Tampuen villagers in Ratanakiri, Cambodia, carefully describe their healing methods, which do not correspond to Western medical principles. The VIPP process demonstrates respect for other cultures via dialogue and an interest to learn from each other.
VIPP can be used for planning and implementing development activities at the grassroots. In such processes, local technicians or promoters work with illiterate or marginalized people in suburban or rural areas. Facilitators, in such cases, will employ several techniques which rely on the cultural experience of the group, such as drawings or oral expressions. These may be visualised by the facilitators themselves in the first instance, until local people gain skill in this.
The main constraint in using VIPP at the grassroots level may be a lack of literacy and the poor skills or attitudes of the technicians and promoters to dialogue with the poor. The first problem may be addressed by producing meaningful symbols or pictures to express ideas. However, the second problem is more pervasive. Extension workers are usually educated to think of themselves as superior to village people and it is difficult for them to admit that the people possess valid knowledge, as well as special forms of communicating about it. This is seldom learned at universities or colleges. Extension workers may find it very difficult to switch to more participatory approaches as they are trained to give orders and instructions.
Participatory Rural Appraisal (PRA) advanced in the last decade from its rural focus into Participatory Learning and Action (PLA), which comprises many participatory approaches in all situations of development. VIPP is a complementary approach to PLA. VIPP is a method used by people who read and write, while PLA mainly uses local people's drawings and community discussions, including the involvement of non-literates. The basic philosophy is the same but the audience for both approaches may differ. VIPP may be considered one of the possibilities within the PLA framework.