CONCEPTS AND DEFINITIONS OF TERMS RELATED TO PARTICIPATORY PLANNING

Here, it becomes imperative to clearly understand the different terms used to indicate some form of participation of the public and their differences so as to use them in a proper context wherever it is used. The following paragraphs attempts to distinguish between commonly used terms in order to arrive at the appropriate term for the purpose of the study of participatory planning process in plan making.

Public participation may be defined as “It is distribution of powers which enables the have-not citizens presently excluded from political and economic processes to be deliberately included in the future. It is a strategy by which the have-nots join in determining how information is shared, goals and policies are set, tax resources are allocated, programs are operated and benefits like contracts and patronage are parceled out. In short, it means by which they can induce significant social reforms which enables them share the benefits of the affluent society” (Arnstein, 1969). Here the author has stressed on the redistribution of power as participation enabling process. Now let’s see some more definitions by some other authors and agencies.

“Participation is an active process by which beneficiary/ client group influence the direction, execution of a developmental project in a view of enhancing their well-being in terms of income, personal growth, self-reliance or any other value they cherish” (World Bank, 1987). Here, participation leads to influencing the decision making process.

“Empowering people to mobilize their own capacities, be social actors rather than passive subjects, manage the resources, make decisions and control the acts that affect their lives. It involves people directly and actively in all stages of the management and decision-making process” (Uganda Project Team, 2007). Here, empowerment of the public is sought after for making public efficient in taking decision and controlling the acts that affect them more often directly.

“Participation is the process through which stakeholders influence and share control over priority setting, policy-making, resource allocations and access to public goods and services” (World Bank, 2000). Here, participation means taking a shared responsibility for controlling and influencing policy making which leads to proper resource allocation and access to serves.

“Participation is a voluntary act that occurs when people become conscious of the value of participatory action and deem it desirable to become involved in the different activities undertaken in participatory project or initiative” (Wiesenfeld and Sanchez, 2002). Here, authors feel that participation is a voluntary action and depends on them to decide to what extent they should participate in the development initiatives.

The term community participation had been in use for a long time and this refers to a limited number of participants ensuring efficiency of participation. Here, we will explore the views of some of the authors and World Bank on the term community participation.

“Community participation as the process by which individuals, families and communities assume responsibility for their own welfare and develop capacity to contribute to their own and community’s development” (Oakley and Marsden, 1984). Here, different individuals or groups on their own resume responsibility for the development of capacity and finally contributing to the development of the community as a whole.

“Community participation is a process through which community groups help advance their interests and the greater opportunity for it the greater the chance of making improvements in living condition” (Sandhu, 2005). Here, the author talks of a practical approach to the development initiated and advanced by the community themselves.

“Community participation is a process through which stakeholder’s influence and share control over development initiatives and the decisions and resources which affect them” (World Bank, 2000). World banks talks of the sharing of the control over the development initiatives and decision making by the way of the involvement of the stakeholders.

Participatory planning has been in practice for a long time in the field of the urban planning. There have been a number of interpretations of the same term by different authors and organization/authorities involved in policy framing. Here, we will explore the different connotations of the term participatory planning as professed by various authors.

“Participatory planning is a set of processes through which diverse groups and interests engage together in reaching for a consensus on a plan and its implementation” (RTPI, 2001).The Royal Town Planning Institute of London sees participatory planning a set of processes for consensus building.

Collaborative planning is a method designed to empower stakeholders by elevating them to the level of decision-makers through direct engagement and dialogue between stakeholders and public agencies, to solicit ideas, active involvement, and participation in the community planning process (Innes, Judith, Booher and David, 2000). Modified form of the participatory planning is collaborative planning and it stresses on the engagement of various stakeholders for reaching atconsensus.

“Participatory planning is the initial step in the definition of a common agenda for development by a local community and an external entity or entities” (Olthelen, 1999).In the article on Participatory Approaches to planning for Community Forestry, author defines participatory planning as initial steps for deciding common agenda for the development.

“Participatory Planning depends not on some virtuous ‘good planners’ but on struggle and hard work, insight and imagination, moral sensitivity and political perception too” (John Forester, 1999). Here, authors feel that there is something more than the thinking of virtuous planners which leads to the practice of participatory planning.

