Community-led Micro-Planning: Building Capacity of Local Leaders for Participatory Planning in Bhutan, 8 –10 February 2017, Tsirang Dzongkhag, Bhutan

Community-led Micro-Planning: Building Capacity of Local Leaders for Participatory Planning in Bhutan, 8 –10 February 2017, Tsirang Dzongkhag, Bhutan

Bottom-up participatory planning is an ongoing practice within and outside government planning processes in the Hindu Kush Himalaya. Community-led micro-planning begins at the grassroots level. Ideally it influences higher level planning and represents grassroots population in the decision-making process. Many communities have become more vulnerable and face greater risks due to climate and other changes including development interventions driven by outsiders. Community people have few options and limited capacity to cope with and adapt to current and future threats. Most countries in the developing world including Bhutan have recognized this challenge and the need to devise local strategies and solutions through bottom-up participatory planning processes. Community-led micro-planning is part of the strategy of the Support to Rural Livelihoods and Climate Change Adaptation Programme (Himalica) of ICIMOD to ensure the sustainability of pilot interventions by fostering local leadership and people’s participation.

The three-day workshop on community-led micro-planning was organized from 8–10 February 2017 in Dhamphu, Tsirang. The workshop was inaugurated by Dasho Dzongda, Ms Ngawang Pem (district governor of Tsirang). A total of 32 participants including 12 Gups, 12 administration officers and senior planning officer, environment officer, sector heads of agriculture, livestock and forestry and senior forest rangers participated in the workshop. 

The first day of the workshop had an introductory session where the participants shared their expectations and discussed the nature and purpose of the workshop, followed by an introduction of the concept of planning, need for micro-planning and the main steps in the micro-planning processes. Participants were oriented on sector specific result areas, vision and strategies of agriculture, livestock and forestry services by respective district sector heads. The district environment officer shed light on the national scenario of environment, natural resources and climate change. The senior planning officer oriented the participants on national key results areas, key performance indicators, and key interventions and strategies for the 12th Five Year Plan. He explained how the bottom-up planning outcomes are linked to different sectors and contribute in fulfilling national goals, objectives and vision. Impacts of climate change on local livelihoods and the environment as well as the concept of resilience were also discussed.

The second day focused on introducing several Participatory Rural Appraisal (PRA) tools, namely village resource mapping, institutional analysis (VENN diagram), hazard mapping (spider web) and seasonal livelihoods dependency matrix to understand the community’s situation from different perspectives including gender and social inclusion. Depending on the village context, specific tools on gender analysis can be used; however, participants suggested forming separate groups for men and women for each group work to assess the perspectives from gender lens.

On the third day, sessions on problem identification, prioritization and analysis of problems were facilitated to bring the community people into the centre of decision making and address the identified problems through participatory planning. In addition, a community visioning exercise was conducted to help community people come together and discuss how they would like to see their village develop in the future. To achieve a community vision by planning possible solutions to those problems, participants engaged in the process of narrowing down the problems into a set of realistic and achievable activities. Participants were also asked to incorporate the implementation and monitoring mechanism into the community plans by outlining strategies to implement and monitor the activities. As Bhutan gets ready to prepare the 12th FYP (2018–2022) at Gewog, Dzongkhag and national levels, the workshop on community-led micro-planning can help institutionalize the bottom-up participatory planning process and make it people-centered and participatory.

The report was co-funded by the Royal Norwegian Embassy in Nepal.

  1. How good is this research?

    Assessing the quality of research can be a tricky business. This blog from our editor offers some tools and tips.