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Our Work

Established in 1982, PRIA (Participatory Research in Asia) is a global centre for participatory research and training based in New Delhi. Currently, PRIA has field offices in several states of India and partnerships with 3000 NGOs across the global North and South to deliver its programmes on the ground.

Participatory Research in Asia (PRIA) grew out of engagement in the International Participatory Research Network in late 1970s in several Asian countries as the node for the Asian Regional Network of Participatory Research. It was registered as a non-profit civil society organisation in India under the Societies Registration Act XXI of 1860 on February 6, 1982 to promote social empowerment and economic livelihood of the poor and the marginalised, especially women, through innovative participatory research methodologies. Its programmes on the ground focus on promotion of participation of the poor, especially women and youth, to claim rights and basic services. Its participatory training methodology is used for capacity development of civil society and frontline government functionaries. From the early 1990s, PRIA has shared its participatory methodologies and approaches of capacity development and empowerment of the marginalised with other civil society actors in South and South-East Asia.

Current field interventions focus on:

Ensuring safety of girls and women by creating an enabling environment and removing constraints in the functioning of various public agencies to help prevent violence against girls and women at home, in schools and shopping centres, at workplaces and on the road. Interventions include:
• Kadam Badhate Chalo, the signature campaign which facilitates youth-led campaigns for addressing violence against women
• Providing holistic solutions to business, educational and health institutions and others in compliance with Act on Prevention of Sexual Harassment at Workplace
• Enabling gender mainstreaming in socio-economic development programmes of business, government and NGOs
• Strengthening  capacities of women’s leadership in local government

Enabling effective delivery of basic services in rural and urban areas, focusing on efficient and equitable delivery of water and sanitation. PRIA builds capacities and skills of youth (boys and girls) from urban poor communities to learn new technologies, like GPS and mobile-based surveys, to provide community feedback to municipalities on water and sanitation services. Special attention is paid to involving girls and women to bridge serious gender-based distortions and discriminations which prevent young girls and women in “acting like a citizen”. Interventions include:
• Supporting decentralised planning for implementation and convergence of basic services
• Ensuring inclusive and complete coverage of all households for water and sanitation and Swachch Bharat Mission
• Mobilising citizens’ feedback on water and sanitation services for better targeting in municipalities
• Facilitating inclusive planning for and accountable development of cities, including Smart City

Strengthening local human and institutional capacities that hinder effective and inclusive development of all. Such capacity constraints are particularly addressed in regions of India and countries in the global South which have traditionally and historically been under-developed. Interventions include:
• Promoting learning of participatory methodologies through distance education worldwide (PRIA International Academy) and face-to-face field practice
• Designing and implementing capacity building solutions for public & private agencies to promote inclusive delivery of basic services in district and local government levels
• Advocating re-design of curriculum and teaching methodology in colleges and universities through meaningful community engagement
• Enabling local networks of stakeholders from government, business, community, civil society, media and academia to work together for improving local society

PRIA’s Innovative Methodology and Tools
Developed over more than three decades of practical work in India and internationally, PRIA is widely acclaimed for its participatory methodology. PRIA’s innovative participatory tools are appropriately deployed towards gathering local knowledge, promoting learning and enabling working together of citizens and institutions. Successful original solutions applied locally are scaled-up provincially, nationally and regionally. Practical knowledge generated from such innovations is shared on global platforms through coalitions and consortiums. PRIA also learns from the practices and innovations of others. The essence of such mutual sharing and learning is based on the principles of South-South cooperation.

• Participatory research
• Participatory training needs assessments, participatory training and learning
• Participatory mapping and planning
• Participatory monitoring and evaluation
• Participatory organisational assessments strategic planning and development
• Gender mainstreaming of programmes and institutions, gender audits, safety mapping
• Social accountability tools, social audits and citizen monitoring
• Process documentation and participatory communication
• Participatory advocacy, building networks, coalitions and alliances
• Convening and facilitating multi-stakeholder dialogues and partnerships

Capacity building
Globally, PRIA plays an intermediary role in supporting and building capacities of voluntary organizations. Learning for community-based development professionals is promoted through multi-sector, multi-location training-learning programmes (particularly in the South Asian, Central Asian and South-east Asian regions). PRIA International Academy (PIA) was launched by PRIA a decade ago in order to provide long-term responses for such efforts. PRIA International Academy today has over 2000 alumni from 35 countries. The academy has linkages with several universities in India and Canada for course development, course teaching and internships.

PRIA International Academy also conducts customised learning programmes for staff from civil society organisations across India and the Asian region. In the past year, 10 learners from Save the Children, Bangladesh were enrolled in the International Perspectives on Participatory Research (IPPR) course. International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC), based in New Delhi nominated 14 of its employees for the Participatory Training Methodology (PTM) certificate course.

Regional Support Organisations (RSOs), across India and in other developing countries, have been catalysed to build an engaged community of practitioners and to advocate at trans-national levels. PRIA has long-standing joint collaborations for implementation of projects with civil society organisations in Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Cambodia, Brazil, South Africa and Tanzania. The project on Deepening Local Democratic Governance through Social Accountability in Asia addressed the deficits of democratic practices in urban municipalities in Bangladesh and Cambodia. In particular women were capacitated to form neighbourhood committees and were engaged in citizen monitoring exercises.

