper will not go into detail about these general methods. The box below
lists a number of excellent sources that describe the general principles of the
RRA toolkit.

The most important principle is open-mindedness. Most errors in RRA
occur because the team stopped questioning their hypotheses and accepted their
findings at a too early stage. A good team always questions the findings that
are emerging and chooses tools and methods that provide new evidence and raise
new issues. Simple using RRA to confirm one's assumptions is the biggest
pitfall in applying such an approach.

3.1.1. Triangulation

Triangulation or cross-checking is not unique to RRA methods. It means
quite simply gathering information about a particular topic from a variety of
different sources, using a variety of data-gathering methods. If, for instance,
a farmer informs the team that eucalyptus will not grow along his field
boundaries without greatly reducing his yields, the team should "check" this
information by asking other farmers with similar fields, by discussing this
issue in group interviews, by checking what project reports have said on this
subject, or by measuring the impact of existing trees on crops in other fields.
If the same information is heard repeatedly, it is likely to be correct. The
trick in using cross-checking is to be sure the information is actually coming
from a different source. Teams with tight time constraints often make the
mistake of asking questions only in a limited geographic area and only read
reports regarding that limited area, and come away generalizing about a very
site-specific or class-specific phenomenon. For example, one FSR/E expert talks
about a diagnostic survey team which concluded labor was a severe constraint to
farmers in the harvest season. In fact, this information only pertained to the
small set of farmers they had interviewed, who lived relatively close to a
sugar-cane growing area and who migrated at harvest time to capitalize on the

high wages paid by the sugar-growers. Their cross-checks had not included a
broad enough geographic radius.

3.1.2. Pre-existing Data

This topic is well-discussed in the sources mentioned above. The proper
use of pre-existing and secondary data is always problematic in the short RRA
exercise, since there is seldom adequate time allotted to the team for
background literature review and document-reading. Some research team leaders
make a conscious effort to budget field time to include substantial gaps of time
during which team members can read documents, particularly those only discovered
in the field visit area. For natural resource management planning, maps and
photographs of many different kinds are a key set of pre-existing information
rapidly increasing in use. Practitioners also go back to raw data collected in
surveys and re-analyze key topics before going to the field. One issue for the
proper use of aerial photographs and remote-sensing imagery is the need for


Beebe, James, Rapid Rural Appraisal: The Critical First Step in a Farming Systems Approach to
Research. Farming Systems Support Project, University of Florida, Gainesville, Networking Paper No.
5., 1985.

Chambers, Robert, "Shortcut Methods of Gathering Social Information for Rural Development Projects,"
in Putting People First, M. Cernea, ed., Oxford University Press, New York, 1985.

Gow, David, "Rapid Rural Appraisal: Social Science as Investigative Journalism," in Finsterbusch,
Kurt, Jay Ingersoll and Lynn Llewellyn, eds., Fitting Projects: Methods for Social Analysis for
Projects in Developing Countries. Lynne Rienner Publishers, Boulder, Colorado, 1987.

Honadle, George, "Rapid Reconnaissance for Development Administration: Mapping and Moulding
Organizational Landscapes," World Development, 10(8):623-649.

Khon Kaen University, Proceedings of the 1985 International Conference on Rapid Rural Appraisal, Rural
Systems Research and Farming Systems Research Projects, Khon Kaen, Thailand, 1987 (Contains a number
of the papers cited here separately).

Kumar, Krishna, Rapid. Low-Cost Data Collection Methods for A.I.D., U.S.A.I.D. Program Design and
Evaluation Methodology Report, No. 10, U.S. Agency for International Development, Washington, D.C.,

McCracken, Jennifer, Jules Pretty, and Gordon Conway, An Introduction to Rapid Rural Appraisal for
Agriculture Development, International Institute for Environment and Development (IIED), London, 1988.

Rhoades, Robert, The Art of the Informal Agricultural Survey, Lima, Peru: International Potato Center,

RRA Notes; A Newsletter for the RRA Network, Numbers 1-6, International Institute for Environment and
Development (IIED), London, 1988-89.

Shaner, W.W., P.F. Philipp, and W.R. Schmehl, Farming Systems Research and Development: Guidelines for
Developing Counties, Westview Press, Boulder, Colorado, 1982.

individuals on the team or available to the team who are adequately trained to
interpret these documents. Often this requires someone who knows the area in
the map or photograph well, along with an expert in map or photo interpretation.

3.1.3. Interview Guides

Two of the findings of this review have been that: 1) the systematization
of interview guides for land-based, natural resource management planning is
increasing, and 2) this is a methodological area which would benefit greatly
from more work on compilation of the interview guides being developed by
practitioners for different topics. Interview guides differ by subject matter
and by the geographic area for which they are being used. More guidelines are
being developed for specific topics and specific areas. As mentioned above,
John Bruce (1989) has developed a series of checklists on land-tenure issues.
Barbara Grandin (see Annex 1 for address) has developed a ranking exercise to
reveal wealth criteria. A number of host-country institutes are working on
developing sets of socio-economic proxy indicators and sets of checklist topics
that are applicable to short-term, field work. Articles are beginning to appear
in the academic literature regarding the applicability of specific indicators to
different field situations, for example see Schwartz (1988). The RRA Notes
which are regularly published as a newsletter by IIED, London, has tried to
compile the available information on the progress made on this topic.

One particular topic that is only beginning to receive detailed attention
in interview guides is institutional and staff capability and constraints.
While teams tend to pay close attention to bio-physical issues, socio-economic
issues, or human resource issues related to the beneficiary/client population, a
weak area has been sufficient questioning about the dynamics of local-level
functioning of an agency or organization in terms of staff incentives,
supervisor/worker relationships, status of staff vis-a-vis their clients,
decision-making strategies, and organizational priorities.

3.1.4. Interdisciplinary Team Interaction

A commonly-recommended system of allocating team resources during a RRA
exercise is the sondeo. Sondeo is a Spanish term applied to a system of team
interaction developed in the CGIARs, initially by Peter Hildebrand. Under this
system, the team members split up in pairs each day of the field visits,
rotating the composition of the pairs, so that participants of different
disciplines all benefit from interacting with each other on a one-to-one basis.
The team members in this system meet regularly as a whole to redefine their
objectives, discuss emerging hypotheses, and reallocate their time for the
remainder of the RRA exercise. Most RRA exercises advocate some version of this
principle of mixing and matching disciplines in an optimal way. In reality,
this often remains more of a principle than applied reality, because of
perceived time constraints or the difficulty of imposing this degree of order on
the team members' interactions.

Interaction with a multi-disciplinary team becomes a central issue for
the social science-trained members of an RRA team. Often these team members are
the most sensitive to the pitfalls of field survey techniques and are most
conscientious about finding ways to avoid the pitfalls. They are frustrated in

field interviews when other team members are not aware that lines of questioning
or survey approaches are generating misleading information. Yet it is a
difficult decision as to whether these specialists are more useful when they
spend substantial amounts of time apart from the main team or not. Particularly
when RRA is used for a broad-purpose, exploratory exercise, team members have
multiple objectives: collect good data about the local situation, provide
multi-disciplinary perspectives on the issues, interact closely with local
people, and sensitize planners and decision-makers present in the field to
particular, sticky, problem areas. Jamieson (1987) has a good article about the
interactive RRA paradigm, and why it provides a very different perspective to
the process of rural development project planning than do other forms of

3.1.5. Issues for Multi-Disciplinary Team Interviewing

In interviews conducted for this review, particularly with social
scientists who use RRA techniques on a regular basis, an interesting mix of
opinions emerged regarding the best ways to develop a good team interaction and
still allow the social scientist to maximize the quality of information
collected from local people. Some argued strongly that the role of the social
scientist in a team setting was threefold: to collect relevant socio-economic
information for recommending a course of action, to introduce a social
perspective to team members from technical disciplines and project officials,
and to provide training for officials and extension workers in fruitful methods
of interviewing beneficiaries through the RRA exercise itself. Leaving the team
for several days of independent interviews, perhaps with a translator or junior
project staff member, was seldom a wise decision unless a special target group
was likely to be excluded from the sample unless they went alone to interview
them. What was important to these social scientists was that other team members
and officials have confidence in their observations -- something only possible
if other team members and planning officials experienced the interviews for
themselves. This group concurred with the article by Jamieson, arguing that
good RRA is revolutionary for project planning because it leads planners to
genuinely talk to target participants -- both host-country planners as well as

How the team split in the field for this opinion group was a question of
logistics -- available vehicles and how high profile the visit had become. With
more than one vehicle in high profile situations, one vehicle could take the
"official" route and the other an informal/considered route. With proper team
preparation, sub-teams could ask questions for each other and compare notes in
the evening. (Though with big teams and big agendas, this seldom happens -- with
no time to complete the sets of issues in team's checklist most pertinent to
your own area of expertise, individual team members tend to ignore topics of
interest to other members.)

The training function of field interviewing was also considered central.
Spending time interviewing with extension staff provided these staff with
invaluable training for carrying out subsequent sensitive interviews and for
becoming aware of the importance of previously unnoticed socio-economic factors.
It also reinforced the donor agency's concern that a project be "participatory"
to field staff, a must in plantation or soil and moisture conservation projects

that usually tend to over-emphasize physical-achievement targeting.

3.1.6. The Case for Interviewing Apart from Other Team Members

A second group argued for adequate time apart from the rest of the team
and high-profile officials. Only then could they have enough confidence in
their findings to argue strongly for a particular course of action when the
report was being written. They understood the trade-off expressed by the other
group, but felt reliable and comprehensive information-gathering on socio-
economic issues was of more importance. Constraints on working exclusively as a
team were that other team members often short-cut necessary introductory warm-up
questions/dialogue in an interview and made it impossible to get a grip on
subtle social dynamics or areas villagers were reluctant to discuss. Most of
such individuals spent half or more of their field time on their own. One
practice of team leaders to meet both objectives was to hire the team social
scientist and maybe another technician concerned with local conditions for a
longer time period so they could spend a week or two prior to the rest of the
team's arrival in the field sites gathering field information.

Some examples of the kinds of information that such practitioners felt
difficult to collect included: the range of fuel scarcity and use patterns
expressed by men and women in a region, gender-linked attitudes in general,
decision-making criteria for agro-forestry practices in a complex ecological and
market setting, and sensitive issues on which people were apt to stonewall
teams, such as land tenure and common property management. Resettlement
specialists mentioned that high-profile visits tended to reveal a more positive
picture of the new settlers' situation (an Indonesia specialist noted that if
people interviewed said the situation was simply okay rather than wonderful, she
translated that to mean that there were some very serious problems).

3.1.7. What Are Some Possible Courses of Action

RRA approaches work best when the team of field researchers or appraisers
is small (2-6 members). When larger donor agency or host-country planning teams
of 7-14 or more try to apply systematic RRA tools to their work, many logistic
problems arise. For the long-term, development agencies could do well to
reassess their current strategy of deploying large planning teams to the field
en masse. More effective for using RRA tools and approaches would be to deploy
two smaller teams at separate times and producing a single report subsequent to
their visits. With large teams, the productive and structured dynamics of RRA
team interaction during interviewing and problem analysis are simply impossible
to achieve. While this would require a major change in bureaucratic protocol,
it could greatly increase the quality of planning at little additional cost.

The following are some guidelines to follow when teams are too large to
allow for an effective interaction among the team members when they travel in
the field as a single group.

1. Are other vehicles available? if YES can split up team

2. Can the team in general avoid a high profile? if NO must split into at
least two groups, so one is high profile and other is not

3. Is the social scientist needed to elucidate key social issues to team and
project staff in course of field visits? if YES then social scientist
spends more time with team

if NO then social scientist may spend more time apart from team with a
local assistant/translator

4. Are the main questions essentially multi-disciplinary, requiring particular
disciplines to be represented at each interview? -- if YES send divide team
appropriately (forester-social scientist, economist-ecologist, etc.)

3.2 Interview and Question-Design Techniques for Individual. Household, and Key
Informant Interviews

All RRA applications make use of individual, household and key informant
interviews to gather information about the local situation. Some general
principles of the toolkit are ways to reduce bias in the questioning process.
Rhoades (1982) on the "Art of the Informal Survey" is a good guideline along
with Warwick (1976) The Sample Survey: Theory and Practice. Acquiring expertise
in sensitive and non-biased interviewing is a slow process requiring
considerable training and long-term field experience. Khon Kaen practitioners
advocate developing this capability by constructing RRA teams that always
include only a minute proportion of untrained or semi-trained members on the
premise that other team members can in this way devote adequate time to their
training in the course of the RRA. Humility is the key. The good, seasoned
interviewers are humble when evaluating the effectiveness of their own
techniques. When one technique proves biased, they substitute another.

Box no. 5 Probing is a Key Element of
RRA Interview Methods

Situation: In Africa, one team found it difficult to assess the
reliability of answers from men and women to the question of whether
food supplies were adequate year round. Men and women consistently
replied they were, until other methods of inquiry were employed. One
team member went to a granary and asked the women if it always had
enough stored grain to feed the household. "Not all year round," was
the answer. "How often is it inadequate?" they asked. "During what
months?" From a step-by-step process emerged a very different
picture, one of periods of acute scarcity as well as periods in which
women consumed less than men of the household.

3.2.1. Common Tools for Interviewing Individuals or Households

Interview techniques are a core element of the toolkit. Since there are
a host of applicable techniques described in conventional and RRA literature
such as those listed in 3.2 and 3.2.5. following, I have not devoted much space
to this topic here. A few of the more central tools for proper interviewing are
listed below:

- avoiding questions that are phrased so as to lead the respondent to provide a
certain answer (non-leading questioning)

- use of the six helpers (what, where, who, when, how, why) for all topics to
ensure that the interviewer is really understanding the situation and not
drawing conclusions on the basis of partial information

- probing, or not stopping when a respondent replies, but continuing to elicit
more detailed information about that response

- using local names for socio-economic characteristics, bio-physical
characteristics, lands, customs, time intervals and measures

- eliciting the local systems of classifying those things relevant to the
project (trees, types of arable and non-arable land, seasonal variations,
constraints to productivity, forest products) (Indigenous technical knowledge)
as well as understanding these from the researcher's perspective

- collecting detailed information about the history of resource use, for a
particular piece of land or water resource. Individuals can provide information
about specific cases of resource conflict (when a court case was filed about the
encroachment of a wealthy herder on a common property resource, when a local
woman was prosecuted for extracting wood illegally from a public forest, etc.)

3.2.2. Intra-household Perspectives

When interviewing households, rather than individuals, it is important
not to make the assumption that one member of the household can speak for all
the rest. Women will have different knowledge and opinions than men and older
individuals will see things differently from younger individuals. Older
individuals have a different perspective and different set of priorities than
younger married and unmarried members. Children's input into the farming system
of local resource management is often missed, since adults, both men and women,
generally omit this kind of information in interviews. Gaps in the knowledge
base of different household members can be a key to differences in
responsibilities or differences in their perceived interests or needs.

3.2.3. Interviewing Women: A Commonly Ignored Group of Clients

There has been a common assumption in RRA manuals that women are
necessary members of teams to elicit information and opinions from women in
field visits and interviews. While adding a woman's perspective to a field
exercise and offering her often greater knowledge of women and development
issues is important, such a rule should not provide an excuse for male team

members to avoid talking to or eliciting information about women. A seasoned
FSR practitioner with strong expertise in women and development was very adamant
in an interview carried out as a part of this review on the point that men can
gather exceptional amounts of information from and about women if they make an
effort to do so. One of this practitioner's self-assigned roles in RRA
exercises was to encourage male team members -- both researchers and local
extension agents -- to collect information about women and not leave this task
to her. This and a growing number of other female practitioners are concluding
that even in highly segregated societies, information on land-use patterns and
resource management issues can be acquired from and about women by male
researchers and male extension agents, if they are given the confidence and
sensitivity to do so.

There are certain interview
practices that work much better with Box no. 6 Evaluating Gains and
women than men. In general, women Losses to Women
are more familiar with local,
cultural categories, time intervals, Situation: A team evaluating a participatory
size classes, and measurements than rural development program sought to tally the
gains and losses to women. One positive
are men. An Africanist cites an component was a biogas program. One aspect of
instance in which lands had begun to the program which staff had not reflected upon
be measured in hectares rather than was the impact on women's time. Two problems
in acres. Less educated men and most emerged: a) during the dry season, when animals
are not stall-fed, women spent time collecting
women did not "convert" their land dung from grazing lands to feed the plant; and b)
size when this change occurred, but while the project promotes use of fresh slurry in
for a given size farm land began to the fields from the plant, this slurry is heavy
tell interviewers that they had 2 and requires men with carts to transport it to
the fields. Instead, men allow the slurry to dry
hectares rather than 2 acres, even and delegate the transport work to women with
though the plot had not changed size. baskets in line with traditional work divisions.
Women are less used to formal And poor women have lost a source of fuel-buying
interviews, and questions must be customers among the houses with biogas plants.
phrased in a straightforward manner (Source: Aga Khan Foundation Evaluation in
that does not assume the respondent Gujarat, 1988.)
is clear as to why the question is
being asked or what the researcher
means to find out.

