Advocates can spend years fighting for the adoption of formal policies, only to find that they are not implemented in an effective way, or have unexpected side effects. Communities need tools for assessing how laws on the books are actually working on the streets. Communities need tools for putting what they learn into action.
Rapid Policy Assessment and Response (RPAR) provides a standardized way to conduct baseline rapid assessments of how policies are implemented and what effects they are having The methodology focuses on health and policy implementation at the local level. It is designed to enable communities to find local solutions to policy implementation problems. It is meant to be used by people who do not have training or extensive experience in qualitative research or policy analysis. As a general approach to assessing local level policy and health, the RPAR is applicable to virtually anything, from asthma to health care access.
An interdisciplinary methodology, since its development under the auspices of the International Harm Reduction Development Program, RPAR has been funded by the National Institutes of Health (a three-city evaluation in the Former Soviet Union, and an assessment of IDU social risk associated with AIDS research participation in Thailand and China) and the Gates Foundation (evaluating the impact of sex worker collectives in empowering sex workers and reducing HIV in India).