Participatory Rapid Appraisal (PRA)

An assessment approach that allows communities to give voice to their psychosocial needs, and to play an active part in identifying solutions. The PRA approach, which relies heavily on oral communication for conducting needs assessments, is generally qualitative in nature, and comprises a variety of tools, techniques, and activities that facilitate community membership and participation. Prior to commencement of assessment activities, the aims, goals, and logistics of aproject, including distribution of labor, should be outlined and decided upon by implementing parties. Shortly after, sites for community assessments are chosen. Once sites are identified, specific details of PRA assessments are further discussed and finalized, including any necessary trainings, budgetary proposals, and/or applications for site approvals. With site details finalized, field assessments are conducted using selected PRA approaches. Over time, sites are continually re-visited to gather more information and complete any missing data collection activities. Findings are then shared with communities, national and international governments, and any participating agencies. Because the PRA approach allows for abundant use of creativity, improvisation, and flexibility in designing and implementing assessments, it is rare to find uniformity in its application.

Related Publications

Chatty, D., Crivello, G., & Hundt, G. L. (2005). Theoretical and methodological challenges of studying refugee children in the Middle East and North Africa: young Palestinian, Afghan and Sahrawi refugees. Journal of Refugee Studies, 18(4), 387-409.

Hart, J., Galappatti, A., Boyden, J., Armstrong, M. (2007). Participatory tools for evaluating psychosocial work with children in areas of armed conflict: a pilot in eastern Sri Lanka, Intervention, 5(1), 41-60.

What it measures




Communities living in impoverished, rural, and socially marginalized settings


Robinson, L. (2002). Participatory Rural Appraisal: A Brief Introduction. International Association of Facilitators.