When properly interviewed, however, women may have very detailed
information about harvest quantities, processing values, storage losses,
consumption patterns, etc. The interviewer must know how to collect such
information. A classic example from African experience is the great
underestimation of root crop production, because these crops are harvested as
needed from garden plots, rather than harvested all at once (Hill, 1986).
Questions must creatively elicit estimates of total production from consumption
patterns, rather than relying upon "guesstimates" of total harvesting.

Women also tend to know a very different set of information than do men
about resource availability, resource use, and resource processing.
Interviewing women about a particular village resource or farming system will
invariably elicit a different and sometimes conflicting set of information about
use and optimal management practices. Women may benefit very differently from
an activity than do men, and therefore have a different opinion about the value

of particular interventions. The need
to appraise women as well as men is Box no. 7 Interviewing Women
part of a general rule of effective
RRA. The team should be careful to One male interviewer who works often on community
find out who is engaged in what forestry has found that he can much more easiLy
activity or sector and interview that interview women in Asia by starting with
questions about their stoves and cooking habits.
person rather than whoever happens to This leads him into their kitchens where they
be easiest to interview. Information feel at home and in command, and in this setting
can be as easily biased by trying to they are forthcoming in expressing opinions,
interview a landlord about the work attitudes and fet needs about a whole range of
forestry and Local economic issues.
done by his or her employee, or a
farmer about the constraints faced by
a herder, as by interviewing men about
the values held by a woman.

In terms of resource management, women may have strategies that are not
commonly understood or of interest to men in the same village. Women may have
fuel-harvesting techniques designed to maximize forest regrowth, or they may
meet informally to decide on forest protection techniques that are not discussed
in detail with men, since they do not regularly harvest forest products from
that resource. Women may also have very different suggestions about project
activity plans than will the men of the same locality.

3.2.4. Key Informant Interviews

Key informants are a major source of information for those conducting in-
depth research or for those interviewing under time constraints as is the case
with RRA applications. Key informants, simply defined, are individuals with a
special knowledge of the topic of interest (respected leaders, irrigation system
maintenance personnel, chairperson of the forest committee, etc.). RRA manuals
pay particular attention to describing how and when to interview key informants
and how to combine such interviews with other information. There are a number
of manuals for RRA methods that provide insights into interviewing such
individuals and about how to weigh their answers. One excellent book on this
topic is Eliot J. Feldman's A Practical Guide to the Conduct of Field Research
in the Social Sciences (Westview Press, Boulder, Colorado, 1981). One issue for
use of key informants is that a particular respondent can serve both as a key
informant and as an individual interviewee at different points in a single
interview. A village headman can be a key informant at one moment, when
advising a team on village-wide patterns of land use, and be an interviewee in
the next, when describing his personal land-use practices to the team. Team
members must be able to keep these roles separate when taking notes about what
this individual says and when evaluating the information acquired.

3.2.5. Special Techniques to Reduce Bias

There are a large number of documents regarding proper ways to conduct an
interview. These include Warwick (1976), Rhoades (1982), Chambers (1985), Khon
Kaen (1987), and Odell, Odell and Franzel (1986). These include providing the
proper warm-up to an interview, ordering questions in an open-ended and
unthreatening way, interviewing on-site without unduly disrupting the
individual's work (many farmers will appreciate the interviewer's offer of help

with an on-going task before breaking off from work to answer questions),
interviewing individuals in a comfortable setting (women generally speak more
freely in their kitchen than outside the house), and phrasing questions in a way
that is easily understood by people interviewed.

One practitioner recommends adding a last question to the interview
schedule which is, "Are there any questions that you would like to ask us?"
This allows the interviewer to get information that might have been missed, puts
the respondents) more at ease since the interview is not totally one-sided, and
also provides a cross-check on whether the respondent and interviewer understood
what each was getting at. If the question is out of the blue, there is a good
chance that the respondent didn't really understand what the interview was about
and the interviewer is unlikely to have elicited an accurate picture of the
respondent's behavior or attitudes.

The interactive tools (ranking games, sketch map-making, discussion
charts) that will be discussed in a separate section are other tools to reduce
bias and ensure that researcher and respondent understand what each is saying.
Rational selection of interviewees and sampling methods are another way to
reduce bias.

3.2.6. Use of Interpreters/Translaters

Opinions differ on the best way to use interpreters/translators during
RRA. Nearly all practitioners agree that being able to converse directly with
interviewees is a decided advantage of using interpreters or translators, and
that promoting RRA skills in local institutions should be a high priority.
Nevertheless, there are many occasions when RRA work must be done when RRA
practitioners lack native language competence. Nearly everyone agrees that,
whenever possible, native language speakers should also be included in the team
and that this will be of great help. However, during interviews themselves,
using a fellow team member as a translator can be problematical. Each team
member has his own skills and interests, and it is very trying for him or her to
also act as a translator during interviews. At best, statements tend to get
"interpreted" or summarized, rather than translated.

On the other hand, using professional (ideally, simultaneous)
translators, while preferable during interviews, may also be difficult.
Professionals in this field, for the two languages needed at the time, may be
hard to find, and many have had little or no experience working in rural areas,
much less in the kind of highly sensitive modes necessary for translation work
during RRA. There are many practical hints that can be used to help: control
your translator"; have the translator sit behind you, and slightly to the side;
maintain direct contact with the interviewee yourself, talk directly to him, not
to the interpreter, pay attention to him when he responds, even though you do
not understand what he is saying, etc. Perhaps most important, practitioners
emphasize the necessity of taking the time to make sure you understand exactly
what was said and what it means, and that the interviewee understands what your
mean. Interviewing with translators is, of necessity, an even slower, more
difficult and more sensitive process than would otherwise be the case during RRA

3.3. Techniques of Group Interviewing

3.3.1. Overview

Group interviewing is an important element of the RRA toolkit because of
a) its usefulness in collecting information from a wide range of individuals
relatively quickly, b) its usefulness in generating discussion of relevant
problems, issues, and optional solutions, and c) its usefulness in the process
of village-level planning of activities. Written information about group
interviewing techniques focuses much more often on the first two objectives than
on the third. In addition, group interviewing is often unavoidable, since
household interviews often become group interviews when passersby flock to see
the team at work and must ultimately be included in the interview. Manuals also
include techniques for discouraging new arrivals on the scene of the interview
from dominating the discussion and for capitalizing on their presence by
changing the nature of the interview.

There are a number of excellent guidelines on group interviewing apart
from the guidelines mentioned in Box 4. These include Kumar (1987), Shaner,
Philipp and Schmehl (1982), Chambers (1985), Khon Kaen (1987), and McCracken,
Pretty and Conway (1988). Honadle (1982) and Hendricks (1987) include useful
charts outlining the trade-offs between different types of group interview

Like individual interviews, group interviews are a tricky proposition.
Gow (1987) makes the important observation that community interviews can often
provide a team with a distorted picture of the local situation because local
leaders dominate the discussion, because respondents discuss an 'ideal reality'
rather than actual practices, because respondents may take control of topics out
of the hands of the moderator, and because interviews with large teams often
degenerate into a chance for respondents to air grievances and petitions. Kumar
(1987) suggests some strategies for circumventing these problems --

1) carefully worded, leading questions to circumvent avoidance of real issues3;
2) interviewing a group of village leaders beforehand and introducing the
meeting with their remarks to encourage others to speak;

3) sub-dividing the group into smaller, more homogenous, working groups;

4) varying topics to spark the interest of a wider group; and

5) using humor when pointing out the limited participation of certain subgroups.

A practitioner drawing upon his work in Africa suggests that group
discussions can more fruitfully lead to village consensus about their desired
course of action if the research team discusses issues of importance informally
with a traditionally-respected community leader and then allows that leader to

3 Notice that in this instance, leading questions are an artful solution
to a particular problem. The interviewer in this case is consciously leading
the discussion in a direction that respondents are likely to avoid otherwise.

generate the discussion, thereby gaining the confidence of the group of
villagers present that this topic deserves their interest and attention. In
discussions of the optimal ways to achieve effective common property resource
management over a particular piece of communal land, for instance, villagers are
more likely to seriously consider new options and provide a research team with
an honest opinion if the discussion is initiated by a local person who commands
their respect on this topic, than if the team members present hypothetical
options from their outside view of the situation.

Box no. 8 A High-Proflle Visit May ELicit Only What the Villagers
Want the Team to Hear

Situation: A team visiting the site of an irrigation canal project were told by elite,
small holders, women, and rural poor villagers that the proposed canal would not be adequate
as designed by the engineers to water the command area and that an additional channel was
needed above the proposed canal, to supply sufficient water to the system. Subsequent
investigation showed that the village was united in presenting this view to the team, simply
because they wanted the additional channel to irrigate another area outside the proposed
command area and knew the government would never agree to build it unless government staff
were convinced that the proposed canal would not be adequate without that additional channel.
Man, woman, and child were prepared to stonewall visiting teams with that viewpoint, so that
the additional channel would be approved.

There is often an assumption that host-country team members and local
project staff will be able to generate a balanced, useful discussion with local
groups of people. While it may be the case that local professionals will better
understand local attitudes and conditions and thereby generate a more honest and
relevant discussion, this is not an absolute if the individuals are not skilled
in interviewing and use of the toolkit. Host-country team members often have as
many -- though different -- pre-conceptions about "what the villagers think or
do" as the outsider. Or they may have a very clear understanding about a
certain group or class within the village, but fail to recognize the diversity
of families' situations. Host-country team members must be careful to filter
their own assumptions when choosing questions, phrasing questions, or leading a

3.3.2. When Are Group Interviews Used

Group interviews can be useful in the following situations to provide
complementary data to that available in individual interviews.

1) TO find out village-wide information, or to define an initial range of
situations that can be refined in household or individual interviews (such as,
how many cattle people own, whether grazing areas are adequate, what is the
effect of time spent in gathering fuelwood on the overall workload of a typical
farm household, where people go for outside employment and how prevalent this
source of income is for different types of households);

2) WHEN smaller, homogenous groups of people are assembled for a specific
purpose when the team enters the village -- women, landless, smallholders,
irrigated-land owners -- group interviews generate in-depth information about
differing perspectives of different types of villagers);

3) TO gain information from a group of 'professionals' who are less likely to be
as frank as individuals about their problems -- government extension workers,
local medical personnel, local foresters -- to identify the range of their views
on a subject;

4) WHEN information from individual interviews does not make sense -- groups may
clarify the information and explain it more comprehensively in light of
additional information or they may react emotionally to the information, thereby
revealing a key issue needing further discussion; or

5) TO elicit information about local knowledge categories, so that questions
asked in an individual or household setting will be more fruitful (techniques
promoted in the toolkit for this objective are the ranking games, such as those
described by Chambers in Box 14 of this report, or questioning that uncovers how
local people make decisions about collecting or harvesting specific products,
such as that used by Eric Rustin [Research in Progress], in his research on fuel
and fodder in the Nepalese agroforestry system).

3.3.3. Focus-Group Interviews

A specialized group interview technique that is becoming more popular for
natural resource management-related surveys is the focus-group interview.
Focus-group interviews are adapted from social marketing methods in private
industry and involve interviewing relatively homogenous groups of local people
or government extension agents, such as women seeking medical care, smallholders
growing fodder trees, or forest

r I

Box no. 9 Don't Believe What
You Hear Until You Investigate

Situation: A team evaluating the progress
of an Indian state social forestry project
visited a community woodlot which had
recently been harvested by local people
under the guidance of the local elected
officials, the penchayat. The leaders of
the community told the team that they had
divided the produce equally among the
villagers, and showed them a document with
the signatures or thumbprints of those who
received wood. One skeptical team member
spoke to some poor villagers present and
asked if they had thumbprints on the list.
They did, but upon questioning them, it
emerged that they and a number of other poor
villagers present had never received any
produce at all.

Box no. 10 Focus Group

Focus group interviews can be very useful tools
for eliciting opinions about difficulties that
extension workers face in providing extension
support to local villagers. Bringing together
village-level workers apart from senior
supervisors creates a climate for open discussion
of key issues. In India, such interviews with
lower-level foresters revealed a number of
constraints for encouraging community
participation in plantation establishment,
including the fact that lands allocated by
village leaders for tree planting are often given
because they have been illegally encroached upon
by influential people and Leaders hope the
foresters will use their authority to have these
people evicted. No training has been provided to
foresters to help them find solutions to such
problems in the field.

guards. This technique is appropriate when smaller, homogenous groups of people
are naturally assembled during the field visits -- all women, all landless, all
smallholders, all irrigated-land owners -- to gain in-depth information about
particular issues. It is also used to get a consensus of opinions from a group
of 'professionals' -- local foresters, local medical extension personnel; etc.

Questions in these interviews are highly focused on a few, key issues.
It is generally not useful to have such interviews at a very exploratory stage,
before the team understands the general parameters of the problem. It is useful
to evaluate the range of circumstances of the group and to provide a setting in
which individuals are comfortable about giving their honest feelings or

3.4. Selection of Interviewees and Sampling Techniques

3.4.1. Overview

One of the most critical and most controversial areas in sound use of the
RRA toolkit is selection of respondents and sampling. There is a wide range of
opinion on this subject -- some practitioners try for an intentional selection
process (purposive sampling is one name for this), interviewing people and
groups of different classes, ethnicity, age, gender, resource base, and adding
new respondents to round out the gaps in information that are emerging. Other
practitioners find this process unacceptably biased and either combine this
method with some random sampling or make more conscious choices based on formal
sampling principles.

There have been studies comparing the findings of informal and formal,
statistical surveys in a particular geographic location for a particular topic
(Franzel [1987], Ngamsomsuke, et al [1987]). There appears to be a strong lack
of consensus as to whether these studies have more general application.

3.4.2. Possible Uses of Formal Sampling Theory in RRA

The key controversy is not whether the purpose of RRA is to formally
sample the population -- a clearly impossible task -- but whether some kind of
application of formal, sampling principles in the context of an RRA exercise is
a useful means of correcting bias. The proponents of this stance do not feel
that all interviews should be selected in this way, but feel this should be the
manner of selecting some of the people. The practitioners with this viewpoint
feel strongly that even when teams work hard to reduce bias (following some of

Carruthers and Chambers' [1981] pointers)4, they will fail unless they include

4/ These include, for example, getting off the main road, not interviewing
only elites, travelling in the wet season as well as the dry season,
interviewing males and females, old and young, and complementing the project

some interviewing with a more formal method of respondent selection. They find
it especially important that individuals who are not well-seasoned field
interviewers not try to generate a balanced, purposive sample.

Some practitioners argue for more follow-on of RRA exercises with small,
formal surveys to substantiate or undercut conclusions emerging from the RRA.
One practitioner at the World Bank has developed a computer package for such
surveys carried out as part of project monitoring and evaluation for use by the
non-statistician. It assumes that the users will have partial information about
the question for which study is needed. The sample size will be determined by
what is already known on the question and therefore the size of the sample will
be generally much smaller (yet equally accurate and less costly) than that
usually devised for a large-scale, formal survey. (See Annex 2 for a
description of this program.)

Box no. 11 Sampling Techniques

Sources of
Low Confidence

Small Size of Sample

of Minorities

Biased Selection

Lack of Statistical

Single Context SampLing

Biasing Context

Purposive Distortion

Lack of Intelligibility


Small Complementary Survey


Striving for Randomization

Null Hypothesis Caution

Cross-checking by Multi-method

Creative State Management

Skill & Experience

Skill & Experience

(Source: Campbell, J.G., from a workshop presentation on
RRA methods, World Bank, Washington, D.C., December 1988.)

3.4.3. Application of Formal Sampling Theory in the RRA Toolkit

What can realistically be adapted from formal sampling theory in

staff's choice of interview villages with others.

