Wednesday, 26 November 2008

Participatory Rural appraisal (PRA)

When I attended a full day workshop on Participatory Rural Appraisal (PRA) two years ago at the Senate Lecture theatre, University of London; little did I know that the facilitator himself Robert Chambers is the most distinguished figure that has published extensively on this topic and is referred to as the guru of “PRA”. Had I known, I would have paid more attention to his teachings and this would have made my life easier today. I am struggling to read about this PRA now and had to attend other workshop to increase my skills on PRA. Well, what is this PRA? Unless you are someone who is interested in the community and research, this word is probably of no meaning to you and will not affect your life anyway. But for me, unfortunately this is what I have to deal with every day that I will spend in the community; fortunately Prof Chambers has provided guidelines on what is all about and how to conduct PRA. Robert Chambers describes PRA as "a family of approaches, behaviours and methods for enabling people to do their own appraisal, analysis and planning, take their own action and do their own monitoring and evaluation." (Chambers, Participatory Workshops, 2002) The methods are open ended, participatory, and often visual as well as verbal. PRA processes have facilitated the process of development in many contexts, rural as well as urban. According to my reseach project (finding blind children in rural Malawi )and possibly helping them; PRA offers a method of engaging the community to identify where those children are; shed more understanding as to why the don’t come and finally for the community themselves to find ways of identifying (finding) the blind children and making them come to me so that I offer eye services. It seems Robert chambers has given solutions on what I need to do next in Malawi; and fore sure I am about to embark on PRA methods to find blind children in the Southern Part of Malawi. Are you surprised? Well Robert chambers is one of the most quoted authors that you will find on the internet .And if you dont hear his name when you read any paper on PRA methods,I can bet a few dollars with you .If you find a scientific paper on PRA that has not mentioned Chambers or referred to his work in the literature , I promise to bring to your attention at least 300 articles that have referred to him. And I will be writing more and more about PRA methods and blind children; as that is my next area of research. Write now I am looking for someone with PRA expertise who can help with conducting a PRA workshop with my staff in Malawi .But one day you will hear that Dr Khumbo Kalua, the local doc from Ezondweni, Mtwalo, Mzimba,Mzuzu, Nothern Malawi is one of the few medical doctors with expertise in PRA. . As for now are you available to help , or do you want to comment? Email me!

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