Targeting the Poor in Northern Iraq: The Role of Formal and Informal Research Methods in Relief

The aim of this paper is to examine the usefulness of formal, quantitative data collection techniques for relief operations, using a survey from northern Iraq as a case study. 'Formal' means household questionnaire surveys using statistically representative sampling techniques. In contrast, informal methods are those which use non-random sampling and less structured interviews (or no interviews at all) to gather information on the subject of interest. Rapid Rural Appraisal (RRA) methods epitomise these informal approaches. In recent years these methods have become increasingly popular and are now widely used by academics and development workers alike.