Village Planning is an endeavour focusing on people, especially the most vulnerable: the children, the women and the disadvantaged. Fundamentally, the endeavour is a people driven approach to bring about a significant change in the quality of life particularly that of the vulnerable section through people’s participation in their own development efforts.
The approach is initiated through a five-day long exercise in a particular village in the Integrated District by a team of Village Planning Facilitators belonging to identified NGOs/CBOs, usually in groups of three or more depending upon the population size and spread of the village. The Facilitators reside in their allotted village for the entire period living on what the villagers can offer in terms of food and place to stay.
Community dialogue process is the central methodology through judicious application of tools and exercises (such as a simple Household Survey, Venn diagram) for engaging all the people, to discuss and assess their situation – especially their quality of life in terms of health, nutrition, hygiene, education, water and sanitation. Once the people collectively become aware of their situation the search for solutions begins with the Facilitators assisting them with the required information. Once the options are discussed the people then embark upon developing a Village Action Plan that includes ‘what’, ‘how’, ‘who’, and ‘when’. Prompted by the Facilitators the people also suggest the names of four Village Youth Volunteers (ideally, two girls and two boys) to help them in their development endeavour. The Youth Volunteers are subsequently provided with Training Inputs to enhance their skills to walk with the people along the path of village development through access to the services and self-reliance.
The village action plan, however, is not an exercise in isolation, neither an end by itself. Prior to planning, the people discuss what they can do by themselves and in what they would require external assistance. Building a relationship, therefore, based on the notion of partnership with the Line Functionaries such as the Auxiliary Nursing Midwife, Angan Wadi Worker (a worker in the Child Development center), Teacher and the Panchayati Raj Institution (a body for Local Self Governance in India) members also becomes a major consideration during discussion and while planning. The volunteers form a vital link between the people and the line functionaries.
The people take the responsibility of monitoring progress and make corrections as and when required through regular meetings. The volunteers assist the people by providing them with basic information and holding regular discussions related to children and women thus keeping the spirit of self-help alive and thriving.
UNICEF is implementing the village micro-planning in 17 districts across 14 states in India:
Andhra Pradesh - Medak
Assam - Dibrugarh
Chattisgarh - Rajnandgaon
Bihar - Vaishali
Gujarat - Valsad
Jharkhand - E. Singhbhum
Karnataka - Raichur
Madhya Pradesh - Guna, Shivpuri
Maharashtra - Chandrapur, Latur, Nandurbar
Orissa - Koraput
Rajasthan - Tonk
Tamil Nadu - Krishnagiri
UP - Lalitpur
West Bengal - Purulia
Microplanning as a process was introduced progressively in over 1,500 villages in Chandrapur District in Maharashtra over the past five years. The biggest change has been in people’s mind-set. Essentially, the process has infused a tremendous sense of empowerment amongst the community at the village level and brought a new awakening amongst the people to make change happen – on their terms.