chapter  4
18 Pages

Rapid Rural Appraisal: Origins, Rationale and Repertoire

In the early 1970s, through errors and opportunism, I stumbled into unconventional approaches to rural research. It then gradually emerged that practical researchers were innovating and using methods which worked for them but which, since they were not respectable in the mainstreams of their disciplines, they rarely wrote about. An IDS workshop (1978) and conference (1979) on rapid rural appraisal (RRA) brought some of them together. The rationale for RRA was that decision-makers needed the right information at the right time but in rural development much information generated was inappropriate or misleading and was slow to become available. Methods of gathering information were often inefficient. RRA at the time was revolutionary. It sought to avoid the traps of large questionnaire surveys (Chapter 1) and rural development tourism (Chapter 2). The need was for information that was relevant, timely, accurate and usable. RRA flowered especially in Thailand. A wide range of experience and methods, including agroecosystem analysis, was brought together in the 1985 international conference at the University of Khon Kaen.