As a tool both for research and for structuring community-level interaction, Participatory Rural Appraisal (PRA) is now well embedded in development practice. This paper, however, argues that in order to play an enabling role towards community action, facilitators need to offer much more than the traditional PRA approach. Based on work with groups of women and of men in North Bengal, the paper describes how local politics and facilitators’ strategies interact and complicate the use of PRA-like planning approaches. The article stresses the need for effective and long-term facilitation strategies that take into account organisational, methodological, and contextual considerations, and argues that organisations need to invest far more in ensuring the quality of facilitators than is generally the case.
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