Participatory planning can be defined as joint actions of local people and professionals with the objective of formulating development plans and selecting the best available alternatives for their implementation of the plan for the development of the community and society at large.

Participation of the citizen is enabled by the social and political system of the country and the local bodies which are primary players of the game of the development. In this regards the concept of the local self-governance becomes a ray of hope.

“Local self-government is essentially the empowerment of the people by giving them not only the voice, but the power of choice as well, in order to shape the development they feel is appropriate to their situation. It implies maximum decentralization of powers to the elected bodies to function as autonomous units with adequate power, authority and resources to discharge the basic responsibility of bringing about ‘economic development and social justice”(Sen Committee, 2001).

In 2007, the term Local Area Plans was included in the MPD – 2021 stating it as a plan for ward/sub-zone. Zonal Plans also stated in their preamble that indication of uses other than residential and facility corridor shall be undertaken at the stage of Local Area Plans.

“Local Area Planning is … for addressing the unplanned and illegal urban development … By combining neighbourhood-level data with stakeholder participation … to reform Delhi’s entire building byelaw system including procedural, planning and building performance components” (USAID, 2009).

“Local area plan is by definition a plan based on the local needs and characteristics. Thus, it requires framing area specific objectives” (MCD, 2005).

“Local area plan means the plan of a ward/sub-zone to be prepared by the concerned body” (Review of Draft MPD, 2007).

“Local area plan means the plan of a ward/sub-zone of existing built up areas where redevelopment/ renewal/ rejuvenation etc. are to be done with public participation to achieve the ultimate goal of planned development at the macro level” (DDA, 2008).

From the above definitions of the local area plan it becomes clear that it is a local level planning by local urban bodies in a participatory manner. It has always been the responsibility of top managers who prepare project proposals and plan interventions to the stage of implementation, without consulting those whose very lives are to be affected by such projects. As a result, such plans are usually considered donor/government driven and hence the intended beneficiaries do not take full responsibility for the process and outcome. The communities do not feel part of the process, which leads to limited sustainability after the expiry of such projects or interventions.

“The bottom-up planning process involves extensive opportunities for community participation, surveys, focus group convened at neighbourhood level, active interest of city’s youth, public hearings and public awareness campaign” (Wheler and Beatley, 2004). Bottom up planning is a methodology that seeks to involve communities in the planning process right from the inception of the project idea, risk assessment, and through proposal development to project implementation.Strategic planning is long term planning. Closely related to the overall goals of the response and focusing on policy priorities. This concept of planning, given the fact that resources are scarce, requires that its priorities and objectives yield maximum benefit and impact.

It is assumed that citizen participation is a desired and necessary part of participatory planning mechanism. As Spiegel (1968) noted, “Citizen Participation is the process that can meaningfully tie programs to people.”In time, many of the urban settlements began to grow and expand, both numerically and economically. This made it increasingly difficult for every citizen to actively participate in all community decisions. To fill this void in the decision making process, people began to delegate their involvement to a representative, either directly or through a community group. Examples of this delegation were seen in the establishment of our system of selecting officials by public elections, and the increase of volunteer associations and organizations.  In spite of the fact that direct citizen participation has declined, ample opportunities for citizens to get involved in their community’s destiny. Let’s understand:

a)    The importance of participation.

b)    The conditions under which citizens will participate

c)    The approaches to involving citizens in community improvement programs and projects.

Citizen participation can be viewed from the perspective of benefits to be gained and costs to be borne. Some of the benefits that participation can provide are as follows:

a.    The citizen can bring about desired change by expressing one’s desire, either individually or through a community group.

b.    The individual learns how to make desired changes.

c.    The citizen learns to understand and appreciate the individual needs and interests of all community groups.

d.    The citizen learns how to resolve conflicting interests for the general welfare of the group.

e.    The individual begins to understand group dynamics as it applies to mixed groups.

Additional reasons could be cited to emphasize why citizens should participate in community decisions. However, the case is rested with these. In summary, decision making that is delegated by others will not always be in the best interest of an individual and his or her neighbors. Community betterment is a product of citizen involvement.

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