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Rapid Appraisal Methods

usaid.gov

WHAT IS RAPID APPRAISAL?

Rapid Appraisal (RA) is an approach that draws on multiple evaluation methods and techniques to quickly, yet systematically, collect data when time in the field is limited. RA practices are also useful when there are budget constraints or limited availability of reliable secondary data. For example, time and budget limitations may preclude the option of using representative sample surveys.

BENEFITS – WHEN TO USE RAPID APPRAISAL METHODS

Rapid appraisals are quick and can be done at relatively low cost. Rapid appraisal methods can help gather, analyze, and report relevant information for decision-makers within days or weeks. This is not possible with sample surveys. RAs can be used in the following cases:

  • for formative evaluations, to make mid-course corrections in project design or implementation when customer or partner feedback indicates a problem (See ADS 203.3.6.1);

  • when a key management decision is required and there is inadequate information;

  • for performance monitoring, when data are collected and the techniques are repeated over time for measurement purposes;

  • to better understand the issues behind performance monitoring data; and

  • for project pre-design assessment.

    LIMITATIONS – WHEN RAPID APPRAISALS ARE NOT APPROPRIATE

    Findings from rapid appraisals may have limited reliability and validity, and cannot be generalized to the larger population. Accordingly,

rapid appraisal should not be the sole basis for summative or impact evaluations. Data can be biased and inaccurate unless multiple methods are used to strengthen the validity of findings and careful preparation is undertaken prior to beginning field work.

Choosing between rapid appraisal methods for an assessment or more time-consuming methods, such as sample surveys, should depend on balancing several factors, listed below.

• Purpose of the study. The importance and nature of the decision depending on it.

• Confidence in results. The accuracy, reliability, and validity of

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Comments

comment by Michael D. McDonald

We are doing a lot with rapid appraisal in Haiti.  In setting up the Health Capacity Zones to take the top off of the cholera epidemic in those areas of Haiti, we are doing Mission Critical Assessments with 150 questions across 16 different parameters essential to stopping cholera deaths, severe cases, mild cases, and infections.  These efforts have helped the Phase II Cholera Epidemic Management Initiative partners stop outbreaks in areas that the Ministry of Health, PAHO, CDC, the Red Cross and other large institutions have not been able to contain.  The Pestel Outbreak in January is a case in point. 

The key to sustained positive outcomes is connecting the assessments with response and maintenance infrastructures within a Resilience System to ensure sustainability.

Mike McDonald

howdy folks