Emergence of Participatory Rural Appraisal (PRA) Technique as a Strategy towards Sustainable Development: A Sri Lankan Experience

D. N. Koralagama, M. Wijeratne, W. N. De Silva


In this millennium all the development activities are mostly focused on sustainable development, i.e. the development which fulfils the requirements of the present without disturbing the utilization of future generation. Basically, the sustainable development deals with environmental, social, and economical initiations. In relation to these three objectives, community participation plays a key role as an effective strategy for sustainable development. Among the numerous types of participation, Participatory Rural Appraisal (PRA) technique is the most relevant effective method to receive the participation. Because, it has been strengthen by bottom up approach, well defined objectives, practicable solutions, and remedies. Hence, the out come of such an event is most productive rather than a top bottom approach techniques. In fact, a PRA was practiced to develop a strategic plan for tsunami affected village – Bambaranda east, in southern province of Sri Lanka. PRA sessions were carried out during February, 2007 by the Department of Agric. Economics of Ruhuna University, Sri Lanka in collaboration with Japanese Green Resource Agency, Japan.
Participatory mapping, venn diagram, matrix ranking, preference ranking, and pair - wise ranking were demonstrated to gather information from the community. The tsunami affected area, including the paddy fields, four irrigation canals were shown by the group with the help of the participatory map. Preference ranking was resulted the reconstruction of irrigation canals as the most important rehabilitation activity to recover the livelihood of villagers. Intrusion of sea water into the paddy fields was the main limitation revealed by the pair - wise ranking. The second limitation marked as unavailability of enough fertilizer and the dilapidated irrigation canals was the third that has to be solved. Matrix ranking was employed to identify the most facilitated sectors by the government and other institutes in order to detect the areas which need to pay further attention. By that, the community realized that the rehabilitation of irrigation canal is the least benefited area where any development activity should be addressed in order to up grade their livelihood. Finally, a venn diagram was executed to identify the service providing entities in the community. It explored the Agrarian Service Center (ASC) as the most important service providing institute which keeps a close relationship with the community. The second and third places were acquired by Sanasa and Samurdhi office. Therefore, the most appropriate institute to launch any sort of development activity is ASC, Sanasa, or Samurdhi office.
With the light of these exercises, now the funding agency is activating in Bambaranda village by constructing the irrigation canals and also the estuary. Moreover, the implementation was carried out under the supervision of ASC with efficient participation of villagers. In fact, the PRA has given the correct path that would direct towards sustainable development with community participation.


PRA; community participation; tsunami; Sri Lanka

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