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Rural rapid appraisal (RRA) is a social science approach that emerged in the early 1980s. A multidisciplinary team employs simple, nonstandard methods and the knowledge of local people to elicit, analyze, and evaluate information and hypotheses on rural life and rural resources relevant for planning action. RRA techniques are an attractive alternative to conventional survey methods because they allow relatively rapid assessment of local knowledge, needs, and community potential with the aim of devising strategies to solve the problems identified.
Participatory rural appraisal (PRA) can be described as a family of approaches, methods, and behaviors enabling people to express and analyze the realities of their lives and conditions, plan for themselves which actions to take, and monitor and evaluate the results. Its methods have mainly evolved from RRA. The major difference is that PRA emphasizes processes that empower local people, whereas RRA is mainly seen as a means for outsiders to gather information. The outsiders act mainly as supporting facilitators, while the local people own and use the results of the study. This enables local communities to assume responsibility for implementing the activities based on such results. PRA methods are successful within the scope of programs that support participatory development cooperation.