(BIA 1

selecting people to talk with during RRA-style field visits? What formal
sampling achieves in statistical surveys is to reduce the chances that
investigators will pick a certain set of individuals over another, thereby
coming out of the field with a skewed impression of the local situation or
problem. A well-selected statistical sample will have what is known as low,
random sampling error. Any survey, however statistical, has a chance of other
sources of bias (skewed results), which are lumped together in survey
terminology as non-sampling errors. One criticism that is often levied against
formal surveys is that, while the random sampling errors are very small, the
non-sampling errors resulting from poor wording of the questions, poor choice of
question order, lack of sufficient attention to the context in which the
question is asked, and poor choice of a time of day to hold the interview, can
be much more damaging than sampling errors. The sample for the survey may be
picture-perfect, but the data that results from the survey erroneous and

In-depth and open-ended interviews attempt to reduce the non-sampling
errors by paying close attention to putting the person at ease, asking questions
in a number of different ways to reduce the chance that the question was
misunderstood, eliciting longer answers from the person to ensure the researcher
understands what is being said, and a host of other such techniques. However
good the interview, it remains difficult to be sure whether the interviewee or
household is typical, unusual, unique, or expresses a universal condition
without an adequate sampling of the rest of the population. In a situation in
which RRA tools are being used, there is seldom time to search out individuals
selected through a complete, random sample or to code and analyze the
information collected. Use of key informants who have good village-wide
knowledge is one check on the representativeness of individual interviews
carried out. It is possible, however, to in addition to interviewing key
informants, apply some of the principles underlying random sample selection to
help reduce the biases from a completely purposive sample.

One such principle is stratification. In RRA, this is considered a form
of triangulation (cross-checking). This is a technique used in constructing a
formal sample that ensures that certain groups in the population are included,
despite the limited size of the sample. A stratified sample is constructed by
dividing the population into the groups of importance. One can either take a
percentage of the sample from those groups in proportion to their representation
in the population -- i.e., 50% women because men and women are more or less
equally present in the population, or 20% landless if 20% of rural dwellers are
known to be landless. Or, the sample can take equal numbers of each strata --
30 poor, 30 landless, 30 wealthy farmers, 30 smallholder farmers. This sample
principle can guide informal, purposive sampling as well, to ensure certain
groups are adequately included.

Box no. 12 Proving the Null Hypothesis

While quick turn-around surveys like RRA do not give the interviewers a
chance to talk to enough people throughout the population to draw firm
conclusions about hypotheses, there are ways to add more validity to the data
collected. One way is proving the null hypothesis. All statistical analysis
is based on the use of mathematical tests that establish whether a particular
correlation of patterns means something or whether it occurred by chance
sampLing of unusual individuals. If a survey of 80 households finds that 70%
of the trees planted had a survival rate of 80%, the mathematical tests serve
to show that it is highly unlikely that this survival rate would be measured
in the sample population unless it was representative of a general pattern in
the population as a whole. If the sample population had 70% survival of
trees, says the statistician, it is most Likely that the rest of the
population did as well. These tests disconfirm the null hypothesis, which
argues that the sample is not representative, but a skewed subset of the

One application of this principle to quick surveys that do not use
random sampling is, instead of sampling the population to prove a 70%
survival rate is prevalent in-]t


The following chart summarizes some of these options.


Problem Possible Solutions

1. How to ensure that the views of
less visible target groups are not
under-represented in interviews

2. How to combat the common problem
that more remote agroecological zones
are poorly represented in RRA field

3. How to include some random
sampling that is not too time
consuming to compose a sample and
find people in a limited time period
to generate information that is
convincing to planners who require
more statistical or quantitative
evidence of a team's findings

o Stratify the sample of interviews
that will be carried out during
field visits to include specific
proportions of various groups
(resource-rich/resource-poor, men
and women, old/young,
landless/landed, different ethnic

o Pre-select sites that include these
zones when the team plans their

o Use the Null Hypothesis (interview
a limited number [4-8] of
individuals to disprove rather than
prove something which has been a
working assumption or finding of
earlier monitoring surveys (i.e.,
survival of homestead plants has
been found to be lower than
survival of plants people put on
field boundaries in project formal
reporting). If most of your
"sample" does not conform to the
rule, you can be sure your working
hypothesis is questionable, since
the statistical likelihood of
encountering so many exceptions to
the rule is very low.

o a. Use the quick and dirty sampling
program developed by Ronald Ng,
(See Annex 2) to obtain a sample
for a complementary, sample survey
to the RRA itself.

o b. Use existing lists to draw a
quick sample (health registers,
nursery registers, voting lists)
with a random numbers table in the

o c. Interview a small sub-sample
from a previous, formal survey
sample (such as one conducted by
the M&E unit of the project earlier
on, or from a baseline survey).

4. What to do to test hypotheses
that are only formulated halfway
through the RRA exercise

o Try a random sample
the field visits to
hypotheses. Plan a
and make the RRA an

halfway through
test emerging
second visit

5. What to do when households are
reluctant to give accurate
information on sensitive issues

o Combine individual interviews with:
o group interviews
o participant observation
o direct measurement
o secondary data review
o unstructured, casual
o ranking or planning games
o key informants
o change households

There are two points that are relevant in deciding whether or not some
randomizing adds to the validity of the information collected. First, random
sampling gains the researcher nothing if the interviews of people selected
through that random process are poorly conducted. Second, however much use of
RRA techniques may be seen as cost-effective, it still costs time and money. It
may be worth more in terms of scarce resources to introduce a little more rigor
into an RRA-style exercise and make it a slightly longer process, than to have
to come back to the field with the same range of team members to collect the
same sort of information later on. This is an issue that will no doubt receive
more attention by those project staff adapting RRA more extensively to forestry
and natural resource management programs in different project stages.

3.4.4. Reasons That Teams Using RRA Tools May Not Use Formal Sampling

Two opinions as to why sampling might not be appropriate which were
expressed in the course of this review are as follows:

1) Formal sampling has no place in an RRA, which is a "scan" of the range of
situations in the project area. The objective of an RRA exercise is generally
to find out the scope of a problem or of several issues. The team does best by
keeping their "noses in the wind." There is neither time to carry out formal

sampling, nor is the objective of gathering information about general
issues/hypotheses commensurate with a need for formal sampling.

2) The biggest constraint on formal sampling in an RRA is time. While it could
contribute substantially to validity of information, there just is not time to
devote to constructing a random sample and interviewing those in it.

3.4.5. Alternative Methodologies to Representative Sampling

One set of social scientists who were interviewed focused not on the
trade-offs of random versus purposive/opportunistic sampling, but on the need
for RRA practitioners to become more conscious of the value (and limitations) of
qualitative data collection methods that are traditionally applied in a longer-
time frame, but that can be adapted to the RRA setting. One such methodology is
"situational analysis".

In ethnographic work, situational analysis is used as an alternative to
talking to a range of individuals. Instead, the interviewer tries to gather
information as completely as possible about a single "situation" or a set of
situations of importance to the project (grazing conflict, allocation of common
lands, introducing contour plowing on a farm, irrigation water allocation). The
set of groups and individuals interviewed is dictated by the "situation" rather
than by a methodological decision to interview a selected "range of individual
types" (small/large farmer, upstream/downstream, and so on). What emerges is an
in-depth understanding of a situation that the team sees as a salient pattern in
the project area. Those interviewed represent a range of opinions/views of the
situation, and interviews give the team some key ideas about local decision-
making processes, a key to land-based resource management. Recommendations made
on the basis of such an approach (either alone or in combination with other
methods) are grounded upon in-depth knowledge, but the approach relies upon the
prior training of the interviewer in social and cultural theories of norms and
behaviors, at least those relevant to the geographic area where work is being
carried out.

A corollary to this is the importance of time-based information about
resource use. Conway's Agroecosvstems Analysis (1986) and Raintree's Diagnosis
and Design (1986) analyses both include questions about use of land for trees
and crops over time. In addition to checklists about what crops were grown over
time, however, is the importance of information on the history of conflicts over
land-use and management of these potential or actual conflicts. Villagers
should be asked about changes in the composition of management groups, the
history of their formation, changes in leadership, use of watchmen or people
assigned to maintenance tasks. In conflict history, it is important to
establish how the social or economic role of the individuals involved influenced
the decision. If a woman had grazed her sheep on the land, would there have
been a case or was it because it was a man with a large cattle herd? For
cropping patterns and trees, Conway's approach includes collection of
information for a 10-year period for both crops and prices, a very useful body
of information when evaluating the economics of an intervention from the
farmer's perspective.

Box' no. t3: S tuationat Anatvsis The qualitative approach generally
requires a social scientist on the
Rangetand rights and ue patterns can be team, who has a first-hand
highly comptax and herders are ganerty understanding of qualitative research
reluctant to offer information to outsiders about methodology, so that they can
their herd sizes, movements, or ownership rights. methodolo, so hat they can
This:: akes us of RRA tools highly difficult in correctly evaluate what values and
vil ag~e-evl plmaniror reearch efforts norms underlie a particular person's
reatatd:t this topic. On goodsource of expressed opinion or action. For
information is the history of conflicts over
right. Different parties will provide diffrnt participatory planning applications of
perspectives on event in the conflict and their the RRA toolkit, there may not need to
resolution which can be very helpful in forrting be a social scientist, but local staff
out sets of rules nd responibilitis for should have solid training before
pasture use nd ea. One practftionerundertakingsuchanexerciseontheir
advocated hypothetical question arising fro undertaking such an exercise on their
discussion of actual cas, such as, If a woman own as well a first-hand understanding
had: It hr -cattle loose in this peture rather of the communities with which they
than a man, would the conflict have ben plan to work, not just a common
Sdnational identity.

3.5. Interactive Tools for RRA and Participatory Planning

3.5.1. Overview

As survey exercises have become adapted to the need to collect
information for planning through a more participatory process, which involves
local people both in assembling data and in drawing up project plans for their
community or local area, the tools have changed. An exciting development is the
proliferation of interactive data-gathering and planning tools. These include:
ranking games, problem-solving games, sketches of village resource-use patterns,
participatory environmental assessments, transect overlays, seasonal labor
calendars, and preparation of village plans by local villagers (planning games).

These tools provide checklists of information that remains to be
collected about the problems, issues, and local situation and provide a forum
conducive for interactive appraisal of land-use patterns, problem analysis, and
for local participation in the planning process.

3.5.2. Ranking Games

These have been developed by a number of RRA proponents to elicit local
knowledge about plants, trees, cropping systems, grasses, and to learn how local
farmers make cropping or planting decisions or allocate household resources.
The boxed pages following provide a detailed description of the ranking game as
prepared by Robert Chambers at IDS, Sussex. This has been used to elicit a
local set of wealth criteria or indicators developed in a paper by Barbara

Local criteria can be considerably different from those of the
researcher. A recently completed, long-term study of agro-forestry practices in

the middle hills of Nepal took a dramatic turn when one informant being asked to
rank fodders mentioned a categorization model that earlier informants had failed
to mention in the same ranking exercise. This informant, a woman farmer, told
researchers that fodders were selected by their position in a wet-dry continuum.
Animals were healthy when fed a proper mix of wet and dry fodders. Species
might be inherently wet or dry, but more often, species became wet or dry in
different seasons. When this categorization was discussed with other farmers by
the researcher, it became apparent that it was commonly used and understood
(Eric Rustin, Research in Progress). One cautionary note that emerges from this
example is that ranking exercises may not elicit the same depth of information
from one informant or set of informants as another, so in a limited-time frame
of research (RRA-style), some very important categories may be missed. Also,
ranking games are quite time-consuming.

More attention is needed to this issue in future development of this
interactive tool. Can ranking be done with a group of people or only with an
individual? How representative is an individual's response to the cultural
categories of the rest of that person's social group? How much is imposed on
the informant in the ranking game, particularly when this involves listing of
priorities? How does this differ from more complex game theory-based exercises
to assess farmers' probable responses to risk of different kinds?


Box no. 14 A Ranking Exercise to Elicit Farmer Criteria for
Decisi on-Makin
(Condensed from Robert Chambers, IDS)

Ranking by rural women or men can take many forms. Barbara Grandin's wealth ranking method
for enabling rural people to stratify their own community is one example, using the sorting of
cards, each of which represents a household, by respondents who place them in piles of similar
wealth. Another is Gordon Conuay's method which starts by identifying entities of importance
to people (e.g., vegetables, trees), writing the names on cards, asking a respondent which
she/he would prefer in a forced-choice scenario, and then asking why the choice was made.

In our ranking exercises, we relied on groups, not Individuals, which has several advantages:
1) a wider range of experience is brought to beer, 2) responses tend to be quicker, 3) if one
person gets tired, others may take over, 4) more criteria may be identified, and more quickly,
and 5) arguments which develop can be revealing and can identify issues for further


1. Choice of group: a homogenous group (e.g., all men, or all women) may be easiest.

2. Choice of type of ite:. The item can be chosen by the outsiders) or by the group, but it
should be important to the group and familiar to them.

3. Choice of individual items: Ask which items (e.g., which varieties, species of tree,
vegetables) are important and familiar and list these. With respondents, choose between 3 and

4. Eliciting criteria: For each items, ask, "uhat is good about it?" -- and continue asking
until there are no more replies; then ask, "What is bad about it?" and similarly continue to

5. Listing criteria: This can be the trickiest stage, for two reasons:

-- all criteria have to be expressed positively (or negatively) -- e.g., "easily damaged
by flooding" becomes "not easily damaged by flooding."

similar criteria have to be merged, This can be more difficult. An example with
vegetable ranking: one positive criterion was high off-season prices if farmers could
produce and sett at that time. However, more generally the group valued stable
prices, so that was taken as the criterion. So far, merging has been done by the
interviewers alone.

6. The ranking: Draw a matrix, with the items across the top, and the criteria down the
side. The sequence of items and of criteria may not matter much, except that it may be best
to start with easy criteria so that the group can get the idea easily. Questioning does not
have to follow the sequences in which criteria are written down.

For the first criterion, ask which Item is best. If there are 5 or 6 items, it can help to
shift at once to the other end and ask which is the worst. This narrows the remaining ranking
more manageably to those left in the middle. Alternatively, the sequence can be best, next
best, worst, next worst.

Write 1 for good, and 4, 5 or 6, etc., for bad, or vice versa. Continue through all the
criteria. A final good question can be: "If you could only have one of these, which would
you choose first?" The results can be surprising.

7. Weighting: The next possible stage is to explore relative weightings, but this might make
the whole procedure unwieldy.

8. Further probing: The group may well be tired at this stage, but further probing may be
very useful, either: 1) with key informants who have shown up in the meeting; or 2) in a
further meeting; or 3) inspecting the items physically to help focus the discussion.

Further Suggestions

-- Find out the most convenient time and place for the group.

-- Do the same exercise with different groups (e.g., men, women; farmers with irrigation,
farmers without; farmers, landless laborers; etc.).

-- Have one person conducting the exercise while another takes notes of key points,
issues for further investigation, and key people.

Identify who is to take part or has taken part, and their relevant details (e.g.,
Landholding). For reasons of informality, this may sometimes best be done at the end
of the exercise.

(Source: Robert Chambers, "Notes of the RRA Workshop at IDS," Institute of Development
Studies, University of Sussex, Brighton, Great Britain, May, 1988.)

3.5.3. Tools to Generate Discussion of Resource Management Issues

There are several tools that have been developed to generate
participatory discussion of resource management issues and to help villagers
devise plans for addressing those issues, using resources available through
projects as well as their own time, labor, and capital. One is carrying out an
environmental assessment with local villagers to understand how they view their
environmental problems and to exchange information between specialists and local
people about possible ways to resolve perceived problems. A second is the use
of planning games, in which villagers are presented with specific, relevant
problems and interact in a structured format with a team of outsiders to try to
resolve those problems. Both of these tools have the advantage of being
entertainment as well as work, and of providing a non-threatening setting in
which to discuss difficult problems. When a heterogeneous group of villagers is
present, the less outspoken of those villagers begin to express their opinions
in the course of the "games". When villagers take conscious "roles" during
these games or exercises, it provides a window for the outsider into many
aspects of the problems that villagers fail to discuss in a formal meeting or
household interview.

These exercises may be a solid first step in development of a village
plan of action. Rather than the researchers collecting a quantity of
information, sifting through it away from the village, and returning with a
proposed plan of action, the villagers should be present at all stages of the
operation. One cautionary note on the use of these tools is the need to ensure
that less visible groups are also participants, such as landless and women.
They will have quite different needs and perspectives, that may add a very
different set of constraints on generating a viable plan of action.

