Govt. of Assam has started the process of institutionalizing the participatory Gaon Panchayat Development Planning Process under the title “AMAR GAON AMAR ACHONI” “OUR VILLAGE OUR SCHEME”. Effort is to prepare an integrated / holistic integragated gaon panchayat development plan through direct participation of rural people
Strategy has been developed to capture the felt need of the people in a participatory manner every year on campaign mode. Please Refer Amaar Gaon Amaar Achoni(Mission Mode)
Objective of the planning campaign is to institutionalise a participatory planning process at the grass root level by involving different stakeholders through different Participatory Rural Appraisal (PRA) exercises to capture the felt needs and requirements of the rural masses before presenting them in the Ward Sabhas and Gram Sabhas. Assam is one of the states in the country that came up first with the state specific guidelines for preparing the Gaon Panchayat Development Plan. The process and steps proposed in the guidelines were tested and validated at the field level with Gram Panchayat members, frontline workers, SHGs and villagers. Every step included in the guidelines were finalised after discussing with the different stakeholders in the field. In accordance with the State Guidelines, Planning Manual on Gaon Panchayat Development Plan (GPDP) was prepared both in English and Assamese languages. Every step in the preparation of the plan was tested in the field before incorporating in the manual. The whole process has been rolled out by SIPRD, Assam.
Many preparatory works have been done before preparation of Guidelines and Planning Manual. Development of each chapter of the planning manual through field validation process to identify the best possible approach and methods in the local context. The institute also developed more than 13000 Resource Persons, Field Facilitators and Mentors for the entire process. The institute imparted training to 117888 persons in 1889 courses covering different clientele groups during the year. This process has been undertaken on campaign mode for 30 – 40 days in each of the 2200 GPs of the state covering 22000 wards or villages. Massive campaigns for awareness building among rural masses have been taken up in each of the 22000 villages / wards of the panchayats. The GPs arrange procession, by cycle rally, motor Cycle Rally, street Play etc. for creating the awareness among peoples. Field level participatory exercises for situation analysis and collecting of secondary information are taken up with the exercises like, Social mapping and resource mapping, Transact walks, Seasonal diagramming, Van Diagramming, Pair wise ranking matrix, Focus group discussions. These are simple exercises done by rural people to express their felt need.
Focus Areas of Development
The broad areas covered in the situation analysis are infrastructure and civic amenities, Education, Housing, Health, Agriculture, Social security, Public distribution system, Social network for vulnerable groups, women and children, other marginalised sections. Door to door Household surveys are also conducted for collecting basic information. After the participatory exercises ward level draft status reports are prepared. The ward level draft status reports were placed in ward sabhas for prioritization and approval. The GP level status report is prepared by consolidating the approved ward level draft status reports and placed in the Gram Sabhas for prioritization and approval. The finalisation of the GP level plan is done as per the recommendations of the Gram Sabhas and available resources. After Project preparation, appraisal and approval by project expert committee the implementation of the plan stars.
Four Working Groups have been formed in each GP which act as the GP Plan Facilitation Team. The groups are - (a) Agriculture and allied sectors, (b) Poverty reduction and employment generation, (c) Health, education, Sanitation, drinking water and Nutrition, Women and Children, (d) Infrastructure and basic amenities.
Though the preparation of the gram panchayat plan has been taken up this year only response from the rural masses is indeed encouraging. Significant development observed are :
- Rural masses have been exposed to participatory approach of development more particularly planning with annual flow of resources into the GPs. Villagers have now realised that planning is their right – they can plan for their own development by mobilising resources from different sources. Villagers have also realised the importance of nature bounty / common property resources for human development and accordingly prepare plan for their meaningful utilisation.
- People have become too possessive about the plan they have developed and started tracking the progress through participatory implementation and monitoring. They have enjoyed the process for identification of the problems along with their solutions leading to problem specific budgetary allocation. Most of the problems are related to health, education, drinking water, sanitation, nutrition, development of women and children etc.
- Participatory Rural Appraisal exercises done by the rural people highlighted mostly location specific problems and issues having a direct bearing on human development. This has helped to analyse disparity in the availability of basic amenities in different areas of the villages.
- Door to door household surveys also captured household based information relating to inter household disparity as far as human development is concerned.
- Different stakeholders involved in the participatory planning process including the facilitators for doing participatory exercises have formed the social capital for human development.
- Problems that remained dormant for long including problems relating to the development of women and children have come up due to massive participation of rural women in the process. Problems are relating to: Livelihoods, Toilet, Drinking water, Health Problem, Malnutrition, Child labour, domestic violence and women and children related crime.
- Multiple steps of the planning process has given chance to rural people to participate meaningfully. Participation in the Gram Sabhas has increased many folds. Panchayati Raj Institutions and departments have come closer to the people. This convergence has enhanced mutual understanding and raised the awareness level of the people about different programmes.
- This has also helped in proper identification of the problems and their meaningful solutions in sectors like drinking water, sanitation, health, development of children etc. Before introduction of participatory planning process plans were only infrastructure intensive, now they are human development intensive. Peoples participation in Ward Sabhas and Gram Sabhas increased as multiple issues can now be discussed in these sabhas with active participation of different stakeholders.
- Large number of grass root level community based organisations, social activists, women organisations have got a chance to participate in the planning process. They have started guiding rural masses in prioritization of the problems and their subsequent implementation. Active participation of grass root level women organisations / SHGs have ensured inclusion of their issues in Gaon Panchayat level plans – all the issues are human development related. All sectoral committees at the grass root level for human development have become active and accountable.
- People mobilised themselves around different issues and problems and created a pressure group for their solutions.
- Some problem relating to health, sanitation, safe drinking water and other social issues found solution through awareness camps, health camps etc. without any further support from schemes and programmes. Villagers have started taking responsibility for operation and maintenance of assets already created.
People and panchayats in Gram Sabhas have identified certain activities to take up on own initiative during GPDP process. Some example:
- Separate Health camps for children and baby.
- Domestic animal treatment camps.
- Identification of dropout children and reasons behind for taking special initiative to put them bank in the school.
- Adult literacy sessions in the evening.
- Women adult literacy camps by involving educated SHG members.
- Mobilising rural people against domestic violence and other crimes against women.
- Identification women in distress for rehabilitation.
- Special training camps on changing mindset of rural youth for development.
- Talent hunting competition in the broad field of culture and sports.
- Identification of differently abled persons for rehabilitation.
- Identification of aged persons for taking special care.
- Legal awareness and guidance camps.
- Special drive for prohibition of liquor as a part of GPDP and imposition of find in case of violation.
- Children Gram Sabhas for identification of problems relating to children for inclusion in GPDP.