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This paper examines the potential for Participatory Rural Appraisal techniques to contribute to community development and empowerment in a deprived rural community in the Eastern Cape Province in South Africa. A series of participatory workshops was undertaken in which various new techniques were used to identify people-environment relationships and, in particular, the community perception of the value and problems relating to the river and riparian zone. The workshops led to the community taking positive action to address the problems identified. The study indicates the value and role of participatory research among disempowered communities in rural Africa.

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