3.5.4. Eliciting Local Categories for Action Planning

One innovation being experimentally introduced in the joint program
between World Resources Institute (Center for International Development and
Environment, 1987) and Clark University, From the Ground Up, is to try to move
away from pre-set
criteria for
sustainability (such Box no. 15 Buhi Watershed Workshop
as those categories
as those categories A USAID-funded project in the Philippines made very effective use of the
developed for agro- problem-solving agroecosystems analysis approach for planning a solution
ecosystems analysis: to a conflict over development around a Lake and the use of the take as a
sustainability, fishing ground. A planning workshop with administrators, technical
productivity, experts, and resource users from the watershed analyzed the situation in-
pi depth on the basis of available information and agroecosystems principles
stability, and of sustainability. What resulted were several practical provisional
equity) to elicit solutions and support for research on key issues from administrators who
categories from the would otherwise not have assigned such priority to this initiative.
community members
(Source: Gordon Conway, Percy Sajise and William Knowland, "Lake Buhi:
themselves against Resolving Conflicts in a Philippine Development Project," AMBlO 8(2),
which to design a 1989.)
viable, village
action plan. One

issue that arises is whether these concepts are in fact defined as the villagers
of different cultures understand them, or whether their own concept of
sustainability is quite different from that of the researchers. Local choices
of terms may lead to action plans that combine different strategies than action
plans based on pre-defined criteria. This is an issue deserving more attention
as more adaptations of agroecosystems analysis are developed in different parts
of the world.

3.5.5. Seasonal Labor and Other Seasonal Calendars

One visual tool that seems to work well for interactive discussions with
non-literate villagers is a graph of the seasonality of labor demands and
activities. One practitioner has made extensive use of seasonality graphs of
labor allocation to different farming, animal husbandry, food processing, wage
employment, and fuel and fodder collection activities. When such graphs are
drawn on the ground or on paper and discussed with different groups of
villagers, a surprisingly detailed amount of information emerges about the labor
demands of different activities and differences in the labor demands on
different household members in varying seasons. Women in Indian villages, for
instance, have been outspoken when presented with such graphs in explaining the
differences in the demands placed on their labor compared to men's in tree
planting seasons.

This tool must be used sensibly,
Box no. 16 Malian Women's without placing too much faith in the
Perception of Time Burdens quantitative results, but it can be a
useful cross-check to labor estimates
Dolores Koenig (1987) has found that Malian emerging in informal interviews. One
women in some villages have responded poorly ever-present danger in RRA exercises is
to cookstove programs because they have tendency to ask quantitative
different perceptions of the fuel collection o as quantitative
burden than do planners. For such women, food information without adequate cross-
preparation time -- cooking and processing -- checks or without asking for information
is so much more burdensome than fuel in small enough time intervals to get a
collection, they prefer a stove that saves logical answer. An example of this is
cooking time, not fuel.
fuel and fodder collection time spent by
village women. There is a tendency to
ask women about their collection time as
a weekly average or a daily average, when the year's collection pattern is
really very complex, depending on product availability and other demands on
their time. As a result of researchers' tendencies to aggregate information
about the long distances women travel to collect fuel and fodder into an annual
sum that has little basis in women's complex collection patterns, there are data
used extensively in project planning that greatly over-estimate women's time
allocation to these activities. Thus while detailed time-allocation studies
seldom attribute more than 20% of a woman's work time to fuel, fodder, and water
collection, project documents may assume 40% or more of their time is spent this
way. Logically, this is an impossible conclusion for the majority of
developing-country women, who are productively engaged in many other activities,
including farming. Such interactive tools provide some cross-check to what
researchers are gathering in group or individual interviews.

Sample Diagrams from RRA's in India, Ethiopia, and Indonesia

To A OPd







Sketch map of a Peasant Association in Wollo, Ethiopia
(Ethiopian Red Cross Society, 1988)

(Source: McCracken, Jennifer A., Jules N. Pretty, and Gordon Conway,
An Introduction to Rapid Rural Appraisal for Agricultural Development,
International Institute for Environment and Development, London, 1988,
p. 34.)

Figure 4:


- AO


Figure 4: continued ..
A 3 A SO Mb P F M


wArat Wet


AA~1E6TO__ I I

F0^ ^^^.^
73 s.u



tW' AI*0-o 1D0i04 (CA
cuff WOOO $OM iM/lf L&AG4 LAS

M'3 1AI S I J I A I
J 3 So o o 3 F c~\ A
Complete seasonal calendar of Lathodra

(Source: McCracken, Jennifer A., Participatory Rapid Rural Appraisal
in Gujarat: A Trial Model for the Aga Khan Rural Support Programme
(India), International Institute for Environment and Development,
London, November 1988, p. 34.)

Figure 4: continued ...


194-5 ~urh .VUaaA6

Con RC


~nk CCrleb

~jt~{ For ~ Cori'

l9b li Lca~bPGA7.~, &bate

Transect through time illustrating land use trends in
a village in East Java (Pretty et al., 1988)

.Source: McCracken, Pretty and Conway, p. 41.)

Figure 4: continued ...
Example of a Bar Diagram

L-j es 6Ic.k


C ,A.o.
r" xfru

Ijco nl



(Source: Conway, Gordon R., Rapid Rural Appraisal for Agroecosystem
Analysis; Training Notes for The Aga Khan Rural Support Programme
(Northern Pakistan), Aga Khan Rural Support Programme, Babar Road,
Gilgit, Northern Pakistan, September ]985, p. 31.)



Ok f-&,-

3.5.6. Transects and Sketch Maps

Sketch maps of the village and its resource base are useful tools for
interactive discussions with villagers. Pre-drawn maps of the village
constructed from existing maps can be filled in with villagers to show where
different kinds of resources are and to what extent they are used for a variety
of purposes. One technique developed by Brian Carson (Carson, 1989; and see
article in Khon Kaen, 1987) uses aerial photographs as a basis of discussions
with villagers and then filling in sketch maps on the basis of what the
villagers explain about the information in the aerial photographs. Sketch maps
are a good presentational tool as well, since different types of information can
be collected in a series of sketch maps and then overlaid to demonstrate
different linkages between land uses and land condition.

Transects are good summaries of the types of resource use in a village
site. These show differences in resource use by altitude. The agroecosystems-
approach practitioners have greatly refined this tool and use it as a
planning/presentational device to visually link up types of resource use and
types of development problems with different altitude ranges depicted in the
transects (See example from Poffenberger, Box 17, and McCracken, Pretty and
Conway, 1988). Trends over time can also be juxtaposed vertically in a series
of transect graphs to show major shifts in land-use patterns due to a changing
resource base or new markets and improved road access.

3.5.7. Other Tools for Interactive Planning

A number of individuals working
in the developing countries have Box no. 17 Homegardens in
designed village-level planning Indonesia
approaches. One common tool in these
approaches (Microplanning, Village Properly carried out, an RRA can reveal
Dialogue Approach, Local Negotiations) important differences in the value farmers
is the iterative structure of village place on different aspects of their cropping
system and the value assumed by agricultural
discussions. Such planning should not departments. Researchers in Indonesia who are
be a one-day process, but allow time sensitive to the information from microstudies
both for the villagers to reflect on the regarding the importance of multistoried
questions and issues and to allow time homegardens in upand farming systems have
collected detailed information through
for the project staff or assisting team agroecosystem-style analyses on the nature of
to reflect on what the villagers have homegardens and the productivity and
said. destination of products grown inside of them.
(Source: Poffenberger, ed. Forest and
One sample structure for this Farmers: Management Alternatives in Southeast
process is to have extension agents, Asia. Kumarian Press, Inc., forthcoming.)
villagers, and assisting researchers
engage in a series of group discussions.
First the villagers meet with everyone as a whole for an introductory session.
Then the villagers are divided into separate, homogenous groups (or assembled at
a separate time in this fashion) who discuss the same issues from the
perspective of their own needs and concerns. Then the village as a whole is
reassembled to discuss the issues. At this point, the less outspoken village

members, who have had a separate chance to speak apart from other villagers, are
more willing to air their differences, add perspectives, and share in the
planning process. Several such sessions are needed before the process is

3.5.8. Interactive Planning as a Subset of RRA

A new application of RRA tools is as part of village-level planning.
Projects for land-based natural resource management are increasingly trying to
achieve sustainable interventions by involving local people in the development
of village-level action plans. RRA tools, particularly interactive tools, are
potentially very powerful in such endeavors. Key pitfalls in this application
of RRA are failing to provide adequate training to teams undertaking village-
level planning, conducting superficial planning discussions, not involving
villagers in all stages of planning, raising expectations that government
agencies cannot realistically meet, and failing to ensure that villagers and
other team members really understand one another.

While participatory planning is a different topic than RRA itself, some
of these approaches are worth mention here for readers interested in the
experience with this application of RRA.

Box no. 19 Some Possible Elements to Include in
Participatory Planning Models

a) Should be simple enough to be carried out by local-level
extension staff, and adequate training should be provided for that

b) One central first step is a diagnosis of the environmental
situation that should emerge through a dialogue with the Local

c) That diagnosis should focus not upon people's needs for
environmental resources as much as upon present patterns of
utilization of environmental resources (by all types of people) and
constraints perceived by them in that utilization, including changes
over time.

d) Many approaches include the use of a "group organizer" or
"facilitator" who is from the region, but not of the community
itself. That person is trained to act as a go-between between the
government, the project staff, and the villagers, so that the
villagers understand the perspective of the staff and the government
and can translate their concerns in a way that the staff and
government can understand.

e) Works best when planners are not locked into a limited, preset
menu of technological interventions. The most successful approaches
were ones with a variety of optional interventions, not just tree
planting or irrigation construction. Interventions were phased,
beginning with the villagers' own priorities and only then moving
towards the priorities of the planners, if these were still

f) Good approaches include equal attention to technical and social
science expertise in training and support. Over-emphasis on one or
the other usually leads to a bad intervention.

3.5.9. What Training is Required to Do Interactive Information Gathering or

There is a common pitfall of assuming that, because the objective of
interactive planning is to get people involved at the lowest level, the proper
individuals to guide a planning session are the lowest level extension workers
(forest extension workers, village agricultural extension workers, etc.); and
that, because those workers are often in the local setting, they are more likely
to elicit the needed information. This has led to the development of a number
of non-participatory and non-viable plans in a number of programs.

What is key is the level of training that is provided to the individuals
who are engaged in interactive planning with local villagers. Initially, staff
need a solid orientation in carrying out this exercise and then this training
must be followed by an adequate period of apprenticeship to planning teams that
give trained structured experience in carrying out local negotiations.
Government programs and non-governmental programs usually include training, but
it is usually too short to give the staff the level of understanding they need
of the process, and this training is not followed up by an apprenticeship to
individuals with experience, so that they can learn by doing and learn from
their mistakes in the process.

More training initiatives are going on in developing countries, and
centers of experience are developing. They are still quite limited in number in
relation to the demand and still provide too short a training period and too
little time for gaining guided experience in the field. Planners designing
programs in forestry and natural resource management need to include an
assessment of the training capabilities in the project areas in which they wish
to work, and to include the training needs in the design of a program, so that
there is a capability development adequate to the participatory needs of the

Annex 3 includes some information about the training capabilities of some
of the RRA centers. It does not include the smaller institutions which are of
more recent existence, but tries to give readers some inkling of the training

3.6. Minimum Data Sets and Proxy Indicators

3.6.1. The Value of Minimum Data Sets

Much work is being done both on the generation of minimum data sets and
the generation of minimum indicators as a framework for information gathering in
a number of instances in which RRA tools are used: project design, special
studies, baseline survey design, project monitoring exercises, evaluation, and
village-level planning. These "sets" have been developed in response to a
recognition that RRA fails most often due to the fact that important aspects of
a particular issue are not covered (the importance of labor resources and their

allocation, market access for products, nutritional value of forest products,
etc.). Some of the 'package approaches' such as ICRAF's D&D or different
iterations of the Agroecosystems Analysis models include minimum data sets as a
major part of their toolkit. Agroecosystems analysis, for instance, provides a
framework for collecting information on cropping systems, prices, labor
allocation, productivity over time, institutional linkages and arrangements, and
criteria for measuring stability of a resource management system over time. D&D
provides a checklist of topics related to the social, economic, bio-physical,
and cultural systems at play. Cornell has prepared a checklist of FSR items
that place new emphasis on consumption, diet, and nutritional patterns.

The use of minimum data sets evokes considerable controversy among
practitioners, because a key principle of RRA tool use is that checklists should
be combined with a "nose in the wind" exploratory technique. On the other hand,
well-defined data sets ensure that information irrelevant to the focused
questions being asked is not collected to the detriment of the problems in need
of analysis. For example: farmer income levels are of little interest in a
field exercise to evaluate smallholder interest in private tree planting

a) this is impossible to measure with any accuracy in such a setting,
since farmers either cannot or will not report their income with accuracy in a
limited interview frame and small sample size will limit conclusions;

b) for reasons of (a), the team will estimate project area income
patterns from secondary data sources, not from their own field judgements;

c) this is not a central indicator of tree planting potential, and if it
is, can more accurately be evaluated by proxy indicators of income levels; and

d) the more salient indicator is resource availability (land, labor,
marketability, water, or inputs) which may be linked to income, but is not the

Some excellent minimum data sets have been developed for evaluation
purposes. The Office of Technology Assessment, U.S. Congress (see African
Development Foundation, 1988), has developed a set of indicators for projects in
Africa. Kathy Parker, et al (1988) (see Figure 5) have been working on a set
for evaluation of watershed development projects that combines information on
technological efficiency, institutional appropriateness, productivity, and
levels of local participation. What is creative about her model is that,
rather than ranking project sites on individual categories, the model only ranks
them on the indicators across categories as a whole. In evaluations where this
technique has been applied, the evaluations are quite different than would
otherwise be the case, because this summative ranking compensates for a team's
tendency to place undue emphasis on one category over another (participation
over technical soundness, for example) (Parker, et al, 1988).

Figure 5: Use of a Minimum Data Set to Evaluate Sites in a
Resource Management Project in Nepal






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O 0
0 0
O 0
O 0
o -2

1 1 2
1 2 2

O 0
0 0
O 0
O -1
0 -1

1 1 1 0
1 2 1 0

I -1

-1 0 0

-1 -1 0 -1
-1 -1 0 0
-1 0 0 0
O -I -1 0

N _____________________ .1A __________________

N Note: The :;c.lv. u..c(l r-anges I ron i 3 ( very :;i')i ic'-.nt p io:t I .ii i.t I

li 1 f vory sinif icant neqativ\ Impllict

A seasoned user of the RRA toolkit, John Holtzman, has developed an
excellent conceptual framework for generating a minimum data set for a
particular set of topics or issues. He developed this framework for evaluating
agricultural marketing systems:




a) different
grades, end
b) Degree of
c) Physical
d) Degree/type
of processing.


1) Review
2) Observation
of handling
and process-
3) Develop
periods of
production and


a) Commodity
tics can
operation of
functions are
performed, how
performed, and
relative cost.
b) Nature of
prod. process
timing and
magnitude of
producer sales
and marketed

For an agro-forestry project, one element could be:


Common Property


a)types of
common lands,
and uses by
types of
b)History of
and incidence
of conflicts
over use of


1)Review of
2)Discussions with
3) Review of
reports, documents
on land tenure,
4) Court records.
5)Discussions with
district officers.


a) Use of common
lands is often
deceiving since
rights are not
necessarily equal
for all types of
villagers, seasonal
usage varies
(private land
becomes common
grazing land during
fallow period;
outside herders use
village lands
b)Different inds.
may be treated
differently in their
access to lands --
women vs wealthy
livestock owners,
and have different
access to products
grown on those

Based on such an analysis, the team may decide to focus on common property
management factors, price fluctuations of trees and crops, employment of farmers
in livestock-based enterprises (dairying, renting oxen), outside employment of
household members (and labor constraints), group decision-making situations and
labor arrangements (irrigation management, grazing management, road/trail
repair: voluntary, exchange, cash wage, kind), seasonal labor requirements
(whether people will have time to water, tend trees), gender-based labor inputs
and gender-based income channeling in household, traditional agro-forestry
practices and local knowledge of trees.

