Society for Participatory Research in Asia (PRIA) is an international centre for learning and promotion of participation and democratic governance. Since its inception in 1982, PRIA has embarked on a set of key initiatives focusing on capacity building, knowledge building, participatory research, citizen-centric development, and policy advocacy. With a combination of training, research and consultancy, it has grounded its work with conceptual rigour and understanding of social reality to command the strategic direction of interventions.
PRIA adopts three broad approaches in its ongoing programmes:
First, it intervenes directly in the field primarily in the northern and eastern poorer regions of India, in order to promote 'citizens’ collective voices' to make demands on governance institutions to claim their rights, access services and ensure accountable utilization of public resources in development programmes. In recent years, PRIA's interventions have specially targeted Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Reforms Mission (JnNURM), Community Participation Law (CPL), Right to Information (RTI), National Rural Employment Guarantee Schemes (NREGS) and Urban Basic Services.
Second, PRIA provides on-demand advisory and consultancy services to a wide variety of clients internationally. It utilises its practical knowledge and professional expertise in various areas to offer ‘participatory and sustainable solutions' to improve supply sides of development and democracy.
Third, PRIA offers educational programmes in numerous human and social development themes, drawing from its field experiences, advisory services and extensive research projects. Within the framework of 'learning for social change', these educational courses are offered in distance mode, sometimes specially designed for a client and many times in partnership with such premier educational institutions as Indira Gandhi National Open University (IGNOU), India, University of Victoria (UVIC), Canada and Institute of Development Studies (IDS), UK.
PRIA has worked on issues of promoting participatory methodologies and has engaged itself by working with multiple actors in development. It has promoted participatory democratic governance by working closely with elected representatives, government and civil society groups. PRIA has also undertaken research and capacity building on variety of issues related to strengthening civil society and enhancing participation of marginalised groups and communities in development.
The geographical coverage of PRIA at the national level includes direct interventions in the four states of Bihar, Chhattisgarh, Haryana and Rajasthan. In addition, through its core network of partners the work extends to the states of Gujarat, Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Jharkhand and Kerala. PRIA has also recently initiated interventions in certain Southeast and South Asian countries like Pakistan, Indonesia, Bangladesh, Cambodia, Nepal, Philippines, etc.
PRIA’s vision is of a world where informed, empowered citizens participate in the process of deepening democracy with tolerance towards its large numbers and diversity. These include the marginalised, especially women. Citizens' rights and responsibilities are nurtured through a balance between authority and accountability. A harmony between economic and social development is sought in an eco-friendly manner where local priorities are not sacrificed to global demands. Individual freedom and autonomy is sustained with collective solidarity.
To work towards the promotion of policies, institutions and capacities that strengthens the voices against marginalisation of communities and increase the participation of the marginalised in society. The idea is to improve their socio-economic status through democratic governance. PRIA’s mission is to reach out, through such governance, to everyone in society and to ease his or her participation in the governance process.
PRIA's professional expertise and practical insights in the following areas are being utilised by other civil society groups, NGOs, governments, donors, trade unions, private business and academic institutions around the world:
In its three-decade journey, PRIA has contributed to the evolution and strengthening of many global initiatives: