Participatory Reflection and Action

Participatory Reflection and Action is an approach working in partnership with poor communities, providing them with opportunities to apply their knowledge, experience and capabilities to analyse their own realities.

Problems and Purpose

PRA is recognised as a robust [technique] for generating policy insights from case-study evidence. It is based on two essential principles – “learning together” and “triangulation”.

Learning together refers to the approach of working in partnership with poor communities, providing them with opportunities to apply their knowledge, experience and capabilities to analyse their own realities.

Triangulation is about taking advantage of multiple methods and sources of information to cross-check every interpretation and deepen understanding.[1]

Origins and Development

Participant Recruitment and Selection

How it Works: Process, Interaction, and Decision-Making

"As well as an approach informed by certain basic principles, PRA is a “toolbox” of useful techniques for facilitating joint analysis at the local level. PRA tools include a variety of ways of visualising or representing aspects of local reality to promote a rich and revealing discussion among groups of local people. In contrast with the questionnaire approach used in censuses and surveys, the emphasis is placed on an open-ended enquiry in which local people take the lead."

Toolbox includes:

  • "Social mapping, modelling and transects: enables situational analysis of social structures and services. It helps analyse performance/coverage of existing services and also identifies services that are needed but are not available.
  • Natural resource mapping: enables an analysis of the state of natural resources and their use. The dependence of people’s livelihoods on natural resources and the resultant levels of vulnerability can also be analysed through natural resource mapping.
  • Well-being ranking: explores people’s perceptions and criteria of well-being, and enables them to use them to categorise individuals and households in their community. This method allows expression of people’s own definitions of poverty or ill-being and also enables them to identify the worse-off and the well-off in their communities. Discussion on how and why households move, or can move, from one category to another is also possible through well-being ranking.
  • Network and Venn diagramming: examines institutional relationships, linkages and influences affecting local people, households, and community from within and outside their area. Institutions can include government service providers. The method also enables an assessment of the nature of the affect, i.e., whether positive or negative.
  • Seasonal calendars, historical time lines, decades matrix, and daily activity patterns: enables temporal analysis of, and the trends evident in relation to, selected variables. These methods can also enable an understanding of the interlinkage between variables.
  • Preference ranking and matrix scoring: enables comparative analysis and exploration of people’s perceptions and choices based on criteria identified by them regarding a range of subjects from resource allocation to choice of employment.
  • Cause-effect, flow diagrams for systems, and impact diagrams: examines cause-effect relationships, inputs-outputs, and impact."[1]

Influence, Outcomes, and Effects

Analysis and Lessons Learned

See Also

Participatory Poverty Assessment-Pakistan 


[1] "Between Hope and Despair" Pakistan Participatory Poverty Assessment - Federally Administered Tribal Areas Report (2003). Available at

External Links

Challenging the Boundaries of the Possible: Participation, Knowledge and Power