Once this has been determined, existing minimum data sets become useful to
ensure that the range of questions will be covered that can be pertinent to key
hypotheses, findings. For example, a Cornell manual on farming systems analysis
(Garrett, 1987) lists the following questions on non-wage labor, which I have
annotated with "reasons for investigating" in light of a possible scenario in
which I want to know if a project that imagines tapping village exchange labor
for constructing contour bunds is realistic:


1. Are there times when a group of
people from the community all work
together? What tasks do they do?

2. Why do people accomplish Task
A,B,C, . with exchange labor?

3. What kind of person organizes or
requests the work party?

4. What kind of rewards do workers

5. How do people feel about being
called to a work party?

1. Is there a limited range of
situations in which such labor can
be used (i.e. maybe not considered
appropriate for your purposes)?

2. Is this task labor-intensive?
Done at a labor-scarce time of year?

3. Must you be influential to
organize group? Are groups any
villagers or only members of kin or
economic role group?

4. Is it expensive to pay workers?
Could a poor group of villagers
afford it?

5. Is it something dying out or
still considered

The RRA investigator may ask all these questions 5/ of many people or
only a few, depending on the gap in their knowledge of the answers. If there is
good secondary information on this aspect of village life, they may only discuss
this in one village to confirm what that secondary information said. If there
is hardly any information they can base their analysis on, they may ask this for
every village they visit, and to a wide range of individuals to ensure they have
answers for all kinds of tasks for which exchange labor is used and to ensure
that all age groups still use this type of labor and that wage labor has not
replaced it for some tasks among villagers more linked into a market economy.
But the data set ensures the RRA team does not come back with an incomplete
vision of exchange labor groups that leads them to put too much or too little
weight on their appropriateness for project interventions. From a sociological
perspective, it prevents interviewers from wasting valuable time asking a host
of questions about exchange labor that may be interesting for sociological
reasons, but have little bearing on project design. But it equally prevents
non-sociologically trained team members from missing the importance of a
comprehensive interview regarding a key social issue.

5/ NOTE: these guide the questions to be asked but are seldom the actual word-
for word questions put to interviewees.


3.7 Specific RRA Approaches: Packages of RRA Tools

3.7.1. Diagnosis and Design. International Center for Research on

Basic Approach:
Use of a multi-stage set of diagnostic surveys and planning discussions at
village and agency level to analyze problems, and existing knowledge, and
develop an action plan for community and farm forestry.

Key Concepts:
Surveys should elicit information on problems and potentials, functional needs
of the system, what landscape niches are available for supply needs, what
indigenous and exotic species are appropriate in what arrangements, and what
management practices are needed to achieve performance objectives.

This is basically an adaptation of a Farming Systems Research/Extension
methodology to tree planting and integrated agroforestry systems. This has
recently been applied as well to watershed management diagnosis and research
program design. "D&D nests research questions within technology design
questions to keep research relevant to technology generation and technology
generation to rural development" (Raintree and Hoskins, in Regional Wood
Energy Programme, 1988).

Minimum Data Sets, Flow Charts on Socio-Economic Attributes of Trees

ICRAF has two training courses a year in this methodology for African
institutes and researchers.

Numerous documents on basic methodology, case studies using D&D, and detailed
checklists of information that may be pertinent to design.

Write To:
John Raintree, ICRAF House, off Limuru Road, Gigiri, P.O. Box 30677, Nairobi,

3.7.2. Rapid Rural Appraisal Methods at Khon Kaen University. Thailand

Basic Approach:
RRA has been adapted to natural resource management and forestry over a period
of years at the FSR center in Khon Kaen University. RRA techniques are used
to: 1) explore, identify and diagnose rural situations, problems and issues;
2) design, implement, monitor and evaluate programs, projects and development
actions; 3) help develop, extend and transfer technology; 4) assist in policy
formulation and decision-making; 5) respond to emergencies and disasters; and
6) improve, supplement or complement other forms of research.

Key Concepts:
Adequate preparatory phase of data analysis to elaborate research objectives,
and to help guide interviews, interactive research tools, open-ended research
plans, agroecosystems analysis, time/space/logic schematics, dialogue at local
level, iterative learning, indigenous categories of knowledge and resources.

Have generated many study examples in Thailand by Khon Kaen and Khon Kaen-
trained practitioners on forestry, fisheries, water resource management,
education, small-scale enterprise, and health and nutrition.

Intensive training capability which Khon Kaen is now trying to transfer to
other institutions in Thailand to allow training staff to work on own research
and programs. Developing training materials for dissemination outside.
Stresses that training skills are not quickly acquired and focuses on
apprenticing newer practitioners to experienced fieldworkers. "As an analogy,
the musician plays easily, but this skill is not as easily acquired as it

Two-volume set of articles and case studies on RRA. Numerous case studies of
RRA applications.

Write To:
Dr. Terd Charoenwatana, KKU-Ford Rural Systems Research Project, Khon Kaen
University, Khon Kaen, Thailand.

3.7.3. Rapid Rural Appraisal Methods at Institute for Development Studies.
Sussex, Great Britain

Basic Approach:
This Institute's work in RRA under Robert Chambers has focused on generating
materials on overall methods and underlying principles. Two key areas
emerging from the work at IDS are: 1) elaboration of the concept of the
"resource-poor farmer" as a focus of investigation and planning; and 2) work
on irrigation management systems and planning (for farmer-participating
irrigation systems).

Key Concepts:
Basic principles are cross-checking (triangulation), avoiding biases and
pitfalls due to poor interview methods, tight team interaction, and attention
to the gains and losses of less visible groups in the population from planned
or executed interventions. Concerned with interactive tools, such as ranking,
schematics, and systems mapping. In comparison to agroecosystems analysis,
has slightly different concepts for water management, as outlined below.

6/ Grandstaff, Terry, and Somluckrat W. Grandstaff, "Rapid Rural Appraisal in
Forestry Extension," in Planning Forestry Extension Programmes, Field Document
No. 8, Regional Wood Energy Development Programme in Asia, FAO, May, 1988.

Runs various workshops at IDS or for other organizations using RRA. The RRA
methodology is taught as part of the two-year MPHIL program in Development
Studies. IDS also runs a three-month course for planners and researchers in
rural development with RRA as a major theme.

A wealth of articles and manuals/guidelines on general RRA, irrigation
management, rural poor, resource-poor farmers, and specific RRA tools.

Write To:
Robert Chambers or Robin Mearns, Institute for Development Studies, University
of Sussex, Brighton BN1 9RE, United Kingdom.

3.7.4. Agroecosystems Analysis and other RRA Methods -- International
Institute for Environment and Development. London. Great Britain

Basic Approach:
Drawing upon principles of bio-physical and cultural systems, agroecosystems
analysis evaluates natural resource management problems on the basis of
productivity, stability, sustainability and equitability in a package of tools
that are being refined by IIED for use in project design, monitoring, and
interactive village planning. This approach depends heavily on schematics to
generate data interactively and assemble that information in a form conducive
to problem-solving discussions.

Key Concepts:
In addition to organizing principles, changes in system elements over time
(markets and prices included), seasonability, labor changes, interactive
tools, mapping, and transects of resources that require the team to spend more
time with local people and generate data in analyzable form, Venn diagrams for
institutional analysis.

Courses for field personnel and planners which are mainly learned by doing.
IIED team takes trainees and directs them through an actual RRA exercise.

Case examples of RRA/agroecosystems analysis carried out for specific projects
or institutions, training manuals, general articles on methodology, publishes
"RRA Notes," a newsletter on developments in RRA methodology.

Write To:
Jules Pretty or Jennifer McCracken, International Institute for Environment
and Development, 3 Endsleigh Street, London WC1H ODD, United Kingdom.

3.7.5. From the Ground Up: Center for International Development and
Environment, and Clark University

Basic Approach:
From the Ground Up is a collaborative program between the Center for
International Development and Environment (CIDE)7, Clark University, and the
South Africa Office of IUCN. It assists government agencies and NGO's to
develop applied research and problem-solving methodologies, using case studies
of sustainable, indigenous systems of natural resource management and adapting
RRA and agroecosystems analysis tools to the African context.

Key Concepts:
Began with a main focus on case studies as a basis of workshops and planning
research, and now adds a strong RRA focus. Concerned with helping NGO's and
agencies understand and adapt effective, local-level systems of management and
technology use to other communities in similar circumstances.

Runs village-based training workshops, short courses and conferences. Courses
on RRA methods, including Agroecosystems Analysis, and research on indigenous
knowledge for policy- and decision-makers, research staff, extension agents,
and village leaders.

Completed case studies and material from other RRA training groups (IIED,
London, IDS, and Khon Kaen University).

Write To:
Richard Ford, Director, International Development: Research, Clark University,
950 Main Street, Worcester, Massachusetts 01610, U.S.A.; or, Peter G. Veit,
Center for International Development and Environment, World Resources
Institute, 1709 New York Avenue, N.W., Washington, D.C. 20006.

7/ of the World Resources Institute, Washington, D.C.

Box no. 20 Agroecasystem Properties

However, this complexity, at least in terms of its dynamic
consequences, can be captured by four system properties which,
together, describe the essential behavior of agroecosystems (Conway,
1983, 1985). These are productivity, stability, sustainability and
equitability. They are relatively easy to define, although not
equally easy to measure:

Productivity is the net increment in valued product per unit of
resource (land, Labor, energy or capital). It is commonly
measured as annual yield or net income per hectare or man hour or
unit of energy or investment.

Stability is the degree to which productivity remains constant in
spite of normal, small scale fluctuations in environmental
variables, such as climate, or in the economic conditions of the
market; it is most conveniently measured by the reciprocal of the
coefficient of variation in productivity.

Sustainability can be defined as the ability of a system to
maintain its productivity when subject to stress or perturbation.
A stress is here defined as a regular, sometimes continuous,
relatively small and predictable disturbance, for example the
effect of growing soil salinity or indebtedness. A perturbation,
by contrast, is an irregular, infrequent, relatively large and
unpredictable disturbance, such as is caused by a rare drought or
flood or a new pest. Unfortunately, measurement is difficult and
can often only be done retrospectively. Lack of sustainability
may be indicated by declining productivity; but, equally, as
experience suggests, collapse may come suddenly and without

Eauitability is a measure of how evenly the productivity of the
agroecosystem is distributed among its human beneficiaries. The
more equitable the system the more evenly are the agricultural
products, the food or the income or the resources, shared among
the population of the farm, village, region or nation. It can be
represented by a statistical distribution or by a measure such as
the Gini coefficient.

(Source: Conway, 1986.)

3.8 Examples of Specific Village-Level or Participatory Planning Applications

3.8.1. Microplanning: Indian Social Forestry Projects. National Wasteland
Development Board. India

Basic Approach:
Microplanning is a method of village level planning that is intended to be
used by forestry field staff in helping villages and communities to make up
action plans for afforestation and forest management activities and local
natural resource management. Focusing on collecting key information about
present use of available resources and perceived needs and priorities, this
approach simplifies the information-gathering requirements while ensuring
foresters interact with local villagers in developing action plans.

Key Concepts:
Draws upon existing information from household and group interviews, and
physical evaluation of local resources using sketch maps and rough
measurements. Interviews are done using a modified stratified sample of equal
numbers of individuals from each social group using the resources in question.
Aims to interview equal numbers of men and women. Tries to assess supply and
demand and devise an action plan for meeting demands, including attention to
technological options. Strong focus on need for sound forestry expertise as
well as social science expertise in microplanning method that will be of value
to villagers.

Training workshops have been held in Indian states for social forestry staff.
More work is needed on how to quality lower-level staff to interview

Manual on microplanning techniques and technological options published by
National Wasteland Development Board. Completed plans in several states.
Articles from workshops on extension methods and village-level planning

Write To:
A.K. Banerjee, ASTAG, World Bank, 1818 H Street, N.W., Washington, D.C. 20433,

3.8.2. Village Dialogue: Resource Conservation and Utilization Project.
and Tinau Watershed Development Project. Nepal

Basic Approach:
Multidisciplinary team of researchers, facilitators, and extension agents
(including agency and local development officials) assist villagers in
devising action plans for rehabilitation and management of village resources,
based on a fit between local needs/priorities and available government
programs and resources.

Key Concepts:
Combination of participatory environmental assessments, village discussions
over one-week period or ten-day "workshop," and household interviews.
Iterative process of village and official discussions, which pays attention to
differing needs, problems, attitudes and priorities of men and women and
different social and economic groups.

Training of agency staff, officials, and researchers/facilitators by doing
actual action plans with villagers. More work is needed on what to do when
village expectations are greater than government agents can deliver.

Articles on methodology, project documentation, case studies of successfully
drawn up action plans.

Write To:
Don Messerschmidt, Institute of Forestry, P.O. Box 43, Pokhara, Nepal; or,
Project Coordinator, Tinau Watershed Development Project, HMG/SATA, Tansen,
Palpa, Nepal.

3.8.3. Groupe de Recherche et d'Appui pour l'Autopromotion Paysanne
(GRAAP -- Group for Research and Application of Self-Training Approaches
for Rural People), Burkina Faso

Basic Approach: This Burkina Faso NGO has developed visual training materials
for forestry and environment which are being tried out in a small scale in
different projects in this country. There are four basic modules using
feltboard and tested visuals for use with local communities (these have been
circulated as mimeos under the Ministry of the Environment, Burkina Faso:
1) Our Changing Environment [allowing discussion of changes over time in
community area], 2) Trees in Our Lives, 3) The Life of the Soil, and 4)
Conserving Soil and Water.)

Key Concepts:
Self-training for rural people, use of visual aids tailored to nonliterate
rural people, environmental assessment.

In country, GRAAP gives training in the use of the materials on arrangement
with interested agencies/projects.

The complete set of visuals and background are available to projects from
GRAAP for purchase.

Write To: GRAAP, B.P. 785, Bobo-Dioulasso, Burkina Faso.


ABT Associates, Inc.
1987 "Operational Guidelines for the Rapid Appraisal of Parastally
Dominated Agriculture Marketing Systems." ABT Associates, Inc.,
Cambridge, Massachusetts. Address: ABT Associates, Inc., 4250
Connecticut Avenue, N.W., Suite 500, Washington, D.C. 20008.

This is one of the two papers by John Holtzman which applies a very useful
method for determining what kinds of information are of central importance for
the survey exercise.
Topic: Minimum Data Sets, Analytical Framework

The African Development Foundation
1988 Grassroots Development. Assessment of Projects, (OTA-F-378).
Congress of the U.S., Office of Technology Assessment, June. Address:
Superintendent of Documents, U.S. Government Printing Office, Washington,
D.C. 20402.

This contains the minimum data sets developed for the evaluation of rural
development projects funded by the African Development Foundation. These
provide a good model in combination with Parker, et al (1988) and Garrett, et
al (1987) of checklist to assess the local situation and progress of
Topic: Minimum Data Sets

Ashby, Jacqueline
1984 "Participation of Small Farmers in Technology Assessment:
Experimentation With Beans and Rock Phosphates." Paper presented at
CIAT Seminarios Internos, November 30, 1984. Address: Centro
International de Agricultura Tropical, A.A. 6713, Call, Colombia.

Ashby has won recognition for her work on farmer-designed and farmer-managed
farming systems research trials. In this article, she compares the results of
agronomic field trials when farmers both design and administer the trials to
trials in which farmers are active participants and planners of trials
designed by researchers. Not only do farmer-designed experiments tend to
yield results more appropriate to the farmer's level of resources, but they
also yield recommendations which are more likely to be adopted by a large
number of farmers.
Topic: Interactive Tools

Banerjee, A. K.
1987 "Microplanning: A Tool for Social Forestry Implementation,"
National Wasteland Development Board, Ministry of Environment and
Forests, Government of India, New Delhi. Address: A.K. Banerjee, ASTAG,
World Bank, 1818 H Street, N.W., Washington, D.C. 20433.

This is an interactive planning model developed for forestry staff in India to
develop village action plans with local people. It includes a minimum data
set for evaluating the state of the resource, for identifying perceived needs
and interventions, and helping the community devise sensible targets for their
involvement in government social forestry programs. Includes a section on
shrub planting as a conservation and productive forest.
Topic: Interactive Planning

Beebe, James
1985 Rapid Rural Appraisal: The Critical First Step in a Farming
Systems Approach to Research, Networking Paper No. 5, Farming Systems
Support Project, University of Florida, Gainesville, Florida 32601.

This is a classic article on the use of RRA for farming systems research, and
includes an annotated bibliography of resources.
Topic: General Methods, Annotated Bibliography

Bhattarai, T.N., and Gabriel Campbell
1985 Monitoring and Evaluation of the Community Forestry Project in
Nepal. Rome: Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations.

