In 1992, Robert Chambers, one the most well-known proponents of PRA, described it as "a family of approaches and methods to enable rural people to share, enhance, and analyse their knowledge of life and conditions, to plan, and to act". With this process the people explore their own potential and feel empowered to bring about a change in the current situations by increased coordination and constructive partnerships. That in turn improves the long term sustainability of growth and revitalizes the economic activities.
PRA consists of group techniques like time lines, seasonal calendars, mapping, wealth ranking of households within the community, Venn diagrams of the community's institutional context; transect walks to observe the natural and built environment, and a variety of scoring and ranking techniques that facilitate effective community participation.
PRA has been used extensively to foster community participation in development projects around the world. It helps gathers and reflects on information about communities using approaches and methods that promote deep understanding and local empowerment. It is a tool equipped to enhance communication by building better relationship, increase involvement of people in their area’s future by making them more aware and including them in the decision making process. Such community participation improves the chances that the development projects will succeed by tailoring them to locally relevant situations. Participatory Rural Appraisal (PRA) as the name implies is not limited to rural setting and for appraisal purposes only. This is a set of methodologies which are useful throughout the project cycle.