Solution Exchange – Bhutan
Query: Methods for Integrating Planning, Implem entation and
Monitoring at the Geog and Dzongkhag L evel – Experiences; Advice
Compiled by Sonam Lhaden , Resource Person and Saraswati, Research Associate
Issue Date: 22 October 2008
From Sonam Tshoki , Dzongkhag Administration , Thimphu
Posted 22 July 2008
Bhutan’s development approach is people centered development with Gross National Happiness (GNH)
playing a vital role. One of the key strategies to operationalize the approach of GNH into a result -based
and people -centered approach is to devolve development activities including designing, planning,
monitoring and evaluation, and budgeting at the geog (block) and district level.
However, the main issue at the geog level is the lack of technical and human capacity to participate
effectively in the development activities. There is also a need to instill a sense of ownership and
participation in the development activities by the community. Additional ly, the bottom up approach shall
ensure effective and efficient use of the government resources for local development.
Against the above-mentioned approach and challenges, I would like to request the network members to
share experiences both within and ou tside the country:
• Effective planning and implementation of community development programs at the local level
• Strategies for monitoring and evaluation of the local development programs
• Ideas and advice on strengthening the sense of community ownership of the local development
I am working at the district level and your inputs will assist me in strengthening the program planning,
implementation and monitoring at the grassroots level.
Responses w ere received, with thanks, from
1. David Seddon , Critical Faculty, U nited Kingdom (Response 1 ; Response 2 )
2. Chado Tenzin , Food and Agriculture Organization of United Nations (FAO) , Thimphu
3. Phurpa Thinley , Freelance Field Researcher, Thimphu
4. Tshering Dolkar , Sheyeon Consultancy, Thimphu (Response 1 ; Response 2 )
5. Sangay Norbu , Dzongkhag Administration, Zhemgang
6. Ngawang Chophel , Dzongkhag Administration, Tsirang
7. Tashi Penjor , Policy and Planning Division, Ministry of H ome and Cultural Affairs,
8. Dawa Tshering , Dzongkhag Administration, Pemagatshel
9. Tshering Pem , United Nations Development Program (UNDP) Bhutan, Thimphu
10. Purna Chettri , Renewable Natural Resource - Research Centre, Mongar
11. Kencho Namgyal , United Nations Children’s Fund ( UNICEF), Thimphu
12. Thinley Wangchuk , Renewable Natural Resource - Research Centre, Mongar
13. Sonam Tobgay , Independent Consultant, Thimphu
14. Lekey Wangdi , Dzongkhag Administration, Haa
15. Alexandru Nartea , United Nations Children’s Fund ( UNICEF), Thimphu
16. Nim Karma Sherpa , NYCOM Consultants, Thimphu
17. Shiriin Barakzai , SNV Bhutan - Ministry of Works and Human Settlemen t, Thimphu
18. Niralal Rai , Department of Roads, Thimphu
19. Marry Otto -Chang , United Nations International Strategy for Disaster Reduction
20. Karma Dupchu , Dzongkhag Administration, Samdrup Jongkhar
21. Hans van Noord , Sustainable Land Management Project (SLMP) NSSC, Ministry of
22. Chencho G yalmo Dorjee , Governance Unit, UNDP/UNCDF, Thimphu
23. Passang Dorji , Dzongkhag Administration, T rongsa
Further contributions are welcome!
Summary of Responses
Responses in Full
Summary of Responses
Responding to a query on strengthening program planning, implementation an d monitoring , members
highlighted the issues related to the limited capacity and resources at the dzongkhag and geog levels to
implement and monitor programmes . They also explored the lack of coordination among implementing
agencies at local levels, and the bottlenecks in local public expenditure management procedures and
prioritization procedures .
Respondents informed that according to Bhutan’s 10 th Five -Year Plan the current planning process is
entirely “bottoms up” in approach and uses a Result-Based Management system. Nevertheless, they felt
there was room for improvement and highlighted some of the major obstacles that exist at the planning
and implementation stage.
Members raised concerns regarding the poor participation of locals in the process , a nd mentioned
specific cases of poor participation , limited time for consultation and prepar ation of the plan, inadequate
human capacity in terms of skills required for implementing planned activities within the allocated
resources. These issues, they argued makes monitoring and evaluation even more difficult.
Additionally, documents such as the “Decentralization Outcome Evaluation Report , “Challenges of
Decentralization in Bhutan: Financing Lo cal Governance ,” and “Challenges of Decentralization in Bhutan:
Coordination and Human Capacity ” were shared that provided further insights into the challenges faced in
the process of decentrali ze planning in Bhutan. Members also suggested looking at the Sustainable Land
Management Project implemented by the Ministry of Agriculture for lessons on ways to strengthen
institutional and community capacity for anticipating and managing land degradation .
Contributors pointed out that “effective implementation ” has to start with “ effective planning ” and
stressed the importance of involving community members in the planning and implementing their
development programs , this they felt would:
• ensure identifi cation, preparation and design of projects based on the ground reality and criteria of
the inhabitants themselves , and
• promote and supports self -reliance and sustainable development , to ensure effective and efficient use
of government resources .
Members further emphasized the importance of transparency in terms approval of plans and budgets,
to ensure they are approve or not approved non-approved for genuine reason s, and that planners explain
modification s of plans/policies in appropriate forums. As such, they suggested that geog officials could
facilitate community planning.
However, at the same time respondents argued the planning guidelines necessitate strengthen ing so that
the facilitator remains unbiased in guiding communities in the planning proces s. They also pointed out
that clear indicators, without any confusion regarding the definition are necessary during the planning
process to make the evaluation and monitoring process easy.
Suggesting strengthening the local capacity , members advised that resources for this must come
from the central government ’s budget. If funding from the central government is inadequate, the national
economic policy planners need to explore ways to increase the resources available at the national level by
ensuring a dyna mic and growing economy and while maintaining the current level of taxation. An
alternative is to review the tax system to determine ways to generate more internal revenue for
government use. Additionally, discussants felt the capacity of local communities could be strengthened by
focusing on building its expertise in planning and monitoring .
Another recommendation for improving the process of planning, implementing and monitoring at the
local level, was to produce desegregated data by effective ly analyzing the existing data. This would
establish a baseline for sub-national planning and monitoring activities.
Members also advised creating a computer system for integrating all the plans and laying out strict
criteria and indicator s for monitoring the impa ct of implemented activities .
Other suggestions made by respondents were:
• Establish more rural financial institution to encourage poor farmers to form g roups and set up small-
scale cottage industries
• Allocating enough time to discuss with communities an issue-based plan and regularly reviewing the
plan to discuss implementation, progress and issues
• Prepare donor project documents taking into account ground realit ies so it fits the local environment
• Streamline the role of the Geog Administrative Officer, so they are employed in a productive manner
and prioritize the develop their capacity
• Review the budgeting and financial procedure s to overcome the current lapses
• Clearly spell out the roles and responsibilities at the central, district and local levels
Recommending effective strategies for M&E of local development programs respondents stated
that monitoring and evaluation ( M&E) needs to be incorporated into all stages of a program. They thus
recommended reviewing the current system that uses different r eporting formats from every organization
involved . For example, the M&E manual and system s developed by the Gross National Happiness
Commission (G NHC), Department of Public Accounts, Department of Budget and other agencies could be
integrated to come up with one reporting system. Another alternative was developing a participatory
monitoring and evaluation method for feedback from communities on implementation.
Members also offered a number of suggestions for strengthening the sense of community ownership
in the local development process . They looked at the system where communities contribute “free
labour” designed to inculcate a sense of community “ ownership ” into the local development process.
While the principal is excellent, members felt that it contradicted the poverty reduction strategy since the
laborers are not paid and the time spent providing free labour too much .
Discussants thus stressed preparing plans based on the true needs of people to instigate a sense of
commitment, ownership and accountability. In the case of limited financial resources, members pointed
out communities need to prioritize their plans , not external groups/organizations. One mechanism
respondents felt might help in promoting and strengthening com munity ownership is establishing
Community -Based Organizations (CBO) , which would give communities the autonomy to mobilize
resources to carry out their plans and a mechanism for participation to ensure they implement their plans
Finally, members stressed that decentralization of responsibility must be matched with the allocation of
adequate resources - material, human and financial. They also emphasized the importance of recognizing
that “bottoms up planning, top down support ” is necessar y along with political commitment to enable
policies to achieve their intended results.
Strategies for Prioritising Activities (from Ngawang Chophel , Dzongkhag Administration, Tsirang )
Districts are following an entirely bottoms-up approach to planning based on participatory guidelines. The
districts provide guidance on the eligibility of the proposed activity. For example, a proposal for a Basic
Health Unit (BHU) depend s on size of population of a geog and the requirement to avail the Out -Reach
Clinic depend s on distance from BHU. These mechanisms have helped locals to prioritize their activit ies.
