Micro Planning: A tool to empower people

By Anjali Godyal-Group Leader, Projects

Micro-planning is a comprehensive planning approach where in the community prepares development plans themselves considering the priority needs of the village. Inclusion and participation of all sections of the community is central to micro-planning, thus making it an integral component of decentralized governance. For village development to be sustainable and participatory, it is imperative that the community owns its village development plans and that the community ensures that development is in consonance with its needs.
However, from our experience of working with the panchayats (village committee) in Mewat, we realized that this bottom-up planning approach was never followed in making village development plans in the past. Many a times, the elected panchayat representatives had not even heard of this term.

Acknowledging the significance of micro-planning for village development, Sehgal Foundation’s Capacity Building Center organized a week long training workshop on micro-planning for elected representatives of panchayats and Sehgal Foundation’s staff working with panchayats in the villages. The aim of this workshop was to educate the participants about the concept of micro-planning and its importance in decentralized governance system.

As part of this workshop the participants were explained, in detail about the concept, why and how of micro planning; the difference between micro-planning and the traditional planning approaches. To give practical exposure to the participants, a three day micro-planning exercise was carried out in Untaka Village of Nuh Block, Mewat. The objective of this exposure was to show participants how micro-planning is carried out and what challenges may arise during its conduct and prepare the village development plan following the micro-planning approach.

The village sarpanch led the process from the front, and the entire village and panchayat members participated wholeheartedly in this exercise. Participatory Rural Appraisal (PRA) technique which incorporates the knowledge and opinions of rural people in the planning and management of development projects and programmes was used to gather information and prioritize development works. Resource, social and development issue prioritization maps were prepared by the villagers after analyzing the collected information. The villagers further identified the problems associated with village development and recommended solutions for specific problems while working in groups. The planning process went on for two days subsequent to which a Gram Sabha (village committee), the first power unit in the panchayati raj system, was organized on the third day. About 250 people participated in the Gram Sabha including 65 women and 185 men. The sarpanch shared the final village analysis and development plans with the villagers present in Gram Sabha and asked for their inputs and suggestions. After incorporating the suggestions received, a plan was prepared and submitted to Block Development Office for final approval and sanction of funds.

“After the successful conduct of Gram Sabha in our village, we now need to build synergies with the district level departments to implement the plans drawn in the meeting,” said the satisfied Sarpanch of Untka after experiencing the conduct of micro planning exercise in their village.