Rapid Rural Appraisal


A rapid rural appraisal (RRA also known as participatory rural appraisal PRA) is a "quick and dirty" broad-level assessment. RRAs are used to obtain a broad perspective of the community or group being studied, often at the cost of statistical accuracy. An RRA focuses mainly on those key informants most knowledgeable about an area and uses a variety of social science tools and methods, including secondary data analysisobservationGISinterviews, and case study research.


An RRA's strength is its ability to generate an overall picture of the social interactions within a community. In a resource management area this technique can not only be used to obtain a "quick and dirty" picture of the community, but also to identify details such as who the stakeholders are and what influences their decision-making processes. Often RRAs can be used to pinpoint problem areas that might be addressed in more detail with more specialized tools. 


  • Costs less than social impact assessments or social assessments

  • Allows exploration of new ideas and issues through flexible approach

  • Can provide in-depth information quickly

  • Quantifies social aspects related to site

  • Requires minimal amount of use of researchers' time


  • Limited reliability and validity

  • Credibility may be low with decision makers

Expertise Needed

Conducting an RRA may require expert assistance for design, data collection, and analysis depending on the complexity and level of analysis desired. Some levels of a rapid rural appraisal may be completed with available staff.

Related Partners

NOAA is a federal agency focused on the condition of the oceans and the atmosphere. It plays several distinct roles within the Department of Commerce.

Resources: Websites

  • Using Rapid Appraisal Methods
    This general guide compiled by the U.S. Agency for International Development includes an overview of rapid appraisal, including advantages, limitations, and information on some of the more common methods used.

  • Rapid Rural Appraisal (RRA)
    A summary of rapid appraisal. Includes the history of the method as well as both strengths and limitations.