Strengthening Institutional and Community Capacity (from Hans van Noord , Sustainable Land
Management Project, National Soil Survey Centre, Ministry of A griculture, Thimphu )
For the last two years, the Sustainable Land Management Project (SLMP) worked closely with the geogs
and chiogs developing action plans. Participatory action plan s were comp iled at the chiog level and then
integrated into a geog plan ensuring the awareness of all chiog representatives of the activities brough t
forward by other chiogs. So far, the SLMP has complied 47 chiog plans int o three geog plans. Read more
From Tashi Penjor , Policy and Planning Division, Ministry of Home and Cultural Affairs, Thimphu
Empowering the Poor
Naga an old city in Philippines experienced sluggish economy and scarce employment. The local
government came up with innovative programs . It used economic growth to provide the resources for
and sustain the implementation of social development program mes leading to better quality of life and a
better city. This ranked one of the top 40 best practices during the Habitat II Conference. Read more
Off Port Alegre 's total population, 13% is poor. Participatory Budgeting (PB) i ntroduced as a way to start
to overcome the infrastructure gap between rich areas and poor areas. PB achieve d the incorporation of
marginalized people and communities into the political process and allowing these citizens the right to
decide (and not only to be heard) on where to invest scarce resources . Read more
10 th Five Year Plan (from Ngawang Chophel , Dzongkhag Administration , Tsirang , Dawa Tshering,
Dzongkhag Administration, Pemagatshel, Tshering Pem , United Nations Development Programme
Bhutan, Thimphu )
Draft Plan ; Royal Government of Bhutan ; Gross National Happiness Commission ; Thimphu; February
Available at http://www.pc.gov.bt/fyp_details.asp?ID=11&DzoID=1
Provides details of the implementation and monitoring aspects and the planning process of the
Plan, and highlights the main elements and features of the result -based management structure
Empowering the Poor: Key to Effective Pro-Poor Services (from Tashi Penjor , Policy and Planning
Division, Ministry of Home and Cultural Affairs, Thimphu )
Paper; Naga Ci ty Government ; ADB, ADB Institute and UNCDF ; Manila, Philippines ; 2004
http://www.adb.org/Go vernance/Pro_poor/Urban_case/PDF/Empowering_the_Poor.pdf (PDF, Size: 209
Study on a participatory approach to empower the poor, making them partners in the process of
creating the program, making policies, implementing , and assessing impact
Giving Voice to the Grassroots Movements and Infrastructure for the Poor: The Experience of
Porto Aleger's Participatory Budgeting (from Tashi Penjor , Policy and Planning Division, Ministry of
Home and Cultural Affairs, Thimphu )
Paper; by Celina Souza ; Centre for Human Resources, Federal Univesity of Bahia (Brazil) ; ADB, ADB
Institute and UNCDF ; Manila, Philippines ; 2004
Available at http://www.adb.org/Governance/Pro_poor/Urban_case/PDF/Brazil_paper.pdf (PDF, Size: 216
Case study on a movement which succeeded in inserting marginalized people and communities
into the development process- giving them the right to decide where to invest scarce resources
Mongar Dzongkhag Rural Access Pl anning Report (from Tshering Dolkar , Sheyeon Consultancy,
Report; by Leki Wangdi ; Dzongkhag Administration, Mongar ; Royal Government of Bhutan ; June 2006
Available at http://www.mongar.gov.bt/docs_new/39.pdf (PDF, Size: 1.40 MB )
Area base plannin g report assisting Bhutan's districts to identify access needs of local
communities to enable planners to prioritize interventions
From Tshering Pem , United Nations Development Programme Bhutan, Thimph u and Sonam Tobgay ,
Independent Consultant, Thimphu
Millennium Development Goal s in Bhutan
Report; UNDP Bhutan ; Thimphu
Available at http://www.undp.org.bt/mdg.htm
Discusses how B hutan is focusing on poverty reduction & achieving the Millennium Development
Goals during the process of developing the 10th Pla n by engaging in community participation
Rapid Impact Assessment of Rural Development
Study; Gross National Happiness Commission ; Royal Government of Bhutan ; Thimphu ; November 2007
Available at http://www.gnhc.gov.bt/publications/RRDIAR2007.pdf (PDF Size: 17.82 MB)
Emphasizes the adoption of “inclusive” pro -poor planning methodologies and targeted
Population and Housing Census 2005
Report; Office of the Census Commissioner ; Royal Government of Bhutan ; Thimphu; 2005
Available at http://www.nsb.gov.bt/publication/pubs/PHCB2005.pdf (PDF, Size: 27.9 MB )
Comprehensive geog-based socio -economic profiles , mainly sourced from the 2005 Census that
supported effective planning, implementation and monitoring of the data collection process
Bhutan Living Standard Survey 2007
Survey; National Statistics Bureau ; Royal Gov ernment of Bhutan ; Thimphu; 2007
Available at http://www.nsb.gov.bt/publication/pubs/blss2007.pdf (PDF, Size: 901 KB )
Can be used as baseline for planning, implementing and monitoring activities at the sub -national
Poverty Analysis Report 2007
Report; National Statistics Bureau ; Royal Govenrment of Bhutan ; Thimphu; 2007
Available at http://www.nsb.gov.bt/publication/pubs/par2007.pdf (PDF, Size: 484 KB)
Contains data for effective analysis for effective planning, implementation and monitoring process
at the block level
From Chencho Gyalmo Dorjee , United Nations Development Programme/United Nations Capital
Development Fund Bhutan, Thimphu
Local Government's Act
Act; Royal Government of Bhutan ; 2007
Available at http://www.pc.gov.bt/publications/lga/English.pdf (PDF, Size: 5 48 KB)
Determines people's participation in the development and management of their social economic
and environmental wellbe ing through the process of decentralization and devolution of powers
Decentralization Outcome Evaluation Report – Bhutan, 2005
Report; UNCDF, Danida, SNV, JICA, Helvetas and SDC ; Thimphu; 2005
Available at http://www.undp.org.bt/Governance/dec_OER.pdf (PDF, Size: 912.4 KB )
Highlights l essons learned as well as challenges with regard to integrating planning,
implementation and monitoring at the geog and dzongkhag level
Challenges of Decentralization in Bhutan: Financing Local Governance
Paper; UNDP Bhutan ; Thimphu ; July 2005
Available at www.undp.org.bt/Governance/docs/Financing%20Local%20Government.pdf (PDF, Size: 245
Highlights some of the main challenges and opportunities with regard to financing geog and
dzongkhag development in terms of planning process
Challenges of Decentralization in Bhutan: Coordination and Human Capacity
Paper; UNDP Bhutan ; Thimphu ; Thimphu; July 2005
Available at www.undp.org.bt/Governance/docs/Coo rdination%20and%20Human%20Capacity.pdf (PDF,
Size: 51.5 KB )
Outlines some of key challenges involved in the national decentralization process , especially
regarding coordination and human capacity developmen t at the geog and dzongkhag level
2004 Manual for the Implementation of Dzongkhag Yargay T shogdu (DYT) Chathrim, 2002
Manual; Royal Government of Bhutan ; Lhengye Zhuntshog ; Thimphu; 2004
Available at http://www.mohca.gov.bt/forms/2DYT.pdf (PDF, Size: 446 KB )
Guide to implement ation for the district development committ ee to ensure effective
decentralizatio n at the district level
2004 Manual for the Implementation of the Geog Yargay T shogchhung Chatrim, 2002
Manual; Royal Government of Bhutan ; Lhengye Zhuntshog ; Thimphu; 2002
Available at http://www.mohca.gov.bt/forms/3GYT.pdf (PDF, Size: 424 KB )
Guide to implement the local d evelopment committee for effective decentralization proces s at the
Zhapto-Lemi Chathrim (from Kencho Namgyal, UNICEF Bhutan, Thimphu )
Act; Royal Gov ernment of Bhutan ; Thimphu; 1996
Available at http://www.oag.gov.bt/images/acts/Zhapto -Lemi%20Chathrim.pdf (PDF, Size: 20 KB)
Ensures communities are involved and have sense of ownership in the development process
through free labour contributions
Recommended Organizations and Programmes
Gross National Happiness Commission (GNHC) , Thimphu (from Sonam Tshoki, Dzongkhag
Administration, Thimphu and Tshering Pem , United Nations Development Programme, Thimphu )
Post Box 127, Thimphu ; Tel: 975-2-325192/321053/325741/325850 ; Fax: 975-2-322928;
Formulates development strategies, coordinate s sectoral activities, policies and programmes
ensuring timely implementation as per the specified objectives and priorities
United Nations Development Program (UNDP) , Thimphu (from Tshering Pem and Chencho
Gyalmo, UNDP Bhutan, Thimphu )
G.P.O Box 162, United Nations House, Thimphu ; Tel: 975-2-322424/322498 ; Fax: 975-2-322657;
email@example.com ; http://www.undp.org.bt/governance/projects/00034995.htm
Supports Bhutan in governance, within the areas of decentralization and local governance that
involve local participation, such as in the planning process
Ministry of Panchayat Raj , Government of India , India (from Alexandra Nartea , UNICEF, Thimphu )
First Floor, Room No. 136 Sardar Patel Bhawan India; Tel: 91-23746560 ; Fax: 91-23369074 ;
Ministry%20of%20Panchayati%20Raj ; Contact Mr. P. K. Kesavan Director; Tel: 0091-
26193639/9868858478 ; firstname.lastname@example.org
Has experience with participatory techniques in planning, monitoring and evaluation of
programmes at the grassroots level