Relationships have been built with CSOs in Indonesia, Laos PDR, Vietnam, Myanmar, Kazhakstan, Mongolia, China and Japan. PRIA also acts as the Asian Regional Support Organisation for civil society organisations across Asia, such as the Asian Democracy Research Network, anchored in Seoul, Korea.

PRIA has remained active internationally as an important actor in participatory research, lifelong learning and adult education advocacy through its association with and leadership of Asia South Pacific Association for Basic and Adult Education (ASPBAE) and International Council for Adult Education (ICAE). PRIA coordinated the engagement of southern grassroots voice in monitoring The World Bank’s Participation Policy; and enabled and supported a global coalition of multiple stakeholders to articulate capacity building of Southern NGOs. With colleagues from the World Bank Working Group, PRIA helped organise the initial meetings of what became the International Forum on Capacity Building (IFCB), a forum which advised a wide range of donor and civil society organisations on the nature of useful capacity building activities.  As a founding member of CIVICUS World Alliance for Citizen Participation, PRIA helped to define the conceptual and institutional base for what has become the largest transnational network of civil society organizations. Advocating with government at all levels  results in changes in policies and programme implementation and monitoring. PRIA’s partnership with FIM-Forum for Democratic Governance, Montreal was built on the perspective of Northern and Southern NGOs working together to hold global governance institutions accountable to local communities.

PRIA has spearheaded studies on the challenges of civil society in the new millennium, the non-profit sector in India, and civil society and governance. PRIA was an active member in the Citizenship, Participation and Accountability Development Research Consortium organised by the IDS (Institute for Development Studies). This network brought together researchers from Asia, Africa, Latin America and the UK to study citizenship in more than 20 countries over a ten-year span. PRIA was a member of the LogoLink project on The Right to Participation in Local Democracy: Thinking and Acting Beyond Governance. Civil Society @ Crossroads was a unique collaborative project bringing together six civil society organisations (PRIA, New Delhi; CDRA, South Africa;  EASUN, Tanzania; INTRAC, United Kingdom; PSO, the Netherlands; and ICD, Uruguay) to research the roles, contributions, capacities and resources available for civil society engagement in the 21st century. Learning to understand the challenges to civil society engagement on the ground from 18 countries across 4 continents provided insights into how civil society contributions in different regions of the world can be supported and enhanced. It has supported initiatives in India and internationally to establish mutual knowledge engagements between grassroots and institutions of post-secondary education through community-university partnerships. These efforts gained recognition when the UNESCO Chair in Community Based Research and Social Responsibility in Higher Education was established in 2012, with Dr Rajesh Tandon, Founder-President, PRIA as Co-Chair.


  • PRIA facilitators listen, engage and explain at the level where participants understand and learn through many practical exercises. The best workshop on gender that our employees have attended

    Tsering Youdon
    Program Officer, Swedish Organisation for Individual Relief
    SOIR-IM, Dehradun, Uttarakhand
  • Elected members & officials from Northern Province, Sri Lanka visited PRIA to learn about their exemplary work in developing citizen participation in governance and service delivery. JGU thanks PRIA.

    Prof. R. Sudarshan
    Dean, Jindal School of Government and Public Policy
    O.P. Jindal Global University
  • Undeniably good work done by PRIA. My visits to the communities they work with let me hear grassroots voices and stories...deeply rewarding for my personal growth, work and future research

    Loreen Regnander
    Intern, University of Victoria, Canada
  • PRIA has helped to build a large movement for citizens to use Panchayati Raj Institutions at the local level, to use their leadership, their voice, to bring about democracy from below

    Dr John Gaventa, Director of Research
    Institute of Development Studies
    Sussex, UK
  • Thank you PRIA -- for helping me gain the confidence to speak up. Today, I do not hesitate to speak with the sarpanch.

    Renu Joshi
    ASHA worker
    Hinglaz gali Anganwadi Centre, Siwana Block, Barmer, Rajasthan
  • I have thoroughly enjoyed the privilege of being able to enroll myself in the course…this program has opened my eyes to possibilities for my life which were previously unconsidered

    Tripti Vinita Pal, Alumnus
    Appreciation course
  • I am a third party facilitator for three large institutions but I did not know half the things we have discussed in the Third Party Facilitator Training I attended organized by PRIA

    Joint Secretary of Lakshmi, an NGO
  • Participatory Approaches for Social Inclusion course was undoubtedly beneficial for my research work, providing a deep understanding of theoretical aspects and the applied side of participation

    Pallavi Mishra
    PhD Research Scholar
    Jawaharlal Nehru University
  • We learnt multi-stakeholder dialogue as a tool for advocacy from PRIA…it is a wonderful tool for organising people

    Ashok Kadam
  • I am an example of the Kishori Panchayat Programme which gave young girls the desire to do something, a reason to embrace life

    Kishori Panchayat Member

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