The Development of the Peoples Planning Process
The People’s Planning Process (PPP) was developed in response to a request from the ADB North East Coastal Communities Development Project (NECCDEP), in 2006 to introduce the Sustainable Livelihoods Approach to improve local-level planning in the North and East Provinces of Sri Lanka. The work was made possible by the GTZ-supported Performance Improvement Project (PIP).
The request arose out of the recognition, by NECCDEP, of the need for a local-level planning approach that would:
- Be inclusive, ensure the meaningful participation of poor and vulnerable groups, and accommodate the different priorities and needs of different groups within communities;
- Empower local communities, and allow them to clearly articulate priorities and needs, both for themselves and for outside agencies and service providers;
- Provide a framework which would allow communities, development agencies and service providers to work effectively to develop sustainable livelihoods for people in coastal communities in the North and East of Sri Lanka.
To address these challenges, a project team worked over the course of the period from April 2006 to March 2008 to develop, test and validate the PPP. This team was made up of staff from the NECCDEP project, Assistant Directors of Planning from the Districts where the project is working, staff from the Planning Division of the North-East Provincial Secretariat; and staff from CIRM (Centre for Information and Resources Management).
The first training introduced staff to the Sustainable Livelihoods Approach (SLA) and identified with them some key areas where the approach could be introduced to their work with NECCDEP. In particular, while analysing the work already carried out by NECCDEP through the “lens” of the SLA, the process leading to the development of Village Development Plans was identified as a key area where the proper application of the SLA could add value to the work already conducted and address concerns regarding the representativeness of the existing plans.
To bring about a positive change in the community planning a process of action research was developed where project staff would develop and practice, step-by-step, the different stages of a “Peoples Planning Process” with facilitators helping them to think through the process, bringing in new ideas and examples of best practice from elsewhere. Between workshops, participants implemented what they had learnt in a few pilot villages in their respective areas and then brought their experience in the field back to the next workshop for discussion and reflection.
Including the initial workshop which introduced the participants to the Sustainable Livelihoods Approach, four training and reflection workshops were held over the course of a 9-month period from April, 2006 to January, 2007. Each of these workshops introduced the participants to a key stage in the process of local-level participatory planning (for more information see the workshop reports).
The Peoples Planning Process
The PPP consists of a series of eight stages that are designed to enable people from across the community to participate equally in the planning process and generate plans that reflect the diverse concerns of different groups of people in the community.These include:
- Preparing for People's Planning;
- Learning about Livelihoods and Livelihood Diversity;
- Building Visions with Common Interest Groups;
- Building Consensus for Community Visions;
- Turning Visions into Reality;
- Preparing the People's Vision Document;
- Celebrating the People's Vision Document and Engaging with Service Providers;
- Monitoring and Reflection.
The material output of the People’s Planning Process is a People’s Vision Document (PVD). The PVD articulates the people’s common visions, outlines the resources and potential that the community has and highlights the areas where the community may require assistance to achieve parts of their visions. Critically, the PVD is a document that belongs to the community and is produced by them and can serve as a guide for them in the future and articulate their aspirations for the future to the authorities, government agencies and service providers.
Following the process development the PPP was pilot tested in over 40 villages in the districts of Ampara, Batticaloa, Killinochchi, Mannar, Trincomolee and Vavuniya. Following a review of the PPP pilot process it is now (as of 2008-2009) being rolled out across the NECCDEP project area in the North and East of Sri Lanka.At the PPP assessment workshop in March 2008, the field-teams reported that the PPP can be applied in a diversity of communities within the North and East with a consistent level of good quality. The field teams reported on the areas where they saw that the PPP was adding value to their processes to community planning. These are included in the tale below.
The Value Added of the Peoples Planning Process
For Service Providers and Enablers
Working with common interest groups Identifying common interest groups through the initial livelihoods assessment, and then working with these groups before undertaking community-level planning, enables the planning teams to build peoples capacity and confidence to participate in planning processes and in the development process that follows.
Focus on contributions of people- Helping people to identify firstly what they can contribute to their visions helps them to mobilise their own resources to achieve development and is a key step in changing a culture of dependency that is often found.
Visions built on strengths Where people build their visions based on their past achievements and strengths they can see that they can have a role to play in achieving those visions. This again is an important step away from a culture of dependency and it gives people and communities confidence in the visions articulated in the PVD.
Simple and accessible tools for field teams The tools used in PPP are designed to enable people from across the community to meaningfully participate and communicate with each other.
PVD developed and celebrated with community (in people’s first language) Just by making the first draft of the PVD in people’s first language is a significant step to building up ownership of the document within the community. Likewise celebrating the document with the community shows their visions are valued and is an important opportunity to link with service providers.
Plans done for community not specific service providers.The PPP generates visions that are specific to the livelihoods within the community and gives service providers a common framework around which they can respond in each community.
Build capacity to participate in development that follows planning For those people involved in the planning process working at different levels and considering their visions and contributions builds peoples confidence and capacity to take a more proactive role in development that follows the planning.
Simple and accessible tools for field teams - In the process of pilot testing, the field-teams have found that other field-staff learn quickly how to apply the tools once they have experienced their use in the community.
Responds to the Government Priority for Livelihood DevelopmentThe PPP and PVD can be an important tool in the integration of rural service delivery from the “7 sisters”.
PVD celebrations Where the PVD is celebrated with the community it is a good opportunity for service providers to build their relationships with the community and identify the ways that they can assist.