Samarthan has undertaken several initiative to demonstrate decentralised planning. While some of these assignments were carried out on pilot basis with support from bilateral/multi-lateral donors and other donor organisations, Samarthan has recently focused in engaging with the state government in promoting decentralised planning. This has helped in converging the initiatives from different actors and has also helped in spreading the coverage to a larger cross-section of community. Here are some of the key projects related to decentralised planning that Samarthan has undertaken recently:
1. Promoting Livelihood through Micro planning in MPRLP villages
Samarthan is engaged with the Madhya Pradesh Rural Livelihood Project (MPRLP) as the nodal agency for providing handholding support to the staff of the project on decentralised governance and decentralised planning. The MPRLP is a GoMP project supported by DFID. The assignment involves large scale capacity building of government staff, elected representatives and the community members on the process decentralised governance of micro planning.
In the last one year, Samarthan provided capacity building support by developing 80 Master Trainers from MPRLP team on governance and micro planning. Samarthan also supported these master trainers through mentoring and handholding support to further build capacities of 856 Project Facilitation Team (PFT) members and nearly 21500 community members.
Samarthan supports the district teams and PFTs of MPRLP in planning for livelihood based activities in the intervened villages. Over the past one year, Samarthan has been able to provide handholding support to the MPRLP in developing plans in 1872 villages. A lot of emphasis is given on making the plans convergent with the other departments that are working in the village.
2. District Perspective Planning under BRGF
With support from the Government of Chhattisgarh, Samarthan prepared the District Perspective Plans under the Backward Region Grants Fund (BRGF) with Bastar, Dantewara and Koriya districts of Chhattisgarh. Samarthan worked as the technical support unit for planning in these Districts. Under the assignment a District level Situation Analysis was undertaken which led to the development of the District Vision Document. This was prepared in close consultation with all the departmental heads of the district. The vision document was prepared keeping in mind the 7 priority sectors identified by the Chhattisgarh government in line with the planning commission guidelines. These sectors include Livelihood, Education, Health, Power, Infrastructure, Urban Development and Social Security.
Based on the Vision 2020 document for the district, 5 year plans were prepared at the Panchayat and Urban Local Bodies level which was integrated into block and district level plans. Samarthan provided technical support in capacity building of the field investigators (from the line department), data collection and analysing the data. A software was also developed for integrating the plans at the block and district level. Special focus was given on developing the plans so as to converge the activities of different departments together.
3. Rural Decentralisation and Participatory Planning for Poverty Reduction
Samarthan implemented the “Rural Decentralization and Participatory Planning for Poverty Reduction” project in two districts in Chhattisgarh. This was a joint initiative of UNDP, Government of Chhattisgarh and Samarthan. The overall objective of the project is to provide catalytic support and create an enabling environment for decentralization by demonstrating how Panchayats can plan effectively and how the plans can be integrated into a block level plan.
Samarthan implemented this project in 48 villages in Dongargaon block of Rajnandgaon district and Bastar block of Bastar district of Chhattisgarh. This is an initiative to demonstrate an effective model of bottom-up planning where citizens’ aspirations and relevant demand find centrality in the planning, execution and monitoring. The bottom up planning resulted in 17 Panchayats getting national Nirmal Gram award. Various participatory tools and methods were used to make the process participatory. Villagers and Panchayati Raj representatives actively participated in formulating plans for 5 years on livelihood issues.
4. Micro Planning for CGDPRP in Bastar and Churia blocks
Samarthan carried out the intensive micro planning exercises block in 53 Panchayats in Churia block of Rajnandgaon district and 55 Panchayats of Bastar Block of Bastar district with support from the Chhattisgarh District Poverty Reduction Project (CGDPRP). The Government of Chhattisgarh is implementing the CGDPRP project with assistance from The World Bank. The broad objective of the project is to support the rural poor and particularly the poorest of the poor, strengthen and secure their asset base, to improve income generating opportunities and quality of life.
The micro planning assignment required preparation of Gram Panchayats wise micro plan for a Churia and Bastar block. Using various tools and methods it was taken care that the villagers and Panchayati Raj representatives actively participate in the plan formulation. The problems of the area and peoples’ priority in solving these problems were addressed in the Panchayat developmental plan. Based on the findings from the structured set of questionnaires and the tools of Participatory Rural Appraisal (PRA) the team developed a detailed micro plan for a period of 5 years, in consultation with villagers and functionaries of Gram Panchayat. The micro plans were presented and approved in a special meeting of the Gram Sabha.
5. Supporting SPB Guidelines by strengthening village level planning process
In association with UNICEF and the State Planning Board (SPB), Samarthan is working on demonstrating bottom up planning process in two districts of Madhya Pradesh. The assignment includes building capacities of the line department staff in a ToT model. Further the trainers are supported in building capacities of the district and village level functionaries on participatory planning.
Under the assignment, Samarthan is developing an operational manual for the field level functionaries for conducting development planning at Panchayat/ town level. It is also developing a software which would help in aggregating the village and Panchayat level plan at the block and district level.
The assignment would help in demonstrating how plans can be developed at the village and ward level and then aggregated at the block and district level to develop the district level plans. It focuses on strengthening the village planning process in order to develop meaningful plans for the districts.
6. Village level Planning – UNICEF
The village planning process was initiated in the Dongargaon blocks of Rajanandgaon district with the support of Unicef. The program was implemented with an objective of creating awareness leading to empowered communities for action, inclusive planning, implementing and monitoring activities related to children with participation from the most vulnerable sections. It also focused to ensure that the planning is followed by regular community based monitoring in order to ensure that the system responds to the needs of the community by providing timely and quality services.
To develop ownership among the community members, facilitators were identified from within the community and their capacities were built on village planning. The trained facilitators worked in 107 villages to assess the situation related to health, nutrition, education, water and sanitation etc. Data was collected using participatory approaches and it was analysed with the community to develop a village level plan.
These exercises provided opportunities to discuss in-depth issues related to adverse sex ratio, teenage marriages and other behaviours that influence the health related issues of women and children. The participation of village functionaries from different sectors was an integral part in these discussions and that lead to a better understanding and appreciation of the roles and responsibilities of these functionaries and the building of a strong bond between the community and the functionaries. The 5 to 10 day exercises lead to the development of village action plans and the formation of village committees for overseeing and monitoring implementation. Prior to the village planning exercises a day orientation of the local representatives in the blocks was conducted. The orientation imparted knowledge about the roles and responsibility of the Sarpanch during the plan preparation and how social issues could be converged in the Gram Sabha plans.