Monday, June 04, 2012

Handbook on Participatory Land Use Planning Methods and tools developed and tested in Viengkham District, Luang Prabang Province, Lao PDR

This approach puts the keys of development in the hands of local communities and avoids engaging them into endless assistance programs”; District Governor - Viengkham - 2011

Securing land tenure rights for village communities through participatory land use planning is a hot topic for policy makers, researchers and development practitioners. In Lao PDR, the government policy aimed at turning land into capital may well turn to land grabbing wherever local communities are not informed about their rights and are not involved in land use planning. PLUP is an empowerment process for villagers who get trained as land use negotiators. They learn the real value of their land and labor. The proposed PLUP method helps them to visualize land related issues, to assess the potential impact of alternative scenarios before they make decision.

While local people know well their own situation they often do not know how to collectively design a better future for the whole village through land use planning. ‘PLUP fiction’ is a learning device for land zoning and local development planning. Based on a virtual village territory visualized on a board, members of the village land management committee learn how to make informed decisions about land zoning according to the needs of different stakeholders. Using the method learned during the landscape simulation game, they negotiate their own land use zoning on the 3D model representing their village landscape. They first design their current land use by using colored pins and string on the 3D model. Then, land zones are digitized, analyzed and compared to the needs expressed by the villagers in their village action plan, i.e. village economic development, labor force availability, rice sufficiency, livestock carrying capacity, preservation of ecosystems services.

New land use plans are designed successively until all the committee members are satisfied. The iterative zoning process is facilitated by the use of a GIS software (QGIS) and an Excel based tool. On completion of the PLUP exercise, the 3D model painted with the new land use plan remains with the community.

The purpose of this PLUP Handbook is to provide practical tools and methods for PLUP implementation based on experiments conducted in Viengkham District, Luang Prabang Province. Lessons drawn from this experience have been gradually incorporated into the tools and procedures described in this Handbook and Toolbox as a reference guide for PLUP practitioners.

Publisher: National Agriculture and Forestry Research Institute (NAFRI), Institute of Research for Development (IRD) and Centre for International Forestry Research (CIFOR), May 2012

A short history of the method development

At the end of 2009, a manual for Participatory Land Use Planning (PLUP) was published by the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry (MAF) and the National Land Management Authority (NLMA) to provide a common basis for PLUP implementation in Lao PDR. This manual determined the important principles of PLUP implementation, especially in relation to community participation in the process. A diagnostic study conducted a few months later in a project implementing PLUP along the new guidelines showed that on-the-ground PLUP implementation was still problematic as some tools and methods had not been detailed in the PLUP Manual.

In 2010, participatory action-research conducted by the National Agriculture and Forestry Research Institute (NAFRI, Laos) together with relevant district line agencies (District Land Management Authority (DLMA) and the District Agriculture and Forestry Offices (DAFO) with the support of the Institute of Research for Development (IRD, France) and the Centre for International Forestry Research (CIFOR, Indonesia) led to an innovative PLUP method adapted to the local situation in Viengkham District, with landscapes dominated by subsistence-based shifting agriculture. The main challenge was to insure participation of the villagers and their full understanding of the planning process.

In 2011, through partnership with Agrisud project on food security and rural development the participatory approach was further improved, adding village monograph and Village Action Plan (VAP) as to prepare follow-up extension activities.

Download the handbook.

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