Bhutan Power Corporation , Thimphu (from Kencho Namgyal, UNICEF Bhutan, Thimphu )
P.O. Box 580 Thimphu ; Tel: 975-2-325095-6; Fax: 975-2-322279; http://www.bpc.bt/?page_id=49
Implements the Rural Electrification Project engaging communities in the implementation of the
project by paying community members for their labour
Ministry of Agriculture , Thimphu (from David Seddon , Critical Faculty, UK and Chado Tenzin , Food
and Agriculture Organization in United Nations Bhuta n, Thimphu )
P. O. Box 252, Thimphu; Tel: 975-2-323765; Fax: 975-2-323153;
In collaborati on with GNHC has prepared decentralized planning manual and conducted a social
and economic impact assessment of the farm road program in rural Bhutan
From Ngawang Chophel, Dzongkhag Administration, S amdrup Jongkhar and Chencho Gyalmo Dorjee ,
UNDP/UNCDF, Bhutan, Thimphu
Netherlands Development Organisatio n (SNV) Bhutan, Thimphu
P. O. Box 815, Thimphu ; Tel: 975 2 322732/322900 ; Fax: 975 2 322649 ; http://www.snv.org.bt/
Working towards harmonization and alignment of programmes to support fiscal decentralization
through capacity building of stakeholders for planning, implementation and monitoring
Helveta s Coordination Office , Thimphu
P.O. Box 157 , Dungkar Lam , Thimphu ; Tel: 975-2-322870/323209/327103 ; Fax: 975-2-
Supports capacity development of Gups, Mangmis, clerks and the geog accountants in the
districts to strengtheni ng the local participation in the planning process
Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) , Thimphu
P. O. Box No. 217 Doy -bum Lam, Above Memorial Chorten, Thimphu ; Tel: 975-2-
322030/3218/8074/ 4571; Fax: 975-2-323089; http://www.jica.go.jp/english/countries/index.html
Supports fiscal decentralization with capacity building in planning, i mplementation and monitoring
activitie s at the geog and dzongkhag level
Austrian Coordination Bureau , Thimphu
Motithang, Thimphu ; Tel: 975-2-323-331; Fax: 9752-322-813
Takes initiative to support fiscal decentralization with capacity building in planning,
implementation and monitoring
Liaison Office of Denmark , Thimphu
P.O. Box 614, Thimphu ; Tel: 975-2-323331; Fax: 975-2-322-813;
Takes initiative to create an enabling environment to enhance participation in local planning and
United Nations Capital Development Fund , USA
Two UN Plaza, 26th Floor , New York, NY, USA ; Tel: 1-212-906-6565; Fax: 1-212-906-6479;
Engaged in supporting th e decentralization process Bhutan since 1997 with support for block
grant funding and improved planning and budgeting
From Hans Van Noord , Sustainable Land Management Project (SLMP) National Soil Services Center,
Ministry of Agriculture, Thimphu
World Bank , USA
1818 H Street, NW, Washington, D .C. 20433 USA ; Tel: 1-202-473-1000; Fax: 1-202-477-6391;
Supports the Sustainable Land Management Project in Bhutan engaging the communities in the
Global Environment Facility , New York
304 East 45th Street, FF -956, New York, NY, 10017 USA; Tel: 1-212-906-5039; Fax: 1-212-906-6568;
Engages communities in its various projects that s upports the Sustainable Land Management
Project in Bhutan
National Soil Services Center , Thimphu
P.O Box: 907, Simtokha, Thimphu; Tel: 975-235-1037/235 -1174; Fax: 975-235-1038;
Coordinates and implements the Sustainable Land Management Project that supports bottom-up
planning approach - community priorities and community decisions
Recommended Communities and Networks
Decentralization Community , Solution Exchange India , New Delhi (from Sonam Lhaden
http://www.solutionexchange -un.net.in/en/Decentralization/introduction.html ;
se-decn@solutionexchange -un.net.in . Contact Tina Mathur ; Research Associate ; email@example.com
Community of practitioners addressing challenges faced regarding political, functional,
administrative & financial decentralization, including sectoral decentralization and privatiza tion
Related Consolidated Replies
Methods for Integrating Planning, Implementation and Monitoring at District Level , from
Suraj Kumar, UN Resident Coordinator's Office, New Delhi (Examples; Experiences ).
Decentralization Community , Water Community and Work and Employment Community , Solution
Exchange India . Issued 8 July 2008
Available at http://www.solutionexchange -un.net.in/decn/cr -public/cr -se-decn-wes-emp-03060801 -
public.pdf (PDF, Size: 468 KB )
Highlights the issue of convergence of resources at the district level recognized by the
government of I ndia and UN to produce results in national development goals
Responses in Full
David Seddon , Critical Faculty, U nited Kingdom (response 1)
This is an issue of crucial importance. The decentralization of re sponsibility must be matched with the
allocation of adequate resources, human, material and financial, and must recognize limitations in
capacity at lower levels. In some cases and to some extent capacity can be increased, at individual,
household, local c ommunity and geog levels by training and support, but in the last resort, it may have to
be recognized that the devolution of responsibility can be taken only so far without imposing
unacceptable levels of responsibility and burdens on local people.
In my view, the dzongkhag should remain the key level at which technical expertise is located. The
dzongkhag could then be viewed as the major source of technical expertise, providing services to geogs
and local communities as required. Certainly the capacity a t geog level for planning and decision making
should be strengthened, if possible, and the allocation of specific dzongkhag personnel to work at the
level of the geog and in collaboration with the geog development committee (GYT) should continue as
present (e.g. agricultural field staff) and even be reinforced.
But in my view, there should be no romantic illusions about developing technical capacity at geog level
beyond a certain level. Ordinary people already have sufficient demands on their time and reso urces that
additional demands risk increasing their burdens unacceptably. For example, the current idea that routine
maintenance of farm roads should be undertaken by local voluntary labour, in my view risks imposing an
unacceptable burden on local people and also risks inadequate levels of maintenance. Many experts are
now suggesting that such labour should be paid. The issue then is where will the funds come from, the
local community, the geog or the dzonghkhag?
Recent experience in six dzongkhags indica ted to me that dzongkhag level personnel are overburdened
and require additional resources, human, material and financial, to do what they need to do. It is at this
level, in my view, that there should be real strengthening. The resources for this must com e from central
government budgets. If these are inadequate, then national economic policy must consider how to
increase the resources available at the national level. One is simply to ensure a dynamic and growing
economy and simply maintain the current lev el of taxation; another is to review the tax system so as to
be able to generate more internal revenue for government use.
Chado Tenzin , Food and Agriculture Organization of United Nations (FAO) , Thimphu
You have raised an important query. Ministry of Agriculture (MOA) and Gross National Happiness
Commission (GNHC) have jointly prepared a Decentralized Planning Manual largely focusing on
mainstreaming food security concerns into plans and planning system. They are yet to conduct training
for members of the district planning facilitation teams on the use of the manual. You could contact Nidup
Peljor, Deputy Chief Planning Officer of MOA for details.
Phurpa Thinley , Freelance Field Researcher, Thimphu
One key strategy for better planning at local level from my experience... Community
(beneficiaries) participation is very crucial for an effective planning at local level. This approach ensures
identification, preparation and design of projects based on the ground reality and criteria of the
inhabitants themselves. When plans are prepared based on the real needs of the people , a sense of
commitment, ownership and accountability is naturally instigated in people’s mind and a ction. This
promotes and supports self reliance and sustainable development thus taking care of effective and
efficient use of the government resources.
Tshering Dolkar , Sheyeon Consultancy, Thimphu (response 1)
I agree with Chado that you have raised an important query. It is something that is well recognized in
our country with the technical and financial support of international organizations. Nevertheless, let us
also admit that there have been practical challenges in the use of such a system in our country.
In this regard, I wish to inform that the IFAD Project in eastern Bhutan (Project Office - Khangma)
follows a results -based planning and monitoring system. I know that Dzongkhags and Geogs have been
trained in the use of the system. However, how well it has been functioning, whether it has been
integrated successfully with the national system, and challenges faced by the users is something that
could be found out from either the Project Office ( firstname.lastname@example.org ) or the Ministry of Agriculture
(Policy and Planning Division). I think it helps to learn about challenges faced by users of an existing
system before embarking on building another one.
