In 1995 the Government of Tanzania, the University of Dar es Salaam, and the World Bank conducted a Participatory Poverty Assessment (PPA) involving more than 6 000 people in 87 villages across Tanzania. Specific areas on which data were gathered included such indicators as how the poor view poverty, perceptions of inflation and other trends over time, the effects of liberalization on the rural poor, access to and use of formal and informal credit and savings institutions, the role of social capital in household welfare, and the relationship between poverty and the natural environment. The PPA employed methods and tools designed to facilitate 'listening to the poor'. Three basic types of data collection methods were used: participatory tools (such as community mapping, group discussions, and Venn diagrams); key informant interviews; and household survey instruments. Different sampling techniques were employed for the various data collection methods used. The issue of gender was of central importance to the PPA, and significant differences between the perspectives and actions of men and women were documented. Particular attention was paid to the priorities and coping strategies of female-headed and male-headed households. Among the PPA's findings: the importance of agricultural inputs, simple technology, and the inability of the poor to take advantage of markets. The PPA also revealed the inflation in prices in rural areas, the widespread need for rural credit, and people's desire to save. Further, the study found that while many face hardship as a result of cutbacks in government subsidies due to liberalization policies, few advocate returning to subsidies and other practices of the past. Rather, they seek expanded opportunities to improve their livelihoods (through access to transportation to move their goods to market, for instance). Perhaps the most striking finding of the PPA was the contribution of village-level social capital to household incomes. A one standard deviation increase in social capital at the village-level was found to increase household expenditures per person by at least 20 to 30%. By comparison, a standard deviation in schooling of nearly three years per person increased income by less than 5%. The logistics of mounting a PPA are by no means simple, but one can be organized more quickly and produce results faster than a traditional survey based on questionnaires. For this reason, the PPA technique may be very useful for interim monitoring of poverty between major surveys. In the case of Tanzania the aggregate results of the two approaches were very similar. At the same time, the PPA generated more subtle and more detailed findings in a number of areas, and its policy conclusions are therefore more discriminating, and in some cases different, for example on quesitons of social capital, gender, seaonality, and access to water.