Rural appraisal, rapid appraisal, and participatory rural appraisal are terms used for methods of village needs assessment, resource assessment, and evaluation. These terms have generated considerable interest and some confusion recently since a variety of techniques have been used and misused. This article looks at rural appraisal as a category consisting of two methodologies - rapid appraisal and participatory rural appraisal. Different techniques that have been included under both methodologies are described. A design kit section describes how a rural appraisal strategy can be developed for specific situations. The design kit emphasizes flexibility and practicality, and suggests guidelines to insure that the needs identified will result in an action plan to resolve the problems of individuals most directly affected. Examples from rural appraisals conducted by the authors in Pennsylvania, Zimbabwe, Puerto Rico, and Costa Rica are included.
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