Sangay Norbu , Dzongkhag Administration, Zhemgang
As a civil servant working in dzongkhag administration, I truly believe in your opinions. Their Maje sties
the Kings have truly understood that concept, whereby they came up with institutional forum to voice out
the peoples' concerns and desires. Dzongkhag Yargay Tshogdu (DYT) and Gewog Yargay Tshogchung
(GYT) and parliamentary democracy are some of the n oble steps that our country has taken so far.
While the decentralization policy is in place challenges faced are in implementation. As such, it is
essential to strengthen the capacity of our geog leaders. One basic tool required for them are
implementing planned activities within the allocated resources. The other alternative is to appoint and
train our graduates for the position of gups, mangmis etc. like the Geog Administrative Officers. This
would then make the devolution process much easier for the gov ernment. Meanwhile, the dzongkhags
fairly have the technical and human capacity and further strengthening would really help the government
to achieve good governance system. Then the three – tier government functioning will be in tune with
each other to se rve our people better.
Tshering Dolkar , Sheyeon Consultancy, Thimphu (response 2)
From the short experience I have had in participatory planning, monitoring and evaluation in particular
reference to an a griculture project in the east, I have the following thoughts to share with you (not an
expert view, though). I hope you find them useful or helpful, at least in terms of reflecting on the idea
Given that we have had a decentralized system (thanks to His Majesty the fourth King) long before the
establishment of democracy in our country (yet again a gift from our benevolent King). We can proudly
claim that community people have participated in development planning for a long time. So, the issue is
not that we did not have such a system. The question is: “Did we do it the best possible way? If not, why
not?” How actively did people participate and on what basis? What tools were used, and how effectively,
to ensure that there was true participation? An d, what is really meant by ‘participation’? Is it 10 out of
100 voices that matter in such a scenario or the mere physical presence of 50 or more out of 100? How
long are we going to go on saying that there is lack of capacity at the geog level? What about the
capacity at the meso and macro levels? How competently have we been able to bring out the
participatory spirit of the community people? ( Back to the question of ‘tools’ and their effective use ) Has
that role been devolved to the geog level in the true sense of ‘decentralization’ and ‘bottom up
approach’? The final question: “Where is the problem really? At the micro, meso or macro level?” It’s
really a chain action, isn’t it?
I agree wholeheartedly that sense of ownership comes from participation, bu t if a major chunk of the
budget is still in the control of the financer the true meaning of ownership is eventually lost. And, when
ownership is lost who cares about implementation? Whose responsibility then? Who is accountable to
whom? However, I do also see the point that there has been misuse of budget and perhaps this is partly
because of lack of sense of ownership on top of the so called natural human temptation. It is perhaps
also because of lack of sense of value for not having had to mobilize resou rces for their development
So, where do we stand then? What can we do, given the above scenario? Suggestions that I would offer
are as follows. However, let me caution you that I cannot pass these as guaranteed. They’re based
merely on my o wn reflections, rather than successfully tested and proven practices.
‘Effective implementation’ has to start with ‘effective planning.’ For community development programs, it
is the community that has to plan and implement. In our context, community planning would have to be
facilitated by the geog officials and this strongly implies that there has to be repeated geog level
technical capacity building efforts. Such efforts are a huge step towards devolution of planning role to
geog and community level . And, as far as I see and understand, this is the status we (Bhutan) are in
What needs to be recognized and philosophized is “ Bottom up planning, top down support with political
commitment, enabling policies, adequate budget and other resources ”. If plans or budget are not
approved, the reasons have to be genuine and shared transparently with the community. If there is a
requirement to change or modify policies, have that expressed in appropriate forums. And, then, of
course, the issue of ‘prioriti zation’ which works wonders when there aren’t enough budgets to fulfill all
needs. However, it is not external groups/organizations that should prioritize for the communities but
rather the communities themselves if we are serious about sense of community ownership. One
mechanism that I feel might help in promoting and strengthening community ownership is through
Community Based Organizations (CBO). This also means giving them the autonomy to mobilize resources
to carry out their plans. I believe there is g reater strength in ‘collectivism’ than ‘individualism’ among
particularly rural communities who we know is disadvantaged in many ways. We are at a development
stage where ‘areas’ (infrastructural) need to be developed in order for individuals to be able to gain
access to equal opportunity. Development of areas means a common goal for all beneficiaries. You are
perhaps familiar with DRAP (Dzongkhag Rural Access Plan), which is basically area based planning in
consultation with communities. ‘Consultation’ is only one form of participation and perhaps the most
appropriate in certain aspects of planning, such as in area development.
Once every individual has access to equal opportunity for individual development, collectivism is
something that one can lean on for support from time to time. Then, we can safely say that every single
individual is truly prepared to take on the responsibility for one’s own development towards gross
national happiness. We can then say that we are truly democratic with a full unders tanding of our rights
as well as responsibilities. Often times, we tend to over emphasize ‘rights’ and totally forget
‘responsibilities.’ Our newly formed parliamentary democratic framework gives communities greater
advantage of exercising their responsibi lities on the basis of their legalized right to decision making.
So, Sonam, there are opportunities galore. It is up to us to use them to the best advantage. Like you
stated in your mail, “ Bhutan’s development approach is people centered development with Gross National
Happiness (GNH) playing a vital role .” Opportunities again…
To further ensure effective implementation of local development programs, ‘monitoring’ as well as
‘evaluation’ are said to be best delivered through participatory methods. This promotes transparency and
empowerment, thereby promoting accountability and responsibility. In order to make this work, the
crucial thing is to have targets set by the communities themselves in collaboration with other
stakeholders in the true spirit of pa rtnership. Given the limited capacity at our community level, this
would have to be facilitated by geog or dzongkhag officials or national/international experts. But, the
exercise must be designed in a way that ensures capacity building among the
dzongkhag /geog/community level program implementers for sustainability into the future. In a sustained
situation, local development may be perceived to be community driven gradually, ensuring optimum
For monitoring purpose, participation of communities w ould essentially mean learning from beneficiaries
themselves about the progress of the program through periodical interactions followed by reports (that
may be filled in by the geog officials), in turn followed by responsive actions that will steer the pro gram in
the desired direction. A tradition of reporting on the progress ensures greater chances of improving
performance because it directs focus on issues. After all, monitoring is all about diagnosing problems and
taking remedial measures during the proc ess of program implementation. At this stage, we ask ourselves
“How are we doing?” And, we know that we can never have a perfect plan that’ll work because of many
unforeseen or unprecedented factors. We need to be prepared for that.
Whereas, evaluation m akes a judgment on how well the program has performed in terms of attaining the
results and benefiting the beneficiaries with measurable positive impact in their lives. So, predetermining
those results in measurable terms is crucial for evaluation.
In a n utshell, my advice to you is to think of planning, implementation, monitoring and evaluation as a
package rather than separate bits. The more holistic and comprehensive the planning, monitoring and
evaluation system the better chances for participation of all stakeholders and congruence among all
aspects of the program. In a technologically advanced world and need for greater efficiency through time
effective methods, building a computerized system (whether EXCEL or ACCESS) seems like the only best
option. No longer can we make excuses.
Ngawang Chophel , Dzongkhag Administration, Tsirang
As per my experience working at Dzongkhag level planning system, let me share with you the current
During the 10 th Plan preparation process, the planning officers at the Dzongkhag were trained and briefed
on the preparation of the Plan and also provided with the guidelines. The overall theme for the 10 th Five
Year Plan is to reduce poverty, and we were di rected to frame a plan based on Result Based
Officials from all sectors in the dzongkhag visited the geog to brief the Gup, Mangmi, Gyeldrung, Tshogpa
on the policies and guidelines for result oriented approach. This involves identifica tion of activity as per
the priority of the community and keeping in line with the result chain i.e. output, outcome and impact.
In this respect, planning process is fully bottom up where the people from the geog based on the
guidelines participate in the planning process. The sector staffs provide support in the planning process
particularly on the eligibility of the proposed activity. For instance, proposal for a Basic Health Unit (BHU)
would depend on size of population of a geog and the requirement to avail the Out Reach Clinic would
depend on distance from BHU. These mechanisms help the locals to prioritize their activity. We even use
SWOT analysis to develop strategies.
However, time allocated for finalizing the plans by the planning officer and sect or officers for further
submission to the Gross National Happiness Commission is limited . Also the consultation and
preparatory plan meeting last for only two days with the public and rest is done at Dzongkhag level.
This I feel is not feasible to prepare a good realistic plan within a short period. Therefore, I would like to
recommend on providing more time for preparation and finalization.
Implementation and Monitoring
The Planning Unit coordinates to prepare the Annual Work Plan (AWP) with the Sector H eads and the
Geog Administrator. The AWP is prepared in consultation with the Engineers for the capital works due to
lack of technical people. The consultation of Engineer is mandatory to prepare AWP for timely completion
and quality finish. Most of the ca pital works are carried out on contract basis except, those that involved
community labour contribution such as construction of mule tracks, suspension bridges, community
primary schools and out reach clinics. The materials for such infra structures are pr ovided by the
The implementation of plan activities at Geog is to be done by the Gup and Geog administrative Officer
(GAO). Since the geog lack technical capacity, the tendering and work related to technical requirement is
done by the Dzongkha g Engineering section. In addition, engineers visit the site frequently to provide
support in terms of technical know -how.
