Date of Award

1995

Degree Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts in Marine Affairs

Abstract

It has become clear to those interested in development that the household is an integral institution linking the individual to the society and the environment. Understanding the functioning of this institution will facilitate improvements in planning, evaluation, and output of development projects. Development projects suffer from a lack of efficient research methods for collecting socioeconomic information regarding the household. It has been proposed that Rapid Rural Appraisal (RRA), a method of field work that is timely, flexible, and places an emphasis on local participation, may be an appropriate method for collecting these types of data. RRA was originally developed for application to agricultural systems, but has recently been offered as an alternation to conventional data collection in other types of environments i.e., the coastal zone. This study assess the reliability of RRA techniques to obtain data on households in the coastal zone of Ecuador. Field work was conducted in four communities utilizing RRA techniques including: key informants, mapping, semi-structured interviewing, direct and participant observation, time line and seasonal calendar. Information collected on households was summarized within the text as well as in data matrices located in Appendices I and II. To assess the degree of reliability of RRA instruments, the author conducted triangulation. Triangulation of collected data involves comparing results of two or more techniques applied to address the same research question. Each variable was assigned a value, 0-3 for T (triangulation), indicating the number of collaborative responses received. From this assessment, an evaluation was made regarding the types of data that may be obtained with RRA, and the individual techniques that were best suited for addressing specific variable types. Results of this study indicate that RRA techniques are reliable instruments for measuring certain variables concerning coastal households. RRA is a method best suited for addressing those variables that can be confirmed through first hand observation i.e., types of coastal resources exploited, and is not appropriate for examining intra-household dynamics i.e., income distribution. It is concluded that this type of household variable requires lengthier periods of field work, characteristic of conventional research methods, rather than through rapid appraisal techniques.