The Support to Rural Livelihoods and Climate Change Adaptation in the Himalaya (Himalica) programme, in partnership with the Ministry of Agriculture and Forests (MoAF), Bhutan, organized a workshop for the Gups (headmen) and Gewog (an administrative unit consisting of a group of villages) Administrative Officers (GAOs) of the 12 Gewogs and relevant sector heads of Tsirang District, from 8-10 February 2017.
The main aim was to orient participants on a bottom-up, participatory, and community-led micro-planning process that they could apply to projects in their respective Gewogs based on the needs and priorities of their constituencies. The workshop focused on enhancing the capacities of community leaders and stakeholders in preparing micro-plans considering the changing climate, and environmental conditions at the local level for mainstreaming in the 12th Five Year Plan (FYP) of Bhutan (2018-2022).
Dasho Dzongda (district governor) Ngawang Pem formally inaugurated the workshop saying, "The workshop will add value to the ongoing sensitization of community leaders and stakeholders about the preparation of the 12th Five Year Plan (FYP)." She urged all those present to take full advantage of the opportunity that the workshop would offer. Chief District Agricultural Officer and local Himalica Coordinator, Pema Chofil said, “As the Royal Government of Bhutan gears up for the preparation of the 12th FYP, this workshop will provide hands-on training on the use of participatory planning tools to help identify priority developmental and resource management activities based on available resources and practical field experiences.”
The workshop itself focused on smaller sectoral areas at first, and then went onto to focus on bigger, national level concepts. On the first day, the sessions facilitated by the district sector heads from the agricultural, livestock and forestry sectors covered the visions and strategies to be adopted by each sector for achieving key results. The District Environment Officer from the National Environment Commission Secretariat presented an outline of the possible future scenarios for the environment, natural resources, and climate change in Bhutan. The District Planning Officer from the Gross National Commission Secretariat sensitized and oriented the participants on the national key results areas, key performance indicators, key interventions, and strategies for the 12th FYP. Experience was shared from the Himalica pilot site in Barshong on the preparation of community-led micro-plans, the process of involving community people, and identifying resources and associated challenges.
On the second and third days, the participants were introduced to various participatory rural appraisal and planning tools such as community resource mapping, institutional mapping using a Venn diagram, community hazard ranking using the spider web technique, seasonal dependency index, problem tree analysis, pairwise ranking of the problems faced by communities, and community visioning and micro-planning exercises.
Most of the participants agreed that the workshop was timely and relevant as teams comprising of representatives from different sectors of the district will soon visit each Gewog to sensitize local leaders and stakeholders about the 12th FYP. Of the 33 workshop participants, a whopping 90% strongly agreed that the content of the workshop was relevant to their roles and responsibilities as Gups and Gewog Administrative Officers, and 40% felt that they were almost 75-100% certain to use the tools and processes learnt at the workshop in preparing the 12th FYP, whereas 43% said their range of certainty was 50-75%. Given the time constraint, as many as 73% of the participants said that the workshop duration of three days was too short for them to fully grasp the interesting concepts and tools shared.
On the closing day of the workshop Pema Chofil remarked, “The community-led micro-planning workshop was part of the upscaling strategy of the Himalica pilot project in Barshong". He expressed confidence that the elected local leaders and administrative officers were in a much better position to mainstream and institutionalize climate change adaptation and environment-focused community micro-planning in the 12 Gewogs of Tsirang District.