The Monitoring of the work is done by Geog administration, if the work is under their plan. The
Dzongkhag engineers and the sector heads also visit the site of construction to monitor if the work in
progress is as per the plan (if the work is carried on contract basis) and as per the AWP of respective
sector. The extension staff is also directed by their sector heads to monitor the wo rk if the work is related
to their sector.
With respect to the community ownership, for farm roads the SNV Khangma initiates in forming and
sensitizing the user association, where they are fully responsible in taking care and maintenance of the
farm road. I am not practically involved in the meeting for formation of user association. However, the
record keeping of financial progress is done by the planning unit as per the financial expenditures and
documents every capital and current works. The physical pr ogress has also been recorded as per the site
visit and the completion report from the sector heads and the engineering section.
I would be glad to learn further through this medium of exchange the planning and monitoring system at
our level from the expe rtise of Ministries, GNHC and International experts.
Tashi Penjor , Policy and Planning Division, Ministry of Home and Cultural Affairs, Thimphu
Here are two case studies from Brazil and Philippines relevant to the issues you have posted:
1. Giving Voice to the grassroots movements and infrastructure for the poor: The Experience of Porto
Alegre’s (Brazil) participatory budgeting available at
http://www.adb.org/Governance/Pro_poor/Urban_case/PDF/Brazil_paper.pdf (PDF, Size: 216 KB).
Participatory budgeting in Porto Alegre has achieved in inserting of marginalized people and communities
into the political process and allowing these citizens the right to decide on where to invest scarce
2. Empowering the Poor: Key to Effective Pro –Poor Services available at
http://www.adb.org/Governance/Pro_poor/Urban_case/PDF/Empowering_the_Poor.pdf (PDF, Size: 209
KB). The case s tudy shows how Naga City's participatory approach energized its urban poor transforming
them from mere beneficiaries of a shelter program to empowered partners who took part in crafting the
program, making the policies, carrying them out, and assessing the ir impact.
Dawa Tshering , Dzongkhag Administration, Pemagatshel
At the Dzongkhag level, we usually go in line with the bottom -up approach of planning. The Community
Leaders discuss with the people and come up with the planned activities. Although, the major problem at
the geog level is absence of technical and human capacity, the Dzongkhag do provide required technical
backstopping in planning, budgeting and implementation. However, the lack of adequate human
resources even at the Dzongkhag level retards this process too. This results in the delay of
implementation of most of the plan activities and the monitoring of activities through out the geogs also
becomes really difficult.
To be pragmatic, Pema gatshel Dzongkhag is viewed as one of the least developed Dzongkhags in the
country. Only two out of eleven geogs are connected by roads. On the contrary, the Dzongkhag has
potentials for producing lots agricultural products and religious articles like the dhungs (oboe) and jalings
(horn). In such a case, the people have come up with lots of plan proposals in the 10 the Five Year Plan
(FYP). We are sure that we will have so many major activities like construction of roads, schools, Basic
Health Units, Geog Center, Renewal Natural Resource (RNR) centers, etc., in the 10 FYP. Even at the
moment, due to increased number of activities, the effect of limited human resources is immense.
In view of this, we, at the Dzongkhag level feel that in order to have an eff ective planning,
implementation and monitoring, the supply of adequate human resources to the Dzongkhag and
geog level is essential and urgent. Only with this alternative, it is expected to increase the capacity of
planning, implementation and monitoring a t the Dzongkhag and geog level.
Similarly, I feel that other Dzongkhags in the country would be sharing similar experiences with regard to
planning, implementation and monitoring of development activities.
Tshering Pem , United Nations Development Program (UNDP) Bhutan, Thimphu
I support Dawa’s submission that the provision of adequate human resources at the local level is
essential for effective planning, implementation and monitoring. However, this is not enough. The
capacity to undertake results based planning as is now being emphasized in Bhutan is equally important
along with the production and use of desegregated data for planning, programming and monitoring.
Given the Royal Government focus on poverty reduction and the achievement of the Millennium
Development Goals http://www.undp.org.bt/mdg.htm during the 10 th Plan, the need to em phasize
further on the adoption of “inclusive” pro -poor planning methodologies and targeted interventions needs
to be underscored (Refer the Rapid Rural Impact Assessment Study - November 2007 undertaken by the
GNH Commission http://www.gnhc.gov.bt/publications/RRDIAR2007.pdf )
Further, the production of desegregated data, its effective analysis and use will also support effective
planning, implementation and monitoring. In this regard, the ongoing work spearheaded by the GNH
Commission in the production of comprehensive gewog -based socio -economic profiles sourced mainly
from the Population and Housing Census 2005, the Bhutan Living Stan dard Survey 2007, Poverty Analysis
Report 2007, etc will go a long way towards providing necessary baselines as well as other data to inform
sub-national planning and monitoring activities.
Purna Chettri , Renewable Natural Resource - Research Centre, Mongar
It is high time that we have a computer system for integrating all the plans and also firm criteria and
indicator for monitoring the impact of plan and implemented activities. Leave most of the planning t o
Kencho Namgyal , United Nations Children’s Fund ( UNICEF) Bhutan, Thimphu
Many thanks to Sonam Tshoki for raising this issue. I also comply with most of the response(s).
In a nutshell, it is indeed true that support is needed at each and every stage right from planning process
to monitoring and evaluation part. Since there is so much emphasis on Results Based Management, as
Purna has suggested, it is would be best to define indicators (without any discrepancies) and leave
planning and implementation to Dzongkhag (and the communities) alone; of course with enough support
in form of manpower, money and materials. As in the present planning process, it is cruci al to have
planning guidelines to direct the people at the grass root level, when they are planning.
However, I have some reservations about the present process.
• With decentralization, can we expect to train or build capacities of the primary stakeholders in all
developmental fields? If not, how viable will their plan be, even if we get 100 out of 100 voices input
during the planning process (if there is no experts view involved)? That is why, planning guideline
should be strengthened, and un -biased facili tator expert in a respective field should be there to guide
the community, every time a plan for a particular project is framed? Indicators without any
discrepancies in the definition should also be agreed on during the planning process itself (to make
the evaluation and monitoring process easy).
• The main problem I have seen is during the implementation stage. There is too much banking on
FREE LABOUR CONTRIBUTION from the community. While the principle behind it of inculcating
ownership is great, I feel t hat it is in total contradiction with poverty reduction strategy. Imagine a
worst case scenario, if 10 different ministries and various agencies under them, Non -governmental
organizations and other donor agencies, come up with a developmental in a particul ar community. It
would entail community labour contribution from each and every household, and even if the toddler
to the great parents from every family are involved in the free labour contribution, it would not
suffice. From one of the field trips, I mad e to a school project, it was noticed all the free labour
contributors were females (some even under aged), and the only man in the group was an 83 years
old man. So, are we not over burdening the society? From hear say, I heard that in one of the
studies conducted on free labour contribution in Bhutan, it seems on an average, a farmer ends up
contributing 153 man days (in a year) as free labour contribution. It would end up making the poor
poorer since opportunity cost would be labour lost, which otherwise he/she would have got to invest
in his farm. Therefore, I propose that free labour contribution should be done away with , and if at all
community needs to be engaged in labour contribution, they should be duly paid like Bhutan Power
Corporation does when they implement their Rural Electrification Project.
Otherwise, the present planning process is almost perfect. Serious strategic re -thinking is needed in the
Thinley Wangchuk , Renewable Natural Resource - Research Centre, Mongar
I have some experiences in participatory geog planning in Radi and Udzorong geogs under Trashigang,
Chimung geog under Pemagatshel, Martshala geog under Samdrup Jongkhar and Nangkor geog under
Zhemgang Dzongkha g. At the national level, they have high hopes and pride that we are following
bottom-up planning. But in reality, what really happens in the geogs is - the Gup and few sector heads
visit the villages and have a meeting. Most of the time, it will be the gu p and the sector heads talking,
coming right to activities without going through the issues/constraints and we have a shopping list after
few hours. It is anything but participatory planning.
Ideally, participatory planning should begin with livelihood an alysis, resource mapping, and identification
of constraints/potentials. The constraints/potentials should be prioritized and then changed to activities
with full participation of the stakeholders. The floor should be given to them and facilitators should o nly
facilitate and not intervene in the decision. Participatory tools should be used and not only one way
communication. We found that using pictorial cards for constraints/potentials was very useful for
reminding the farmers.
My point is that we need to make lot of improvement in the participatory planning process.
Sonam Tobgay , Independent Consultant, Thimphu
In addition to what Tshering Pem has mentioned regarding geog bas ed planning or sub -national
planning, I and my counter parts in FAO Rome are working on the Right to Food Assessment in Bhutan.
