Consensus Building with Participatory Action Plan Development
A Facilitator’s Guide
This guide is designed to:
• • •
Assist consensus building among natural resource users Follow a six stage process for Participatory Action Plan Development Identify problems and constraints, and opportunities to address them
Contributing authors: Ahmed Taha, Roger Lewins, Stuart Coupe, Barnaby Peacocke. With thanks to participants in the Greening Darfur project, funded by Christian Aid.
This guide sets out an approach to community planning that intends to build local consensus to help people manage and improve their livelihood options. The approach is Participatory Action Plan Development (PAPD) – a structured and repeatable set of activities that helps local people identify key problems and constraints together with realistic opportunities to address them. The guide provides a basic explanation of six key stages required to reach consensus on simple livelihoods related initiatives at local level. The purpose, approach and process of each stage is described with reference to specific examples. It is expected that facilitators will follow the sequence outlined in the guide and will understand the purpose of each stage. This structure is useful to maintain consistency between locations and will aid reporting and documentation by the facilitating agency. However, it is understood that facilitators and communities may have the confidence to modify activities and the direction of planning where appropriate. The guide concludes with some general observations and recommendations for expanding the planning process to a wider geographic which might include and benefit additional project stakeholders.
Page. 3. What is Participatory Action Plan Development? 4. How might PAPD be relevant in the project context? 4. What is required to attempt PAPD with communities at village level? 6. The six stages to PAPD 13. Adapting the PAPD approach 15. Working with existing and supportive institutions 16. Documenting PAPD
What is Participatory Action Plan Development?
Participatory Action Plan Development (PAPD) is a consensus building tool that seeks to identify and then solve environmental or livelihoods problems with community support and input. PAPD draws from several participatory techniques and principles. Its key features are: 1) recognising the wide range of stakeholders and their diverse interests in natural resource management and; 2) engaging these stakeholders fully. Over the last nine years the approach has been used in Bangladesh, India, Cambodia and Vietnam to help local people plan in floodplains, forests, coastal areas and cities. Planning and discussion within PAPD is intended to increase the level of understanding of all stakeholders and to help reach consensus on proposed new activities. These agreed activities can sometimes be modest but they will be well thought through, with broad support, and will benefit most local people. In turn, this planning can provide the foundations to address more complex issues such as long-term disputes or conflict. There are numerous stakeholders with an interest in natural resources and associated livelihoods. In any form of planning, it is important to include the full range of relevant stakeholders and appreciate their roles and interests (Box 1). Incorporating the diversity of interests in local planning is not easy but it makes proposed initiatives much more realistic and it can help overcome local disputes or obstacles to development opportunities. At local level, PAPD can achieve agreement for action on simple initiatives and increase mutual understanding and respect. The same principles may also apply to the regional level to path the way for initiatives that might benefit wider areas and larger numbers of people. 3
Any consensus building and planning approach should include both ‘primary stakeholders’ and ‘secondary stakeholders’ Primary stakeholders are those that rely directly on the natural resource base for their livelihoods – people such as settled villagers, migrant herders or part-time fishers, for instance. Different ethnic groups may pursue alternative livelihoods strategies and have differing perspectives and interests. It is also important to remember the range of interests within such groups. For instance, women are often involved in specialised activities and have different concerns and additional knowledge. Secondary stakeholders are those people or institutions that have a less direct stake but also have an interest and role to play in management decisions affecting natural resources and livelihoods. This group includes people like extension agents and the technical bodies and line departments associated with agriculture, fisheries and water, for instance. Local and regional government bodies are also important secondary stakeholders. The UN agencies such as FAO, UNICEF and UNDP are further examples. Secondary stakeholders are very important because their support is needed to turn plans into action. Including this range of stakeholders increases the quality and relevance of local planning. It helps ensure plans are feasible and well-supported and it increases the level of understanding and consensus between the stakeholders.
How might PAPD be relevant in the project context?
PAPD has been used in many situations but in all cases there have been several different interest groups each trying to secure livelihoods. These groups are often interconnected, relying on each other or being affected by the actions of others. There are several factors that increase hardship and that can increase competition between these groups and this can become an obstacle to productive planning and participation. These factors include climate change, other environmental stress, social change (displacement etc.) and political insecurity. Access to water such as irrigated land, pasture or fisheries is often at the centre of these problems. Consensus building through local planning can help people secure more reliable livelihoods by first highlighting and then attempting to address these issues. The same approach will draw in additional supportive stakeholders to represent the interests of larger numbers of people and to participate in plans that might have greater potential and geographic coverage. It is possible for a network of participants to achieve consensus and access support for water management plans within a water catchment area, for instance (see Adapting the PAPD approach). 4
What is required to attempt PAPD with communities at village level?
Very few materials are required to conduct PAPD. It may be necessary to take large flip charts and pens together with notebooks for the facilitators and a community volunteer to record the discussions. A digital camera would be very useful to record any maps and tables generated by the discussion. However, the intention is to focus on discussion rather than the written word, especially if literacy is low. The most important requirements are: 1) a well prepared team of 2-3 facilitators; 2) a suitable venue where discussion can take place comfortably (a school or community building etc.) and; 3) an enthusiastic and representative group of local stakeholders willing to donate their time. The following section discusses the six stages of PAPD in detail. The guidelines are based on the experiences of Practical Action and other organisations in using PAPD within projects at community level. It is important to understand the principle and purpose of each stage in working towards consensus and viable plans, However, the size of the groups, the length of each stage and the type of meetings can be modified according to the purpose of PAPD (see Adapting the PAPD approach).
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