Includes useful information on the use of socio-economic and impact indicators
in monitoring surveys, and the varied methodologies used to collect different
types of data in a cost-effective, but sound manner.
Topic: Indicators, Analytical Framework

Bochet, Jean-Jacques
1983 Management of Upland Watersheds: Participation of the Mountain
Communities. FAO Conservation Guide No. 8. Rome: Food and Agriculture
Organization of the United Nations.

A guide to the kinds of questions that must be asked of local communities
regarding land use management and the scope for individual and community
participation in improved watershed management.
Topic: Minimum Data Sets

Brokensha, David, and Bernard Riley
1989 "Managing Natural Resources: The Local Level," in Man's Role in
Changing the Global Environment, New York: Academic Press.

Brokensha, David
1986 "Local Management Systems and Sustainability," paper prepared for
the Annual Meeting of the Society for Economic Anthropology, Riverside,
California, April. Address: David Brokensha, IDA, P.O. Box 2207,
Binghamton, New York 13902, U.S.A.

Brokensha has long been a proponent of local knowledge systems and places
considerable stress in his own use of RRA methods on eliciting indigenous
technical knowledge systems (ITK) regarding optimal ways to manage

natural resources. These articles provide a framework for understanding the
system from a local perspective.
Topic: Indigenous Technical Knowledge

Bruce, John W.
1989 "Rapid Appraisal of Tree and Land Tenure for the Design of Community
Forestry Initiatives Draft for FAO revised, Land Tenure Center,
University of Wisconsin, Madison, Wisconsin 53706.

This excellent manual provides the information needed for carrying out an ERA
of land tenure for forestry and land-based natural resource management
Topic: Minimum Data Sets

Burch, William
1987 "Learning about Local Communities," in Gregerson, Hans, Sydney
Draper and Dieter Elz, eds., People and Trees: The Role of Social
Forestry in Sustainable Development, Economic Development Institute,
Washington, D.C.: World Bank, May 1987, pp. 175-195.

Burch summarizes a number of general references on rapid appraisal techniques,
outlining the need to find out about local practices and the local knowledge
base people have about forests, land utilization, and tree species.
Topic: General, Group Interviews

Campbell, Gabriel, Ramesh Shrestha and Linda Stone
1979 Use and Misuse of Social Science Research in Nepal. Center for Nepal
and Asian Studies. Kathmandu, Nepal: His Majesty's Government Press.

This is the best study available to demonstrate the dangers of relying too
indiscriminately on formal surveys in development planning. The authors re-
interviewed respondents for a number of development-oriented questionnaires
and found a number of discrepancies in the information originally collected.
Economic data, particularly on land holdings, was way off and attitude
surveys, particularly those used for the Nepal Fertility Survey, were
extremely misleading. Part of this study has been published as "The Use and
Mis-Use of Surveys in International Development: An Experiment from Nepal,"
Human Organization 43(1):27-37, 1984.
Topic: Sampling Techniques, Pitfalls

Campbell, Gabriel, and Anis Dani
1985 "People's Motivations for Sustaining Upland Resources," paper
presented at the International Workshop on Watershed Management in the
Hindu-Kush Himalaya Region, Chengdu, China, October 1985.

Includes a set of guidelines for evaluating people's participation in
watershed management projects. Pays particular attention to the kinds of
incentives which are used to encourage different kinds of participation and
their effectiveness.
Topic: Minimum Data Sets

Carruthers, lan and Robert Chambers
1981 "Rapid Appraisal for Rural Development," in Agricultural
Administration, 8(6):407-422.

An introduction to rapid appraisal techniques. The main reference on methods
of rapid rural appraisal for development planning.
Topic: General Guidelines

Carson, Brian
1989 Soil Conservation Strategies for Upland Areas of Indonesia, Paper
No. 9, Occasional Papers of the East-West Environment and Policy
Institute, East-West Center, 1777 East-West Road, Honolulu, Hawaii 96848.

Brian Carson is a soil scientist and a pioneer in the use of maps and aerial
photographs in RRA of watershed issues. This book summarizes the work he has
carried out with KEPAS (Agroecosystems Research Group within the Ministry of
Agriculture, Indonesia) between 1986 and 1988. Key for watershed planners.
Topic: General Methods

Casley, Dennis, and Dennis Lury
1982 Monitoring and Evaluation of Agriculture and Rural Development
Projects, Washington, D.C.: The John Hopkins Press.

A general guide to monitoring and evaluation that includes a section on rapid
reconnaissance approaches to gathering information. Serves as a general set
of guidelines.
Topic: General Guidelines

Center for International Development and Environment and Clark University
1987 "From the Ground Up: A Program to Improve Project Design,
Management, Training and Resource Allocation through Documenting Local
Experiences in Sustainable Development." Mimeo. December.

A summary of a collaborative program between the Center of International
Development and Environment and Clark University to develop village resource
management plans with villagers, planners, and extension agents and to
document indigenous, effective systems of natural resource management. This
program includes training in RRA and agroecosystems analysis tools and
Topic: Interactive Planning

Chambers, Robert
1985 "Shortcut Methods of Gathering Social Information for Rural
Development Projects," in M. Cernea, ed., Putting People First, Oxford
University Press: New York.

An updated version of a paper prepared for the World Bank on rapid appraisal
techniques. This includes the information originally published in the classic
Agricultural Administration article cited above.
Topic: General Guidelines

1983 Rural Development: Putting the Last First, Harlow, England:
Longman Press.

In this book, the author describes the situation of the rural poor in the
developing countries and points out major gaps in the kinds of information
collected about this group, as well as the usual biases in formal and informal
surveys that prevent this group from being properly considered in project
design and implementation.
Topic: Least Visible Target Groups

Collinson, Michael
1981 "A Low-Cost Approach to Understanding Small Farmers," Agricultural
Administration, 8(6):433-50.

This is a general approach to the use of rapid appraisal methods in farming
systems research.
Topic: General Methods

Conway, Gordon
1986 Agroecosystem Analysis for Research and Development, Winrock
International Institute for Agricultural Development. Address: Winrock
International, Petit Jean Mountain, Morrilton, Arkansas 72110, U.S.A.

This is an earlier paper by Gordon Conway outlining this approach to resource
management planning and problems analysis.
Topic: Agroecosystems Analysis

Dewalt, Billie, and Kathryn Dewalt
1980 "Stratification and Decision-Making in the Use of New Agricultural
Technology," in Peggy Barlett, ed., Agricultural Decision-Making:
Anthropological Contributions to Rural Development, New York: Academic

This is an excellent article illustrating the fact that a combination of
theoretical models is needed to understand a range of farm decisions taken by
a single sample of farmers. In some cropping decisions, farmers conformed to
the wealthy/poor adoption rate predictor, while in others, the upper middle
strata were the most conservative. For RRA, this points out the danger of
choosing a sample based on a prior prediction regarding the adoption of new
cropping strategies for farmers of different classes/strata.
Topic: Pitfalls

Dove, Michael, Nasrullah Khan Aziz and Jamil A. Qureshi
1988 "Farmer Preferences for the Timing of Tree Planting; The Punjab,
NWFP, Baluchistan," Report No.7, Forestry Planning and Development
Project, Government of Pakistan USAID.

This paper is the result of one of a series of short-term surveys carried out
to understand the local farmers' agroforestry system and needs for assistance
in the above forestry project. Like the Khon Kaen studies, it provides a good

model for the kind of information that can be collected through such direct
field exercises.
Topic: Minimum Data Sets

Folch-Lyon, E., and John F. Trost
1981 "Conducting Focus Group Sessions," Studies in Family Planning.

Topic: Focus Groups

Useful guidelines on focus group sessions.

Fox, Jeff
1986 "Social Forestry Network Aerial Photographs and Thematic Maps
for Social Forestry", Network Paper 2C, ODI, Agricultural Administration
Unit, London
Topic: Forestry

This article describes the methodology used in an Indonesian forestry project
to evaluate land use and design interventions. This methodology is very
similar to that developed by Brian Carson, included in this bibliography.

Franzel, Steven, and Eric Crawford
1987 "Comparing Formal and Informal Survey Techniques for Farming
Systems Research: A Case Study from Kenya," Agricultural Administration,

The authors compared the validity of data acquired from formal and informal
survey techniques and concluded that there was not an appreciable difference
in the recommendations. Errors in the informal survey were greatest in
quantitative estimates, such as crop production. Also interesting were errors
due to interviewer overcompensation for expected errors in estimates of number
of rich versus poor farmers. Informal interviews actually produced closer
estimates of numbers of larger farms and farm size than interviewers expected,
so when they adjusted the figures to compensate for supposed error, they
skewed the data.
Topic: Sampling Techniques

Freedom from Hunger Foundation, Aaron Zazueta
1988 Rapid Rural Appraisal for Project Analysis Planning. Foundation
address: 1644 Da Vinci Court, P.O. Box 2000, Davis, California 95617.

This document is the training manual used by the Freedom from Hunger
Foundation for its training courses in rapid rural appraisal for host-country
planners, researchers, and extension agents. It is particularly strong in the
choice of training exercises to put participants at ease, to help participants
evaluate projects and activities in terms of sustainability, and to generate
role playing in interview situations.
Topic: Training Materials

Fujuisaka, Sam
1986 "Upland and Rainfed Development in the Philippines," in Edward
Green, ed., Practicing Development Anthropology, Boulder, Colorado:
Westview Press, pp. 160-184.The author reviews informal methods taught in
a series of training sessions on rapid appraisal, discussing some of the ways
to analyze identified problems through informal lines of questioning. He also
compares longer-term and short-term work, finding that rapid appraisal
prevents accurate assessment of complex local social dynamics and prevents the
observation of processes unfolding over time, such as changes in economic
strategies due to response to raw material availability and market prices.
Topic: Pitfalls

Garrett, Patricia, Jorge Uquillas and Carolyn Campbell
1987 Interview Guide for the Regional Analysis of Farming Systems,
Cornell International Agriculture Mimeograph 113. Cornell University,
Ithaca, New York 14853.

This approach to FSR takes a regional perspective of factoring in ecological
and economic factors as well as socio-cultural factors of class, caste,
household composition, labor pools and relationships, nutritional factors, and
marketing factors.
Topic: Minimum Data Sets, Indicators

Gow, David
1987 "Rapid Rural Appraisal: Social Science as Investigative Journalism,"
in Finsterbusch, Kurt, Jay Ingersoll and Lynn Llewellyn, eds., Fitting
Projects: Methods for Social AnAlysis for Projects in Developing
Countries. Boulder, Colorado: Lynne Rienner Publishers.

Drawing extensively upon his own experience, the author reviews the methods
outlined in general guidelines, particularly Honadle (1982) and Chambers
(1985) and discusses particular problems and considerations for the use of
various techniques.
Topic: General Methods

Gregerson, Hans
1987 People and Trees: The Role of Social Forestry in Sustainable
Development. Washington, D.C.: Economic Development Institute, the
World Bank.

This book has been developed for use in training courses on forestry projects.
It covers the entire planning and implementation process. In addition to
Burch's article cited above on rapid appraisal, Chapters 6 8 have relevant
material on the socio-economic issues for which information is needed at
different project stages. Also extremely relevant are discussions and
references on use of incentives for local participation (Chapter 9).
Topic: General Methods

Harrington, L.W., and Robert Tripp
1984 "Recommendation Domains: A Framework for On-Farm Research,"
International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center, CIMMYT, Economics
Program Working Paper No. 2/84, Mexico.

CIMMYT has developed a framework for on-farm research that helps to identify
the appropriate target clientele for specific agricultural improvements -- the
recommendation domain. Farmers with similar agricultural potentials and
constraints are grouped into domains in the design implementation and analysis
of on-farm experiments.
Topic: General Methods
Hendricks, Michael
1987 Training Materials from a Workshop on Qualitative Methods for Family
Planning, Dhaka, Bangladesh, mimeo. (M. Hendricks Associates, 3419 30th
Street, N.W., Washington, D.C. 20008.)

Hendricks has assembled a variety of materials on ways to use qualitative
methods in the evaluation of family planning field programs. He has useful
sections on different group interview techniques, including the informal
delphi and focus-group interview methods. Much is applicable to the
evaluation of field staff performance and constraints for land-based
development programs.
Topic: Training Materials

Hildebrand, Peter
1981 "Combining Disciplines in Rapid Appraisal: The Sondeo Approach,"
Agricultural Administration, 8(6):423-32.

A description of the useful and classic technique of conducting short field
surveys using rotating pairs of experts from technical and social science
Topic: Team Interaction

Hill, Polly
1986 Development Economics on Trial. London: Tavistock Publishers.

This was written to provide anthropological counter arguments to many
assumptions made by economic development theorists regarding the reliability
of statistics and formal surveys on food and agriculture, regarding
misconceptions of the role of rural debt in the village economy, and regarding
assumptions about village stratification and farmer decision-making. A number
of these issues have relevance for the design of interviews in rapid
appraisal. Her main point is that misconceptions about the rural reality
subtly shape lines of questioning and lead to faulty data collection.
Topic: Pitfalls

Holtzman, John F.
1986 "Rapid Reconnaissance Guidelines for Agricultural Marketing and
Food System Research in Developing Countries," Working Paper 30., ABT
Associates, Cambridge, Massachusetts. Address: ABT Associates, Inc.,
4250 Connecticut Avenue, N.W., Washington, D.C. 20008.

This is the second paper by this author which applies a systematic framework
to identifying the pertinent issues for which information needs to be
collected, in this case for agricultural marketing and food system research.
Holtzman's approach is very useful for RRA survey teams because it provides a
cross-check for deciding which information is really of importance to the data
gathering exercise so that the team does not waste valuable time on questions
of peripheral importance to the research effort.
Topic: Minimum Data Sets

Honadle, George
1982 "Rapid Reconnaissance for Development Administration: Mapping and
Moulding Organizational Landscapes," World Development, 10(8):623-649.

Includes an extremely useful section, quoted in Gregerson, Draper, and Elz,
eds., People and Trees: The Role of Social Forestry in Sustainable
Development, Washington, D.C.: EDI, World Bank, on the situations in which
informal and formal surveys are warranted and how the results from each method
might differ.
Topic: Interview Technique

Hoskins, Marilyn
1979 Women for Local Community Development: A Programming Guide. AID-
supported study. Washington, D.C.: U.S.A.I.D.

Points out the need to question women and children separately from men about
their knowledge, interests, and use of different forest and fodder products
and species, to properly understand the local agroforestry system and its
Topic: Least Visible Target Groups

ICRAF (International Council for Research in Agroforestry)
1983 Resources for Agroforestry Diagnosis and Design, Diagnostic and
Design Methodology Manual Series No. 2, Working Paper No. 7, Nairobi,
Kenya: International Council for Research in Agroforestry.

Series of collected articles on Diagnosis and Design (D&D) methodology
developed at ICRAF for the study of agroforestry systems. Places an emphasis
on finding interventions that are sustainable, productive, and culturally
appropriate. Includes a spacial mapping technique that identifies which
landscape niches within the general environment and on farms are used by
different users (men, women, herders, landless, etc.).
Topic: General Methods

International Institute for Environment and Development (IIED)
1988-Present RRA Notes. Address: IIED, 3 Endsleigh Street, London WC1H
ODD, United Kingdom.

This is a networking newsletter for exchanging information on new methods from
the field. The RRA Notes publish a wide range of experiences with trying out
different approaches in field situations. The editors (Gordon Conway, Robert

Chambers, Jennifer McCracken, and Jules Pretty) are encouraging more
contributions from local users in the developing countries as well as from
international specialists.
Topic: General Methods

Jamieson, Niel
1987 "The Paradigmatic Significance of Rapid Rural Appraisal," in
Proceedings of the 1985 International Conference on Rapid Rural
Appraisal, Rural Systems Research and Farming Systems Research Projects,
Khon Kaen University, Khon Kaen 40002, Thailand, pp. 89-102.

The author points out the importance of rapid appraisal as a new paradigm for
incorporating the local beneficiary into the process of information-gathering
and decision-making. Because the fact-finding team engages in a dialogue with
the project beneficiaries in rapid appraisal, there is much more feedback
between project planners and implementers and beneficiaries, an issue of equal
importance to questions of survey validity, etc.
Topic: Team Interaction, General

Jones, Jeffrey, and Ben Wallace, eds.
1985 Social Sciences and Farming Systems Research: Methodological
Perspectives on Agricultural Development, Boulder, Colorado: Westview

A collection of articles which review the range of social science input into
farming systems research and analyze the role of the anthropologist in
developing a framework for informal survey research, working in a multi-
disciplinary approach, and ensuring that the farmer's perception of problems
emerges in both diagnostic and evaluative stages when introducing an
Topic: General

Khon Kaen University,
1987 Proceedings of the 1985 International Conference on Rapid Rural
Appraisal, Rural Systems Research and Farming Systems Research Projects,
Khon Kaen, Thailand.