This also involves using data from Bhutan Living Standard Survey (BLSS) 2007, Population and Housing
Census (PHC) 2005 and Rapi d Rural Impact Assessment; trying to understand the underlying causes of
food insecurity status in Bhutan and its determinants, including a profile of food insecure at the
household level. This is followed by an analysis of the institutional and legislativ e framework relevant to
food security governance and accountability mechanisms at national and sub -national levels including civil
society participation in planning and satisfaction with government services followed by policy
Let’s hope we can find synergies with this study and the one undertaken by UNDP and GNHC.
A one day workshop is scheduled for September 18 where stakeholders will be participating including
representatives from GHNC, Ministry of Agriculture, Office of the Attorney General and others. The
workshop aims to validate some of the findings of the Right to Food assessment (food -insecure,
vulnerable and marginalized household groups), specifically those related to the characteristics and
determinants of household food secur ity and food security governance. If any of the Solution Exchange
members are interested in attending, kindly let me know in advance.
I hope this will help towards some of the initiatives brought up by Dawa and Sonam Tshoki.
Lekey Wangdi , Dzongkhag Administration, Haa
I would like to take this opportunity to share some of my views on the topic highlighted by the Sonam
Knowing the fact that decentralization process st arted in our country since 1981 and evolved a long way,
there still remain major challenges ahead to achieve the goals of the nation.
With regard to planning process, the participatory approach is being considered at the local level. People
are made to pr ioritize their needs as a bottom up planning process. However, the decentralization
process has not been fully nurtured to meet the expectation of both the government and people. Now
the question is WHY? Following are the obstacles I perceived personally d uring my few years of services
at the local level:
1. Lack of people’s participation/contentment: I mean the active participation of the grassroot level
people is very poor. Government has been providing the training from all sectors in form of farmers’
training, field demonstration, study tour, exhibition etc.
However, the impact of those has been very poor especially in the eastern region. The training has been
provided and not much of the follow up action there after. To cite an example, if there is a meeting, call
up for preparing or making decision on one project to be implemented in a locality, a father may attain
and in the next follow up action the son/daughter may attain without knowing what actually happened
earlier. They attain just for the sak e of doing so.
2. Not enough skilled people at the Dzongkhag level and geog level to convenience the people on the
importance of bottom up planning process. There is a lot of mismatch of human resources and the
concerned agencies failed to address the iss ues.
3. Decentralization process being there in the paper both administratively and financially, but in practical
it is not that easy to implement as most of the decision has to be forwarded to the central agencies.
4. Not adapting to the CHANGE: The wor king systems of the sectors are so rigid that the new ideas and
initiative are difficult to put in place due to financial and administrative constraints.
5. The concerned authorities diagnose the problem but fail to take remedial measures on time.
Owing to the above problem definition, I would like to suggest following recommendation to address the
• Build the capacity of the staffs at the Dzongkhag and Geog level or change the system of the civil
service and the government where by the Human Resour ce are managed properly not only in the
paper but in reality.
• The problem of disguised unemployment (e.g. stagnant position holder due to lack of motivation,
incentive etc., and unequal distribution of responsibility) has to be addressed immediately.
• The g overnment has to have policies in place like establishment of more Rural Financial
Institution to encourage the poor farmers on concept of Group Formation, Small Scale cottage
• The project documents of the donor agencies have to be prepared keeping into account the
ground reality so that it fits the local environment. The use of fancy words and taking all the
theories in the document does not help during the real implementation of the plans and create
lots of hurdles in getting the releases there by leading to the failure of the projects.
• The concept of good governance with the principles of the decentralized policies has to be put in
practice rather than remaining in the paper.
• With streamlining the role of Geog Administrative Officer, they have to be used in a productive
manner and also a priority has to be placed to develop their capacity.
• The budgeting and the financial procedure have to be reviewed to overcome the present lapses.
• The Multi-Year Rolling Budget and the 10th Plan process wou ld help us to prepare better plans.
The strategies for monitoring and evaluation of the local development programs:
The better integrated system of reporting has to be put in place to solve the problem of present situation.
The different sector staffs ar e burdened with filling up different reporting format with lots of duplication
across the sectors and if there is better means of information sharing system, I hope most of the issues
would be able to address.
The M&E manual and the system developed by th e GNHC, Department of Public Accounts, Department of
Budget and other agencies will have to be integrated and come up with the one system of reporting. The
present system of having a different reporting format of every ministry has to be looked upon.
However, for the time being it would be wise to manage the existing field staffs and engineers with
better planning and co -ordination among the sectors.
And with regards to sense of ownership lot of efforts have to be in place to educate the people and make
them dependent. Further, the system of Resource allocation in the form of Block Grant to be adopted by
the government will definitely give them lessons. The subsidy components given by the government has
to be reprioritized and make people understand the co re values of the huge expenditure. Besides,
educating them through training on Group Formation, Co -operatives and Community Formation etc., will
help them to understand more.
David Seddon , Critical Faculty, U nited Kingdom (response 2)
I agree absolutely with Kencho 's warning and concern regarding voluntary (unpaid) labour contributions.
While undertaking a social and economic impact assessment of World Bank funded farm roa ds built under
the auspices of Royal Government of Bhutan, Ministry of Agriculture, I was struck by the discrepancy
between the anticipated voluntary contributions to road maintenance that were built into the assumptions
of the appraisal documents and the lack of 'spare' available labour (in Bhutan's relatively small rural
settlements and overall small population). Demands for 'free' labour from many directions (I was just
looking at contributions expected for road maintenance) would undoubtedly put additio nal strains on local
Moreover, I suspect that the pressure would be great on the least well endowed and would not only tend
to increase poverty but also to squeeze particularly those least able to resist and to increase inequality
within local communities. These points were made in my report and were broadly similar to the views of
another international consultant on road maintenance who, came shortly after me. These views fed into a
national workshop and we hope will have had some impact on farm road maintenance policy.
Alexandru Nartea , United Nations Children’s Fund ( UNICEF) Bhutan, Thimphu
I follow with great interest the discussion taking place, and would like to add a few points which I find
Since (development) planning, implementation and monitoring takes place at different levels (national,
dzongkhag, geog, community), the roles and responsibilities between the levels should be clearly spelled
out. Some programmes are of national importance or more feasible to be managed (planned,
implemented and monitored) at the national level, other programmes at the dzongkhag, geog or
community level. What is sometimes happening is that programmes which could be managed at the
dzongkhag, gewog or community level are actually managed from Thimphu, given the insufficient
capacity or clear assigned responsibility. This affects the active local participation in the process and
The communities need to be organized in order to have a mecha nism for participation and ensure that it
is done systematically. While CBOs exist in many locations, their role is often segmented sector wise.
Maybe it is the case to integrate the various sector based community organizations under one
'community develop ment' umbrella, so that inter -sectoral linkages are well addressed.
In terms of capacity at the community level for planning, implementation and monitoring, while certain
basic skills can be provided through training, I do think the best way to attain cap acity is through
As it was mentioned, planning, implementation and monitoring has been taking place at the community
level, in a different way, by local means. The focus should be to build upon the community experience,
make it systematic and wi th feedback.
I also think that defining what is meant by implementation at community level is very important. Does it
mean providing labour or managing a certain intervention and monitoring progress? Kencho has already
mentioned on the labour part.
As regards participatory techniques in Planning, Monitoring and Evaluation at the grassroots level there is
wealth of literature, and easy to access in internet. One I came across based on a learning mission with
GNHC to India is "Planning at the Grassroots Lev el: An Action Programme for the Eleventh Five Year
Plan". It has some similar issues we are discussing now, and available online at www.panchayat.gov.in It
would be good if something similar c ould be documented in Bhutan, especially since activity and budget
planning is also done annually in the frame of the Five Year Plan.
Nim Karma Sherpa , NYCOM Consultants, Thimphu
It is interesting to read your que ry and the contributions made by members on the network. I am
tempted to share some basic thinking in participatory process and participatory programming. First of all,
there is no doubt about the enabling environment. Decentralization, the GNH development approach,
democratization etc. are all strategic visions that run with the common thread of “participatory
development” and “people -centeredness” . There is perhaps no situation riper than this to make it a
reality. But I agree that there is a real danger for it to be just rhetoric because the issue is really about
operationalizing it with real “empowerment” injected into every vein that carry the process of reality. In
my opinion, we should very carefully look at some critical factors that facilitate parti cipation.
Our organizations and institutions must change, answering befittingly to the order of the day. Policy
makers, ministries, departments, Dzongkhag administrations, Geog administrations, private sector, NGOs,
civil societies and in fact every one o f us must change too. Organizational development devoid of this
concept is not current. Willingness to work collaboratively is the most crucial factor. As such the following
suggestions could be considered:
• Take advantage of the rich traditional participat ory processes. I think we do have so many examples
of indigenous community -based self -help practices and processes. We can build on these age -old
concepts and practices to learn and apply genuine participation in development programmes.
• Government agenci es dealing with development programmes and projects must be willing to truly
devolve powers and control to decentralized levels of the system. And, this must be really done
rather than just preach. The role of the central government agencies should graduat e into that of a
facilitator, a facilitator who believes in ‘participation’ and “teamwork”.
