Rapid appraisal Methods

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Rapid Appraisal Methods

What are they?
Rapid appraisal methods are quick, low-cost ways to gather the views and feedback of beneficiaries and other stakeholders, in order to respond to decision-makers’ needs for information.
What can we use them for?

  • Providing rapid information for management decision-making, especially at the

project or program level.

  • Providing qualitative understanding of complex socioeconomic changes, highly

interactive social situations, or people’s values, motivations, and reactions.

  • Providing context and interpretation for quantitative data collected by more formal


  • Low cost.
  • Can be conducted quickly.
  • Provides flexibility to explore new ideas.


  • Findings usually relate to specific communities or localities—thus difficult to

generalize from findings.

  • Less valid, reliable, and credible than formal surveys.

Low to medium, depending on the scale of methods adopted.
Non-directive interviewing, group facilitation, field observation, note-taking, and basic statistical skills.
Four to six weeks, depending on the size and location of the population interviewed and the number of sites observed.

  • Key informant interview

a series of open-ended questions posed to individuals selected for their knowledge and experience in a topic of interest. Interviews are qualitative, in-depth, and semi-structured. They rely on interview guides that list topics or questions.

  • Focus group discussion

a facilitated discussion among 8–12 carefully selected participants with similar backgrounds. Participants might be beneficiaries or program staff, for example. The facilitator uses a discussion guide. Note-takers record comments and observations.

  • Community group interview

a series of questions and facilitated discussion in a meeting open to all community members. The interviewer follows a carefully prepared questionnaire.

  • Direct observation

use of a detailed observation form to record what is seen and heard at a program site. The information may be about ongoing activities, processes, discussions, social interactions, and observable results.

  • Mini-survey

a structured questionnaire with a limited number of closeended questions that is administered to 50–75 people. Selection of respondents may be random or ‘purposive’ (interviewing stakeholders at locations such as a clinic for a health care survey).