This is the best single reference to RRA techniques and the range of
applications. It has a range of articles from a 1985 workshop that cover
general methods, interview techniques and survey pointers and case
applications. There is now a companion case study volume to this one, also
available from the University by writing to: Dr. Terd Charoenwatana, Faculty
of Agriculture, Khon Kaen University.
Topic: General Methods

Koenig, Dolores
1986 "Alternative Views of the Energy Problem: Why Malian Villagers Have
Other Priorities," Human Organization, 45(2):170-176.

An article describing a very different viewpoint on the fuel crisis from that
imputed to village women by planners.
Topic: Least Visible Target Groups

Kumar, Krishna
1987 Rapid. Low-Cost Data Collection Methods for A.I.D.
U.S.A.I.D Program Design and Evaluation Methodology Report, No. 10,
Washington, D.C.: U.S. Agency for International Development, December.

This is a manual on RRA methods geared to the needs of U.S.A.I.D staff. It
covers a number of key methodological issues and provides an overview of a
number of methods currently in use.
Topic: General Methods

1987 Conducting Group Interviews in Developing Countries. A.I.D. Program
Design and Evaluation Methodology Report, No. 8. Washington, D.C.: Agency
for International Development (Office of CDIE).

This is a concise and up-to-date guide on techniques of conducting community
and focus group interviews designed for use by non-social scientists,
particularly project managers and design and evaluation team leaders.
Included at the end is a short list of good, traditional references on social
science methodology on conducting interviews.
Topic: Group Interviews

Maxwell, Simon
1986 "Farming Systems Research: Hitting a Moving Target," World
Development 14(1):65-77.

Maxwell argues that FSR has failed to include the fact that the rural
situation changes over the time of the FSR recommendation to often make it
inappropriate or obsolete. This is particularly relevant advice to social
foresters who are making recommendations for planting trees that will not be
harvestable for a long period of time, and must continue to prove adaptive to
a farmer's overall strategy.
Topic: Pitfalls

McCracken, Jennifer A., Jules N. Pretty and Gordon R. Conway
1988 An Introduction to Rapid Rural Appraisal for Agriculture
Development, International Institute for Environment and Development
(IIED), London.

This is the latest overview to RRA as developed by IIED, London, which uses
agroecosystems analysis as a core approach for organizing the RRA tool kit.
This manual describes training programs and includes an annotated bibliography
and list of network experts.
Topic: General Methods, Interactive Tools, Agroecosystems Analysis

Messerschmidt, Donald
1987 "Conservation and Society in Nepal: Traditional Forest Management
and Innovative Development," in Peter Little, ed., Lands at Risk in the
Third World, Boulder, Colorado: Westview Press, pp. 373-398.

Describes the village dialogue approach used for watershed management in local
Topic: Interactive Planning

Minister de 1'Environment et du Tourisme, Burkina Faso.
1974-76 Retenir 1'Eau et la Terre
Vie de la Terre
Pour Une Pedagogie de 1'Autopromotion

These are a series of village-level extension materials which provide a
framework for problem analysis by local communities regarding the state of the
environment and natural resource management issues and potential solutions.
Topic: Interactive Tools

Murray, Gerald
1986 "Seeing the Forest while Planting the Trees: An Anthropological
Approach to Agro-forestry in Rural Haiti," in D.W. Brinkerhoff and J.C.
Garcia Zamor, eds., Politics. Projects, and Peasants: Institutional
Development in Haiti, New York: Praeger, pp. 193-266.

Deals with issues relevant to local negotiations with local communities and
the types of local information needed for planning in community forestry.
Topic: Interactive Planning

Naronha, Raymond
1980 Sociological Aspects of Forestry Project Design. Washington, D.C.:
World Bank. Agricultural Technical Note #3.

Parts of this report are included in Naronha and Spears, "Sociological
Variables in Forestry Project Design," in Michael Cernea, ed., Putting People
First, Washington, D.C.: John Hopkins Press, 1985. This is a very useful
report detailing the sociological factors of importance in community forestry
project design and outlining the range of information that must be collected
to evaluate the role of these factors in any particular region or culture
area. Strong on factors related to land tenure and legal rights to land use.
Topic: Minimum Data Sets

Ngasomsuke, Kamol, Prasat Saenchai, Panomsak Promburom and Bunthom Suraporn
1987 Farmers' Attitudes Towards Forest. Plantation and Conservation
Farming in Selected Villages of the Phu Wiang Valley. Khon Kaen.
Integrated Development of the Phu Wiang Watershed, Field Document 3,
UNDP/Food and Agriculture Organization of the UN. Khon Khaen, Thailand.

This document compares the results of an RRA-style investigation and a formal
survey regarding use of forest products and concludes that most of the
information acquired through the RRA exercise is substantiated in the more
detailed, formal survey.
Topic: Sampling Techniques

Odell, Malcolm, Marcia Odell and Steve Franzel
1986 Diagnosis in Farming Systems Research and Extension, Volumes I and
II, for Farming Systems Support Program, University of Florida,
Gainesville. (Consulting editor, Lisette Walecka), (Farming Systems
Research and Extension Training Units).

A training manual of which Volume I concentrates on diagnostic surveys and the
various techniques and methodologies for carrying these out. Includes
training units on sampling methodologies, informal survey and interviewing
techniques, use of existing and secondary data as background information, and
rapid appraisal approaches. Much of this work is based on work done in
community forestry as well as farming systems.
Topic: Training Materials

Odell, Malcolm
1987 Course Manual: Communications and Market Research for Agriculture.
The Graduate School, USDA, Washington, D.C.

Includes excellent summary of one-card system for local information sorting
from rapid appraisal surveys and summary of focus group interview techniques.
Topic: Training Materials

Parker, Kathleen, Shiva Achet, Richard Calnan, Wm. Fleming and M. Joshi,
1988 Final Evaluation Report: Resource Conservation and Utilization
Project No. 367-0132, Report submitted to USAID, by Tropical Research and
Development, Inc., 4010 Newberry Road, Suite D, Gainesville, Florida

This contains a minimum data set for project evaluation at the village site
level on the basis of technical efficiency, sustainability, economic cost-
effectiveness, institutional soundness, and level of participation.
Topic: Minimum Data Set

Patton, Michael Quinn
1986 Utilization Focused Evaluation. Beverly Hills: Sage Publishers.

This is the most recent of Patton's books on practical evaluation. It
contains a wealth of useful insights on why and how to collect information of
importance to program implementation. An excellent background source for
deciding what kinds of indicators are needed for various rapid appraisal
Topic: Interviewing, Analytical Framework

1980 Qualitative Interview Methods. Beverly Hills: Sage Publishers.

This is another extremely useful general source on evaluative interviewing.
The sections on techniques of conducting interviews and ways to plan questions
are based on years of open-ended and structured interviewing in a variety of

evaluation areas, especially educational programs. Much is directly relevant
to interviewing farmers and other rural beneficiaries.
Topic: Interviewing

Potten, David
1986 "RRA of Small Irrigation Schemes in Zimbabwe," paper for Seminar at
the International Irrigation Management Institute, March 1986.

Reviews Robert Chambers' list of RRA Techniques in relation to their use on an
evaluation team's visit to Zimbabwe. One interesting conclusion was the
team's consensus that rather than spending an additional day in each
irrigation scheme (they spent one day in each), it would have been more cost-
effective to make a follow-up trip for the same length of time in a different
agricultural season.
Topic: Team Interaction, General Methods

Raintree, John, ed.
1986 An Introduction to Agroforestry Diagnosis and Design, Nairobi,
Kenya: International Center for Research in Agroforestry. Address:
ICRAF House, off Limuru Road, Gigiri, P.O. Box 30677, Nairobi, Kenya.

Overview of the Diagnosis and Design methodology, intended for use by
expatriate experts, developing-country planners, and field extension staff.
Topic: Interactive Tools, Indicators, Data Sets

1987 "The State of the Art of Agroforestry Diagnosis and Design," in
Agroforestry Systems, 1987 special issue on ICRAF's 10th Anniversary.

Summarizes the ICRAF D&D strategy in detail and reviews and references the
wide range of working papers and studies carried out by the research team at
ICRAF to date. Table 5 is a very relevant chart of the decision-making
process and the corresponding field survey questions that must be asked to
provide the needed information to make those decisions.
Topic: Interactive Planning, Minimum Data Sets

Regional Wood Energy Development Programme in Asia
1988 Planning Forestry Extension Programmes. Report of a Regional Expert
Consultation in collaboration with Forest Trees and People Programme and
Winrock International F/FRED Project, Food and Agriculture Organization
of the United Nations, Bangkok, Thailand.

Includes a host of examples of local negotiations/village-level planning
approaches using interactive tools for involving local people in the planning
process. See article by Raintree and Hoskins on Appropriate R&D Support for
Forestry Extension and other methodology chapters.
Topic: Interactive Planning

Rhoades, Robert
1986 "Using Anthropology in Improving Food Production: Problems and
Prospects," Agricultural Administration (22)1986:57-78.

In addition to outlining the special contribution of anthropology to multi-
disciplinary efforts, Rhoades presents a case describing the quickness and
innovativeness with which one anthropologist studied one valley (two months in
Montaro valley) and produced a report based on informal surveys and use of
secondary sources (aerial photographs, government documents) that has proved
invaluable to FSR planning in that region at very low cost. Document produced
by the anthropologist is unfortunately not readily available in the U.S.A.
(Mayer, E., "Land Use in the Andes: Ecology and Agriculture in the Montaro
Valley of Peru with Special Reference to Potatoes," Lima, Peru: International
Potato Center, 115 pp., 1979).
Topic: General

1985 "Informal Survey Methods for Farming Systems Research," Human
Organization, 44(3):215-218.

A more accessible summary of the methodology detailed in the earlier pamphlet.
One or the other is must reading for practitioners. Both include such topics
as when and how to interview the respondent, how to establish a good rapport,
when to introduce sensitive issues, how to record the answers, and how to
analyze the findings.
Topic: Interview Techniques

1982 The Art of the Informal Agricultural Survey, Lima, Peru:
International Potato Center. Address: CIP, P.O. Box 5969, Lima, Peru.

Rhoades classic article on how to conduct an informal survey with farmers.

1982 "Farmer Back to Farmer: A Model for Generating Acceptable
Agricultural Technology," Agricultural Administration 11(1982):127-137.

Outlines the farmer-back-to-farmer strategy mentioned under FSR approaches in
this report. Of importance to community forestry is the use of farmers as the
'evaluators' of the effectiveness of any intervention and the use of open-
ended dialogues with farmers to identify problems and good points of
Topic: Farming Systems Research

Rocheleau, Dianne
1985 Land-Use Planning with Rural Farm Households and Communities:
Participatory Agroforestry Research. Working Paper No. 36. Nairobi,
Kenya: International Center for Research on Agro-forestry. Address:
ICRAF House, off Limuru Road, Gigiri, P.O. Box 30677, Nairobi, Kenya.

This study identifies the importance of collecting information on household
composition and inter-household groupings for designing and carrying out
group-based activities. Also reinforces Hoskins (1979) finding that women,
men and children in the same household have different knowledge, interest, and
responsibilities with respect to specific land units, plants and animals, and
particular activities (pp. 9-10).
Topic: Least Visible Groups

Sajise, Perry E. and Terry Rasho
1985 Agroecosystem Research in Rural Resource Management and Development,
Selected papers presented at the second SUAN-EAPI Regional Symposium on
Agroecosystem Research, Baguio City, Philippines, March 1985, Southeast
Asian Universities Agroecosystem Network (SUAN), and Program on
Environmental Science and Management, University of the Philippines, at
Los Banos, Philippines.

This is a good example of agroecosystem analysis (AEA) as applied to problems
of upland development and coastal development in the Philippines. As AEA is
adapted by local researchers in different countries, each country develops its
own version of this methodology.
Topic: Agroecosystems Analysis

Salmen, Lawrence
1987 Listen to the People: Participant-Observer Evaluation of
Development Projects, for World Bank, New York: Oxford University Press.

Salmen has tailored the traditional techniques of participant-observation to
in-country evaluation by host-country personnel of large projects. Using a
combination of residence in several communities and cross-checking of
information through structured interviews, he has obtained more reliable
information about community participation than through traditional monitoring
Topic: General Methods

Schwartz, Norman
1988 "Rapid Assessment and Development Projects," presented to American
Anthropological Association Meetings, Session on "Meeting the Challenge
of New Age Research: Methodological Adaptation in Applied Anthropology,"
November, 1988. Address: Prof. Norman Schwartz, Dep't. of Anthropology,
University of Delaware, Newark, Delaware 19711.

This paper compares the use of indicators of community service assessment as
proxies to measure whether or not a group fishery cooperative was likely to
succeed in Panama and its application to Ecuador. He finds that proxies are
geographically specific, but very useful shorthand if properly applied.
Topic: Pitfalls, Indicators

Scrimshaw, Susan, and Elena Hurtado
1987 Rapid Assessment Procedures for Nutrition and Primary Health Care:
Anthropological Approaches to Improving Programme Effectiveness.
Los Angeles: University of California Press.

This manual contains detailed checklists for the evaluation of nutrition and
primary health care services for use by host-country medical and para-medical
personnel. These are in effect minimum data sets for the health field with
particular attention to group interview techniques and informal interview
Topic: General Methods

Shaner, W.W., P.F. Philipp, and W.R. Schmehl
1982 Farming Systems Research and Development: Guidelines for Developing
Countries, Boulder, Colorado: Westview Press.

This is a detailed and practical compendium of RRA techniques for informal
surveys and interviews and other FSR techniques. It compiles techniques used
by a wide variety of FSR practitioners, with ample discussion of the social
scientist's input. Useful are discussions of sampling options, a case study
of interviewing women in Bangladesh, and the section on ways to interview
farmers on decision-making. The limitation on this work is that the relative
values of different methods proposed are not systematically evaluated in this
Topic: General Methods

Slade, Roger, and Gabriel Campbell
1987 An Operational Guide to the Monitoring and Evaluation of Social
Forestry in India. Forestry Paper No. 75. Rome: Food and Agriculture
Organization of the United Nations (FAO).

Based on the experience with implementing community forestry projects in India
and Nepal, this handbook outlines a simple, yet effective set of methods for
conducting monitoring and evaluation for broad community forestry programs.
Includes phasing of the collection of different types of information from the
start-up of the M&E unit throughout the life of the project and discusses ways
to effectively design and carry out special studies and case studies.
Topic: Indicators

Suelzer, R., and K. Sharma
1986 Working with the People: Some Experiences with the People-Centered
Approach (PDPP) in the Tinau Watershed Project 1983 1986.
Tansen, Nepal: HMG/SATA Tinau Watershed Project paper. Mimeo.

Describes the seven-day workshop approach to community planning, with group
interviews/discussions on local conditions and development parameters.
Topic: Interactive Planning

UN ACC Task Force on Rural Development
1985 Guiding Principles for the Design and Use of Monitoring and
Evaluation in Rural Development Projects, Rome: UN.

In a section on short-term information gathering, this pamphlet succinctly
summarizes the interview and survey techniques that are needed for rapid
reconnaissance. These are similar to those discussed by Robert Chambers, with
specific attention to both village-based and external forces affecting
farmers' decision-making.
Topic: General Methods

Vergara, Napoleon, et al
1986 "Social Forestry Research Issues: Preliminary Problem
Identification in Sisaket Province, Northeast Thailand," ODI Social
Forestry Network Paper 2b, London: Overseas Development Institute.
Address: Overseas Development Institute, Regent's College, Inner Circle,
Regent's Park, London NW1 4NS.

Reports on the preliminary issues identified by research engaged in
participatory action research being carried out in India and Thailand. The
approach used is research through use of dialogue with farmers and action
programmes while in residence in a village.
Topic: Interactive Tools

Warwick, Donald
1976 The Sample Survey: Theory and Practice, New York: McGraw Hill

There is a wealth of information in this handbook on ways to design
questionnaires and important factors in question phrasing and sequencing of
questions to reduce bias. Suggestions such as "don't wait till the very end
of the survey to introduce controversial questions, or the informant will be
too tired to respond, although you must wait until enough rapport has been
established to ask such questions" are directly relevant to rapid information
gathering interviews, even when interviews are unstructured.
Topic: Interview Techniques


Re ardin A locations t

International Institute for
Environment and Development
3 Endsleigh Street
London, WC1H ODD, United Kingdom

World Bank
1818 H Street, N.W.
Washington, D.C. 20433, U.S.A.