• The spirit of teamwork and multi -sectoral approach must be in the frontline. It must be
acknowledged that even simple illiterate village folks with quite differen t outlooks can contribute
solidly by sharing their indigenous knowledge and practices, and learn from each other. Therefore,
the concept of joint planning, implementing, monitoring and evaluating is crucial.
• Like behind every successful man there is a wo man, it is also necessary to have a high -level of
commitment to change through participatory principles. As such for development programmes to
produce the anticipated results, all focal central level government agencies implementing
development programmes must exhibit unequivocal support to “participation” and “empowerment”.
• The role of NGOs and civil societies must be re -enforced by trusting and supporting their activities. I
think there is already a very conducive environment in as far as legitimacy of NGOs and civil societies
• Above everything, having the structures and procedures clearly understood by every stakeholders
and partners is critical. The nature of the problems, objectives and strategies, a common ‘shared
vision’ of the progra mme and project, along with a clear, systematic, consistent guideline for
participation and collaboration are important pre -requisite for successful participatory programmes.
• Proper understanding is attained only through systematic awareness and educatio n. In order for
create such an atmosphere of common understanding amongst all stakeholders and partners, it is
essential to have ‘transactional communication’, where there is open dialogue, frank feedback and
clear channels and methods of communication amo ng the programme participants.
• Adequate emphasis and focus must also be made to develop the “process” of implementation during
the formative stage. In this regard, development of programmes and projects must be seen as a
continuous activity, experiential in nature with considerable emphasis on monitoring and formative
evaluation. Alternatively, it maybe also appropriate to establish small and effective facilitation offices
at decentralized levels, which are able to work with both formal as well as informa l structures in the
community. Of course, there is no denying the fact that the use of already existing community level
structures, institutions and procedures must also be tapped.
• Finally, the capacity of development practitioners working with participa tory programmes, monitoring
and evaluation must have the necessary knowledge, skills and attitudes. They must have the
competence to innovate - knowledge of what to do, skill to do, willingness to experiment, even to fail
and try again and again until the a ims are fulfilled. They must also know how to work with
community groups, how to gain support of bureaucrats and politicians, and how to work in a flexible
and supportive ways. One must also be able to give way to a more democratic, co -equal and
participatory method from that of the traditional ‘top down’, hierarchical mind sets of working. We
must remember that development is like sowing a seed; the seed will germinate and grow upward
from below into a plant under the given local conditions. Ultimately, th e farmer’s knowledge
determines how much is reaped at the harvesting season. Using this corollary, I guess development
results will be commensurate to the capacity of the development practitioners. So... invest
I hope the suggestions made som e sense for your considerations.
Shiriin Barakzai , SNV Bhutan - Ministry of Works and Human Settlement, Thimphu
At first, although the title was of general interest, I wasn't sure I'd have much to contribute to the issue
of monitoring and reporting, but I see that quite a few members have brought into the discussion, the
issue of human resource levels and human capacity (ability, knowledge, training, exposure) at the
dzongkhag and geog level to adequately achiev e the goals of the 10th FYP and Royal Government of
Bhutan’s plans for the future in general. The challenge being, if we don't have 'enough' of the 'right'
people to address the works being promised, then there will I) definitely not be spare people/time t o do
monitoring and reporting and ii) to a degree we are doomed to inadequacy (I wouldn't go so far as
failure) before we start and so M&E is irrelevant to some extent.
It is interesting to note that no one has disputed the fact that low human capacity is a barrier at either
Dzongkhag or Geog level, and it is taken as a basic fact. But only one person has clearly cited that
although 'we' know this to be the case, 'the concerned authorities' ‘fail to take remedial measures on
time'. It is also of particular interest to me that none of the members specifically single out the bottle
neck at the District Engineering Sector (DES), who are charged in delivering all the infrastructure on
which many of the other plans are founded.
I also felt that Lekey Wangdi came closest to verbalising the problem that many government
organisations suffer from around the world - that is the inability or inertia to effect a real change.
Although paper and processes may be changed, attitudes are much more difficult to change and require
serious shake ups in working modality, personal leadership etc. The point being that even with the best
in the world, officers returning from workshops or other, where they are informed of an alternative way
of working, they will be unable to unless the personnel and procedures of both their own and other
controlling departments are flexible enough to allow small changes.
A number of people mentioned the issue of how to get community ownership and participation in
decision making without overburdening those same communities, but yet being able to provide the
infrastructure they demand. The obvious problem of finding alternative labour and being able to pay for
has yet to find any realistic solutions. It would be in teresting to hear from GNH on the Community
Participation Policy that is being drafted as it will affect so many members in their work.
I would like to bring members attention again to the resource constraint at DES level with regard to
delivering infrast ructure. Often construction is believed to be a quick win for M&E people as it's fairly easy
to count number of km of road built, or households served, toilets constructed, school beds supplied etc.
However, the quality of construction (workmanship and m aterials), competency of contract enforcement
and robustness (where both contractors and engineers may have limited personnel, experience, capacity
and exposure), as well as appropriate (sustainable/viable) designs for long term benefits (rural -urban
migration) makes the issue of monitoring and evaluation take a back seat. We all appreciate that the best
M&E is the kind that is ongoing and involves no additional personnel or paperwork, but in reality this is
hard to do when all your time and effort is focus ed on fire fighting the work in hand.
Niralal Rai , Department of Roads, Thimphu, Bhutan
I absolutely agree with Kencho and David on the issue of voluntary labour contributions and its resultant
impacts on poverty. Road maintenance is capital intensive and the Department of Roads in Bhutan has
been trying to find innovative/alternative ways of carrying out maintenance works such as throug h
contracting, output/performance based maintenance and community based maintenance.
None of these modalities have produced desired results. Our experience is that road maintenance by
communities through voluntary labour contribution heavily burdens them . In fact, it does not work out for
them as well as for us because the road needs to be maintained the most when it is a busy farming
season and there are so many students in winter when the road is at its best.
Marry Otto -Chang , United Nations International Strategy for Disaster Reduction (UN/ISDR),
Take a look at the work of Tam Lundy and Building Capacity to Create Healthy Communities at the
following link http://www.bchealthycommunities.ca/content/home.asp .
Karma Dupchu , Dzongkhag Administration, Samdrup Jongkhar
Regarding pla nning, implementation and monitoring in the Dzongkhag and Geog level, Mr. Ngawang
Chhophel has rightly put forth the current process. However, it is working well only in a cohesive working
environment. For instance, some sector does not like to be asked to submit their annual work plans while
following up and monitoring the work plans.
As Mr. Leki Wangdi rightly pointed out it is very hard to put new ideas through and difficult t o adapt to
changes at the grass root level. The outlooks of public workers need improvement. It seems like we have
everything, budget, manpower both technical and non technical, sound policies, etc. Yet we have
nothing. The success of effective implementat ion of plans depends on the management skills. We are yet
to learn the skills of management through involvement in such a complex process.
Poverty is rural phenomenon and we have targeted to reduce by 15% by the end of 10th FYP or
eliminate if possible. Government has been trying to increase the produces of Renewable Natural
Resources (RNR) since the beginning of the Five year plans and of course it has increased relatively but
not in all Dzongkhags. Food insecurity has been in existence and we know it wi ll continue to exist. The
most important point here is not the measurement of poverty or finding out the existence of food
insecurity, but particular reasons for poverty or food insecurity prevailing over the area which will then
From my e xperience, poverty in the rural areas is directly proportionate to the production from RNR,
where as production is indirectly proportionate to the possession of land and livestock. However, rural
people believe that if they possess more land and livestock, they would be able to produce more. In fact
this has resulted in low production per acres and per livestock involving more labor forces and increasing
cost of production. RNR sector in every geogs have been trying to change this attitude of rural people b ut
could not succeed in most of the rural areas. While the RNR extension staffs should be credited for
bringing the rural areas to this advanced stage, we also require more competitive people catering to
changing times to take things a step further.
I a lso agree with Mr. Kencho and Mr. David about the impact of free labor contribution from such a small
community. Free labor contributions exits only in rural areas and not in urb an areas. I also believe that
one of the strategies to reduce poverty in the rural areas is to do away with the labor contribution.
However, I am not sure if there would be a strong ownership if free labour contribution is lifted. I think
the present own ership has to do with free labour contribution from people. If everything is executed by
the government, people will not have a sense of ownership, but feel grateful to the government and
remain dependent on the government.
Hans van Noord , Sustainable Land Management Project (SLMP) NSSC, Ministry of
The Query brought forward by Sonam Tshoki on issues related to decentralized planning links to one of
the main objectives of the Sustainabl e Land Management Project (SLMP), a Global Environment Facility –
World Bank (GEF -WB) funded project implemented by the Ministry of Agriculture through the National
Soil Services Center (NSSC): “To strengthen institutional and community capacity for antici pating and
managing land degradation in Bhutan”.
