Best practices in participatory planning in Tanzania
The “Survey of Some Current Approaches to Participatory Planning at District Level” was carried out by the
Institute of Resource Assessment (IRA) of the University of Dar-es Salaam and the Institute for Environment
and Development (IIED) in July 1990.
UNDP Tanzania supported the Ministry of Regional Administration and Local Government to conduct the
survey as an output to the Tanzania Capacity 21 Program.
The report presents an overview of the various government and donor supported participatory planning
initiatives in the country and gives a synthesis of the best practices. Experiences in some African countries,
such as Zimbabwe and Mali.
The following are the highlights of the survey report:
The two first chapters give the background to the survey of various projects in Tanzania and an overview
of the planning concept.
Chapter 3: reviews a few cases of participatory planning in some African countries.
CAMPFIRE: community wildlife management in Zimbabwe.
Catchement Approach in Kenya: soil and water conservation.
Kilifi Water and Sanitation Project in Kenya.
Gestion de Terroir: Sahelian Africa, Mali.
Chapter 4: reviews some experiences in district planning in Tanzania. It gives hints to some of the bad practices.
Chapter 5: presents the context of the participatory planning in Tanzania i.e. the Local Government Reform, which was
launched in 1996.
Chapter 6:gives the details of 4 scenarios of procedures in participatory planning for rural development programs.
Examples are given for each scenario. Kilosa District Development Program, Maswa District Development Program,
Shinyanga Development Program,Tanga Coastal Zone Management Project.
Chapter 7: summarises the “best practices”
The lessons identified during the study of various projects in Tanzania, are listed below:
Participation should begin at the conception stage of planning:the beneficiaries
articulating their visions of development.This process could be facilitated by donor
support in hiring consultants and also by the Strengths-Weakness-Opportunities-Threats-
Strategic Orientation (SWIT-SOR) approach.(Maswa District)
Designing of projects must be simple and ensure sustainability and replicability.
Enough time should be allocated to planning process, to allow learning by doing on the
part of the local communities.
Overall goals and objectives must include some tangible benefits to the target
The programs should be integrated in the local structures to avoid parallel structures,
duplications and conflicts. Accountability must be integrated in the program design to
overcome lack of confidence between the co-operating parties.
Intersectoral approach should be taken to avoid duplication of efforts, wastage of time
and effort which come from a single sector approach and uncoordinated arrangements.
These lead to confusion by bringing about different approaches and messages.
Avoidance of differential treatment of staff.
Clear operational procedures agreed at the start to avoid problems arising from the role
of the few expatriates.
Gradual level of financial input to local councils to build first of all capacity of
absorbing big financial inputs and a big array of activities. Need of capacity building for
Need for micro-project funds: for small projects, for support to women youth groups etc
whose priority activities may not necessarily be in the plans.
Cost sharing one strategy to ensure sustainability.
Synchronised disbursement of funds from all sources
Political support and commitment. At central government level support to participatory
planning provided by policy of local government. At lower levels support and
commitment only if there’s a truly participatory process
Different planning procedures and tools to be used. Development and Leadership for
Participation (DELEPA) and Participatory Rural Appraisal (PRA). Whatever they are
commitments must be involved in problem identification identification of solutions,
planning of their implementation, monitoring and evaluation.
Training of whole cross-section of stakeholders in district on principles of planning and
methods of participatory planning. Guidelines on planning procedures developed at
district level. Handbooks on participatory procedures useful.
Village land use management for planning to go beyond building of classrooms and
Collect data .keep a district database
Promote facilitation rather than implementation of projects to avoid creating dependency
Use of the local statutory committees to respect their mandate and powers of local
Capacity building of district administration.
Additional information can be obtained from Kerstin Pfliegner in UNDP CO Tanzainia at e-mail:
firstname.lastname@example.org . The whole report can be sent to you by e-main on request to EA-SURF.