Land Resources

Land-use planning at the local level

The local planning unit may be the village, a group of villages or a small water catchment. At this level, it is easiest to fit the plan to the people, making use of local people's knowledge and contributions. Where planning is initiated at the district level, the programme of work to implement changes in land use or management has to be carried out locally. Alternatively, this may be the first level of planning, with its priorities drawn up by the local people. Local-level planning is about getting things done on particular areas of land - what shall be done where and when, and who will be responsible.

Bottom-up planning is initiated at the local level and involves active participation by the local community. The experience and local knowledge of the land users and local technical staff are mobilized to identify development priorities and to draw up and implement plans.

The advantages are:

• local targets, local management and local benefits. People will be more enthusiastic about a plan seen as their own, and they will be more willing to participate in its implementation and monitoring;
• more popular awareness of land-use problems and opportunities;
• plans can pay close attention to local constraints, whether these are related to natural resources or socio-economic problems;
• better information is fed upwards for higher levels of planning

The disadvantages are that:
• local interests are not always the same as regional or national interests;
• difficulties occur in integrating local plans within a wider framework;
• limited technical knowledge at the local level means technical agencies need to make a big investment in time and labour in widely scattered places;
• local efforts may collapse because of a lack of higher-level support or even obstruction.

Local people are usually those best informed of local conditions, resources and problems. However, individuals can rarely negotiate on equal terms with the organized structures of government and the private sector with which they interact. The formation of local resource management groups (LRMGs) empowers stakeholders and brings them together to coordinate and address mutually important land resource issues. When there is local “ownership”, their creativity, initiative and enthusiasm will contribute greatly to the overall outcome. Ownership translates to responsibility on the part of stakeholders and in some cases voluntary contribution of resources.