SLMP has over the last two years worked closely with geogs and chiogs to develop chiog and geog
Sustainable Land Management (SLM) action plans, based upon which SLM interventions are implemented
(e.g. check dams, hedgerows, soil fertility measures, irrigation channel renovation etc.). Firstly a
participatory SLM action plan is compiled at the chiog level, identifying area -based land related issues of
the farmers and discussing and prioritizing interventions to tackle these issues. The compilation of such a
plan takes time, up to a couple of days, but is essential in the awareness raising and capacity building
process and pays off in the implementation phase, where the project has to rely on the farmer to actu ally
do the work.
The chiog SLM action plans are compiled into a geog SLM plan and discussed, modified and endorsed by
the Geog Yargay Tshogdu (GYT). This ensures that all chiog representatives are aware of the activities
brought forward by other chiogs a nd that the GYT commits itself to the plan and implementation.
SLMP has been able to compile 47 SLM chiog plans into 3 SLM geog plans, the last two years and the
plans for 2008 -9, the third project year are ready to be implemented. Another 6 geogs will se e
participatory SLM planning starting this year. The project is presently documenting the participatory
action planning method it has developed (a manual with tools used and documentation of the planning
process in our pilot geogs). We hope to be able to s hare this material in the coming months.
Some of our lessons are:
1. It is important to take time to sit with the chiog communities, geog administration and GYT. Not only
to draw up a “wish list”, but to make an issue -based (and area -based) plan and to c ome back to this plan
regularly to discuss implementation, progress and issues. The project is in the position to do so through
our geog teams (Field Coordinator and RNR Extension Agents), and we realize that time and staff
availability will be a constrain t for planning and monitoring, but they are crucial.
2. In the end the activities have to be carried out by the community members, so a plan will only be
implemented if a farmer and the community (be it chiog or geog) acknowledges the need and feels a
responsibility to do so.
3. We have developed a participatory Monitoring & Evaluation (PM&E) method to get feedback from
farmers on implementation, achievement and issues. We have learnt to bring back the queries to the
4. Involvement o f the Dzongkhag staff, for SLMP the sector heads, during and after the planning process,
is instrumental to ensure support and guidance and effective implantation at geog level and embedding
in the Dzongkhag plans and budgets.
Chencho Gyalmo Dorjee , Governance Unit, UNDP/UNCDF, Thimphu
I follow the interesting and diverse views in this discussion; many issues come to my mind. To avoid
repeating what the others before wrote in the process of planning, implemen tation and monitoring, I will
try share the UNDP and UNCDF ongoing support and experiences in the field of decentralisation and local
Decentralization support activities play a vital role to recognize the role of the rural communities in the
devolution of power and strengthening of local governments as they form a key focus for Bhutan in terms
of effective targeted development intervention activities.
UNDP and UNCDF have been actively engaged in supporting the decentralization process Bhutan s ince
1997 with support for block grant funding and improved planning and budgeting under the Geog (Block)
Development Facilitating Activities (GDFA) in 10 geogs. This was followed by the Decentralization Support
Programme (DSP), 2003 -2008 a collaborative e ffort of UNDP, UNCDF and SNV to support the national
policy of decentralization in another 35 geogs.
Both projects aimed to create an enabling environment for effective planning, implementation and
planning aligned to the decentralization policy; enhance citizen participation in local planning, decision
making and management through provision of training, and capital investment funds (block grants); and
implementation of the 2001 DYT/GYT Chatrim (local governance act).
The discussion sheds light on many issues related to limited capacity at both the dzongkhag and the geog
levels, questioning the participatory planning processes, limited implementation resources (technical and
human), coordination among implementing agencies at the local levels, bottlenec ks in local public
expenditure management procedures, prioritization procedures which are not always clear, unwieldy
procurement procedures etc.
The lessons learned (soon to be published study) from the DSP fiscal decentralization while has shown
positive feedback from local governments also show similar gaps that need to be strengthened to achieve
successful implementation at local levels.
Recognizing the benefits of fiscal decentralization with capacity building in planning, implementation and
monitoring activities, d evelopment partners working in the area of decentralization and local governance,
including UNDP, UNCDF, Denmark, Austria, and JICA are taking initiatives towards greater harmonization
and alignment to support this very positive but challen ging move to decentralization.
A joint programme called the Local Governance Support Programme (LGSP) has been signed with the
national government which will contribute towards improved service delivery for poverty reduction and
realization of the MDGs through capacity development and the capital annual grant aims to reach five
• Effective and transparent financing mechanism for local government service delivery in place and well
• Inclusive, efficient and accountable public expenditure management procedures for local government
established and being used.
• Effective national support/training mechanism for local government personnel and elected people in
• Central government’s policy, regulatory, support and supervision functions strengthened.
• Effective models for integrated public service and information delivery at local levels piloted.
Besides the other challenges mentioned I would like to touch on the Local Governments' Act (LGA, 2007).
For the LGA to be effective amendments to the subsidiary DYT/GYT Acts with regard to assigned
functions, financing, internal organization of local governments etc is important. Clear and appropriate
functional and fiscal assignments between Geogs and Districts are needed as well as between the center
(line ministries) and local governments for good implementation and accountability.
A short study on community labour contribution was done on the existing different modalities that the
communities use (source -lessons learned document) . The advice to completely do away with free labour
is not for us to decide I believe. Local communities should be given the choice to decide what they would
want and what is possible as we know there are other factors besides the time and cost that commun ities
In summary, many important areas of policy reform relating to streamlining the legal framework,
strengthening the planning and budgeting system, introducing a fiscal formula and enhancing capacity
development have already been identif ied by the RGoB. It will be important to monitor this process for
decentralization to succeed.
In addition, we would like to share the following documents, which provide a picture of some of the
lessons learned as well as challenges with regard to decentr alization in Bhutan:
Decentralization Outcome Evaluation Report – Bhutan, 2005
Challenges of D ecentralization in Bhutan: Financing Local Governance , Discussion Paper, UNDP Bhutan,
July 2005 www.undp.org.bt/Governance/docs/Financing%20Local%20Government.pdf
Challenges of Decentralization in Bhutan: Coordination and Human Capacity , Discussion paper, UNDP
Bhutan, July 2005 www.undp.org.bt/Governance/docs/ Coordination %20and%20 Human %20Capacity.pdf
Passang Dorji , Dzongkhag Administration, T rongsa
From the experiences, I have in the Dzongkhag, I want to share some thoughts on what others have
Effective planning and implementation of community development programs at the local
Our developmental activ ities are people centered approach whereby we devolve the developmental
activities including designing, planning, monitoring and evaluation, and budgeting at the geog and district
level. The budgeting at the geog level is only reflected in paper and not us ed practically. In practical,
the Dzongkhags do consultative planning. But the aspirations of the people have not been substantially
met because of the lack of technical and human capacity to participate effectively in the development
activities at the geo g and district level. And moreover we don’t examine the roadblocks which we come
across in carrying out the works. For effective planning and implementation of community development
programs, I feel we should thrust on identifying prospective roadblocks, o utline alternative strategies and
interventions to address them. We need to build better coordination, convergence and effective
partnerships in planning, implementation and expenditure management in order to achieve what we
To have effective plan ning and successful implementation of development programs I would like to
suggest that we go for bench marking. Bench marking helps to improve quality, reduces risk, control risk,
measures effectiveness as well as enhances productivity. With bench marking we can have a reference
point to base the success of our development programs. The bench marking is just a thought of mine
and I would appreciate if you all could share some views on it.
Further, I feel we need to focus on value addition by clubbing acti vities which cater to a common
outcome to minimize the baggage of waste in terms of money, time and materials. We need to document
the roadblocks of the previous years to minimize the cost over run. The resources are not even taken into
consideration when local expressed their expectations. So resources have to be considered when people
submit their wish list. Moreover, the Dzongkhags have inadequate staff.
Strategies for monitoring and evaluation of the local development program
I am of the view that the Monitoring & Evaluation should be made a companion of all the stages of a
program. As the implementations of the programs are at the geog level, there is a need for huge
resources and a good and strong M&E system in place. With a good and strong M&E in pla ce, we can
transform the output oriented developments to outcome oriented approach, with right interventions in
shortest time. The assessment or M&E should be done from the view of efficiency, productivity, quality
and effectiveness of the activity or a pr ogram.
Ideas and advice on strengthening the sense of community ownership of the local
If we are to strengthen the sense of ownership of the local development process, then we should equip
and empower the community rather than spoon fe eding them. There should be a resource sharing if
possible, so that there is a minimum contribution from the farmers' side. A minimal contribution from
their side can instill a sense of ownership in them.
Many thanks to all who contributed to this query !
If you have further information to share on this topic, please send it to Solution Exchange Bhutan at se-
bhutan@solutionexchange -un.net.bt with the subject heading “ Re: Query: Methods for Integrating
Planning, Implementation and Monitoring at the Geog and Dzongkhag Level – Advice; Expereinces .
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