Jennifer McCracken
Jules Pretty
lan Scoones

A.K. Banerjee, Forester
Orhan Baykal, Forester
William Beattie, Forester
Michael Cernea, Sociology Advisor
Michael Collinson, CGIAR Advisor
Cynthia Cook, Social Scientist
Gloria Davis, Chief, Asia Environment Division
Shelton Davis, Social Scientist
Scott Guggenheim, Social Scientist
William Jones, Economist
Marita Koch-Weser, Social Scientist
Josette Murphy, Monitoring & Eval. Specialist
Ronald Ng, Monitoring & Evaluation Specialist
William Partridge, Social Scientist
Todd Ragsdale, Social Scientist
Paul Ryan, Forester
Roger Slade, Monitoring & Eval. Specialist
Ai Chin Wee, Economist
David Williams, Urban Planner

David Brokensha
Peter Little
Michael Painter

David D. Gow
Maxwell Goldensohn
George Honadle

Institute for Development
P.O. Box 2207
Binghamton, New York 13902, U.S.A.

Development Alternatives, Inc.
624 Ninth Street, N.W.
Washington, D.C. 20004, U.S.A.

D ssu. - ve I-. *-.A g p -owed

Darn~nn Pn~nlt~rl nv Tntnrri~w~rl

Center for International Development and
Envi roment
World Resources Institute
1709 New York Avenue, N.W.
Washington, D.C. 20006, U.S.A.

United States Agency for International
320 21st Street, N.W.
Washington, D.C. 20523, U.S.A.

Forest Department
Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO)
of the United Nations
Via delle Terme di Caracalla
00100 Rome, Italy

Institute of Development Studies
University of Sussex
Brighton BN1 9RE, United Kingdom

Peter G. Veit
Robert Winterbottom

Roberto Castro, FSR Advisor
John Grayzel, Mission to India
John Lewis, Bureau for Africa
Sidney Schuler, Population & Health
Michael Yates, Science & Technology

Marilyn W. Hoskins
Lennart Ljungman

Robert Chambers
Robin Mearns

J.E. Mike Arnold, Oxford Forestry Institute, South Parks Road, Oxford OX1 3RB,
United Kingdom

William Bentley, Winrock International, Petit Jean Mountain, Morrilton, Arkansas
72110, U.S.A.

J. Gabriel Campbell, 5803 Manchester Place, N.W., Washington, D.C. 20011, U.S.A.

Peter Castro, Dep't. of Anthropology, Syracuse University, 500 University Place,
Syracuse, New York 13244, U.S.A.

Peter DeWees, Oxford Forestry Institute; or, P.O. Box 67498, Nairobi, Kenya

Ann Fleuret, Institute of African Studies, University of Nairobi, P.O. Box
30197, Nairobi, Kenya

Loren Ford, Forest Service, United States Dep't. of Agriculture, Box 25,000, Rio
Piedras, Puerto Rico 00928

Karen Schoonmaker Freudenberger, IDRC/CRDI, B.P. 11007, CD Annexe, Dakar,

Solveig Freudenthal, Department of Social Anthropology, Annex 1, S-106 91
Stockholm, Sweden

Barbara Grandin, International Laboratory for Research on Animal Diseases, P.O.
Box 30709, Nairobi, Kenya

Terry and Somluckrat Grandstaff, 1458 New Petchburi Road, Bangkok, 10310,

Ruth Grosvenor-Alsop, Intermediate Technology Development Group, Myson House,
Railway Terrace, Rugby CV21 3HT, United Kingdom

Andrew Manzardo, 6214 Haddon Avenue, Baltimore, Maryland, U.S.A.

McPherson, Laura, 6513 Pleasant Place, Little Rock, Arkansas, 72205, U.S.A.

Don Messerschmidt, Institute of Forestry, P.O. Box 43, Pokhara, Nepal

J. Kathy Parker, The Oriskany Institute, P.O. Box 487, Broomall, Pennsylvania
19008, U.S.A.

John Raintree, ICRAF House, off Limuru Road, Gigiri, P.O. Box 30677, Nairobi,

Rolf Reichert, GTZ Division 404, Room 1347, P.O. Box 5180, D-6236 Eschborn 1,
Federal Republic of Germany

Anders Rudqvist, Dep't. of Social Anthropology, University of Stockholm, Annex
1, S-106 91 Stockholm, Sweden

Ueli Scheuermeier, Alexandraweg 34, 3006 Bern, Switzerland

Anita Spring, Dep't. of Anthropology, University of Florida, Gainesville,
Florida 32611, U.S.A.


A Statistical Package
by Ronald Ng, ASTAG, World Bank

This package currently contains a series of four programs designed for the
non-statistician undertaking monitoring and evaluation. Two of these
programs allow the user to determine a minimum sample size for analysis of
key parameters that have been identified as important for project
implementation. The advantage of these programs is that they are
participative. Sample size is determined on the basis of sound statistical
calculations, (but also) on the basis of information already available to
the user/s about the parameters to be studied. Thus, the users determine
sample size by interactively inserting "what they know already" about the
situation, so that a manageable, minimum sample size can be selected to test
their working hypotheses. This program is "dirty" because it relies upon
the quality of information which the user inputs. If the data is fairly
reliable, the survey becomes less "dirty", if the data is incorrect, then
the process is more "dirty". The statistical package programmed in is,
however, itself very sophisticated and very sound.

The program is ideal as part of an iterative monitoring and evaluation
process, whereby on the basis of an earlier rapid appraisal, users can
develop a statistically-valid sample for a survey to study more formally key
parameters identified during the rapid appraisal. The results of the more
formal survey in turn can be the basis for discussions with target
beneficiaries regarding the problems and issues to be resolved by project

Both sampling programs use a cluster sampling methodology. The logic
behind this choice of sampling method is quite simple. It is assumed that
the reason for needing a "quick and dirty" design is that it is not
practical to travel long distances identifying random elements for study,
thus a cluster is easier to sample. Second, while a stratified sample is
the most efficient choice in most cases, it is assumed that the information
required to construct a proper stratified sample is not available to the
users. Therefore the logical choice is a cluster sample.

Option "C" is used for calculating the sample size to measure incidence of a
quantitative parameter, such as "crop yield figures" or "household income",
while option "D" is used to calculate the sample size to survey a
proportional parameter, such as "the proportion of households who are tenant
farmers" or "the proportion of farmers who have adopted a new technology".

Based on the range of variation found in preliminary observations
regarding a particular parameter, it becomes possible for the user to make
an educated judgement of the optimal number of clusters that should be

Instructions for Use of the Sampling Programs

In order to construct a sample size, the user should enter the
information available to him from his own rapid appraisals of the project
area or about the population in question. If there are several variables
about which the user wants information from the same sample, each program
can be run repeatedly using the same rapid appraisal data. The objective
may be to collect information both on "crop yield" and income data".
Option C should be run consecutively for each parameter and the optimal
sample size will be the larger of the two recommended sample. Similarly if
two or more proportions are to be measured, the user will "run" Option D for
each proportion and sample the largest recommended number of clusters and
respondents. In some cases, the user might wish to collect both
quantitative and proportional information ("proportion of adopters" and
"average income" or "average number of trees planted" ) in the same survey.
Here, an educated judgement must be made by the user as to the optimal or
practical sample size, based on the recommended sample sizes given for each
of Option C and D.

For example, if the survey is designed to find out:
household income and maize yields with improved practices, the user will run
Option C for each of these parameters and sample the larger of the two
recommended sample sizes (both clusters and respondents). If the survey is
designed to find out: percent of adoption of improved practices, percent of
farmers with irrigated land, and percent of farmers who are owner-tillers,
THEN the user would run the program Option "D" for each of these variables
and record the indicated sample size for each parameter. The results might
be as follows:

Population: No. of Clusters: 125 villages
Size of Clusters: Average of 100 households/village
Parameter Indicated Sample Size
Household income 8 clusters/ 20 respondents per cluster
Maize yields 10 clusters/10 respondents per cluster

Improved Practives 20 clusters
Owner-Tillers 15 clusters
Irrigated Land 12 clusters

For the quantitative parameters, the sample size would be 10 clusters of 20
respondents per cluster. For the proportional parameters, it would be 20
clusters. If the user wants to get both kinds of information, then
presumably for practical reasons, some sacrifice of precision level will be
required for "Improved Practices" proportions, since it is impractical to go
to 20 clusters for six parameters when only one requires such a large number
of clusters.

Each Option in the program can thus be run several times with
different sets of available information. The users make their own decision,
therefore, as to which sample they find most reasonable and reliable,
knowing that the statistical calculations determining that sample are
correct. This will be described in more detail for each Option.

One note. Since the program is written in BASIC, it is impossible
to introduce some user-friendly features. One major characteristic of the
program that the user should note is that it is impossible to go back to the
line above if the data entered was mistyped and re-type that item of data.
Instead the user should enter all the rest of the data, keeping track of
that error and run the program as usual. At the end of the Option, the
program will ask END PROGRAM (Y/N)? Answer N and then the user can modify
any of the existing information. Without changing either DESIGN PARAMETER
or PRECISION LEVEL, the user should say YES to changing the "PILOT
INFORMATION". This provides a chance to go back and retype the observations
correctly and rerun the program.

Inputing the Data

Option C

The program first asks for information about the population/universe from
which the sample is to be drawn. This will usually be in terms of villages,
communities, administrative units, or districts. The program asks for the
number of such units in the universe, i.e. No. of Clusters? 260.

The program next asks for information about the average cluster size. If a
village this might be 45 or 145. If an administrative unit, this might be
500 or more. I.e. Av. Size of Clusters? 145

Next the user indicates the parameter to be studied: i.e. household income.
The program asks the user to note the number of clusters for which
information is available. If this was on the basis of a rapid appraisal,
the number might be 4 10. I.e. No. of Clusters for which Information
Available? 7

Next the user inputs the number of observations for the first cluster. Did
he/she talk to 5 farmers in that village? Enter 5.

Next the computer asks for the income figures for each of those five
farmers. Enter the income for each observation after the question marks.

Next the computer asks about the observations in the second cluster. Enter
the number of observations and hit the key. Enter each of the
observations at the appropriate question mark.

Continue this process until all the data is entered on all the observations.
This program does NOT allow you to backtrack. If you enter incorrect data
or miss a line, you must start this process over from the beginning. The
computer program will NOT print out the results, so keep a written record of
the figures you have entered.

Once the information has been entered
No. of Observations? 5

No. of Observations? 6
? 34000

And so on.

THEN hit the key again and the program will tell you about the
characteristics of this information. (INTRA-CLASS CORRELATION, MEAN,
The program will now ask you to enter information about the level of
precision that you require for the results of your survey. Here you enter
the precision level desired as an ordinal number ( Precision level is a
statement about how closely you expect your data to cluster around the
mean). Remember that the confidence level is presently set at 95% by the
program itself.:

Precision Level

.05 is 5
.1 is 10
.2 is 20
.001 is 1

You can change this precision level at the completion of the program without
entering your data again and the program will adjust the needed size of your
sample to fit this new precision level.

It will then tell you the optimal sample size you need to test this
parameter. The last step is to enter information about the cost of
collecting information in time and logistics. This set of information will
be used to allocate the required sample size to clusters. The information
about price of a manday is only provided as a service to the user. It is
not used in the allocation of sample to clusters, only the data about time
cost of gathering the data.

No. of days to list elements in cluster:
Travelling time between clusters:
Time required to locate elements (household, farmers) within a cluster:
Time required to conduct survey:
Unit cost per manday for interviewer:

This will result in an allocation of sample size to clusters on the basis of
logistics involved in reaching the cluster and resulting cost of data
collection within that cluster.

You have completed one parameter. You can adjust information for the same
parameter enter new observations, change the precision level desired, or
keep the same observations but change the information about collection costs
and an adjustment will be made by the program. You can run this for the
other quantitative parameters. Or you can end the program and run "D" for
proportional design parameters included in your survey.


A general note: The program in this option will provide the user with a
suggested sample indicating the minimum no. of clusters that should be
sampled to get reliable information about a particular parameter. The
program may recommend that an unpractical number of clusters must be
surveyed. If this is the case, the user should experiment with lower levels
of precision and see if this is more practical and if the lower level of
precision is acceptable to the end-user of the sample results.

REMEMBER: You are looking at a proportion (a ratio) NOT a percentage. I.E.
0.125 OR 1/8 of the population are adopters, NOT 12.5% of the population are
adopters. This will affect how you enter your data. Do not make the
mistake of entering percentages, only enter proportions.

Procedure Option D

The program first asks for information about the population/universe from
which the sample is to be drawn. This will usually be in terms of village
communities, administrative units, or districts. The program asks for the
number of units in the universe, i.e. no. of Clusters? 260

The program next asks for information about the average cluster size. If a
village is the sample unit, this might be 45 or 145 households. If an
administrative unit, this might be 500 households or more. I.e. Average
Size of Clusters? 145

Next the user indicates the parameter to be studied: i.e. proportion of
farmers with private tenure, proportion of adopters of an improved
technology, proportion of families experiencing a food shortage 6 months of
the year or more, etc. This information is keyed in for the user's own

In response to this question, the computer program asks the user to note the
number of clusters for which information is available. If this was on the
basis of a rapid appraisal, the number might be 4 10. I.e. No. of
clusters for which information is available? 7


Next the user inputs the known proportions of households with the parameter
in question. The proportion should be entered as a decimal.

40% becomes .40
35% becomes .35
72% becomes .72 and so on.

1? .40
2? .35
3? .72
4? .55
5? .30
6? .65
7? .44

Once you have entered information on the all the known clusters,-in this
case, 7 villages, hit the return key and the program will calculate the
statistical relationship between these indicative proportions.

The program then requests that you specify the degree of precision required
for data analysis. In most cases, this will fall between 5 and 10%.
For a .05 precision level (5% precision) enter .05, for a .10 precision
level (10%) enter .10.

The program then tells the user how many clusters must be sampled in order
to evaluate the particular parameter in mind. This Option D should be
repeated for each qualitative (proportional) parameter to be studied. The
maximum number of clusters indicated is the optimal sample size.



Center for International
Development and Environment of
the World Resources Institute

Intermediate Technology
Development Group


Participatory RRA training
course to produce village
resource management plans;
2-1/2 to 3-1/2 weeks;
classroom/field work

Training in applied social
science techniques. Courses
vary from 1 week to 1 month


Government technical extension
officers, NGO field staff

Researchers (social science and
technical), project staff
(local and ex-patriate),
internal personnel


Approximately 20 participants
per course; 2-4 courses per

4 courses, with 15 or fewer

Agricultural Extension and
Rural Development Dep't.,
University of Reading, 16
London Road, Reading RG1 SAQ,
United Kingdom

As part of Research, Planning
and Evaluation components of
post-graduate courses leading
to Master's or Diploma degrees.
Training -- tailor-made courses
in extension will include RRA
techniques as part of
communication process.

Extension agents, government
officials. One short course on
Women and Agricultural
Development is aimed at women
with field-level
responsibilities for women's
agricultural extension.

Deutsche Gesellschaft fur
Technische Zusammenarbeit
(GTZ), Grubtt, P.O. Box 5180,
6236 Eschborn, Federal Republic
of Germany

Staff training courses, five
days long

Project staff

1 course per year (potentially







Intercooperation, Agroecosystem analysis (in Swiss-based government and NGO 1 course (about 20
Maulbeerstrasse 10, Postfach collaboration with IIED/IDS); officials, project staff participants)/per year
6724, CH-300, Bern, Switzerland 5 days

GRAAP -- Groupe de Recherche et Involved in farmer-extension
d'Appui pour 1'Autopromotion agent training/participation
Paysanne, B.P. 785, Bobo- for community development,
Dioulasso, Burkina Faso resource management, etc.

International Institute for
Environment and Development
(IIED), London

Institute for Development
Studies, University of Sussex,
Brighton BN1 9RE, United

Training in RRA methods with
stress on agro-ecosystem
analysis and interactive
planning tools.

Workshops held at IDS and
courses for other organizations
on RRA methodology and
development issues.

Development professionals, NGO
officials, project staff, local
planners, government officials,

MPhil students, planners,
government officials,
development professionals,

Negotiable. Courses both in
developing countries and based
in London.

Includes a three-month course
for senior planners taught at

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