Dixon, Alan B. (2003) The indigenous evaluation of wetlands research in Ethiopia. Development in Practice, 13 (4). pp. 394-398. ISSN 09614524

Participatory Rural Appraisal (PRA), Rapid
Rural Appraisal (RRA), Participatory Learning
and Action (PLA), and a myriad other
terms describing the engagement and participation
of local people have become essential
prerequisites in most rural development projects.
Although in most cases this is to be
welcomed, concerns have been raised
regarding the adoption of participatory
approaches, particularly where these appear
to have been tagged on to a research or
project proposal in order to make it more
attractive to donors. Under such circumstances,
projects that claim to be participatory
may often be nothing of the sort,
either because of the lack of training for PRA
practitioners or because the project was not
designed with the collaboration and participation
of its intended beneficiaries to begin
with. Where a project is primarily research
oriented, a potential problem is that participatory
techniques may be used simply to
extract information from target communities.
Given that there may be pressure to produce
research results and to demonstrate value for
money, the participatory aspect, i.e. the twoway
exchange of information, may be lost
completely. Consequently, capacity building
and empowerment take place only among the
outsiders, while the target community gains
little from the exercise.

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