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"A handbook for trainers on participatory local development: The Panchayati Raj model in India" is the outcome of a fruitful and mutually enriching partnership between the FAO Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific, its regional partners and rural development experts. The Bangladesh-based CIRDAP and the National Institute of Rural Development (NIRD) - India's premier training and research body in the field of rural development - played a key role.

Senior Indian rural development expert S. P. Jain, former head of NIRD's Centre for Panchayati Raj, provided inspiring guidance as well as substantial technical contributions and assistance in the overall coordination of the preparatory activities for this handbook. A. V. S. Reddy, NIRD Director General and Mathew C. Kunnumkal, NIRD Deputy Director General provided encouragement and guidance. P. Subrahmanyam, then with CIRDAP, facilitated technical guidance on the first draft of the handbook.

FAO, jointly with CIRDAP and NIRD, organized a series of workshops in India to develop the handbook to improve training capacities on awareness-building and skills-development for the newly elected Panchayat members and local government officials. Background information on Panchayati Raj and gaps in rural development training programmes were obtained from NIRD, state-level institutions, relevant UN agencies, village development networks and expert NGOs. Panchayati Raj case studies were prepared from the states of Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka and Kerala.

Two draft versions of the handbook were discussed by leading rural development experts in workshops held at NIRD in February 2001 and March 2002. The experts concluded that the handbook should focus on developing capacities needed by Panchayati Raj functionaries for the genuine participatory functioning of grassroots governance institutions set up by the 73rd Amendment. This includes attitudinal changes among elected local decision-makers as well as local government officials.

After identifying existing gaps in current rural development training programmes, they proposed ten training modules for the handbook, which are: participatory planning and management; social mobilization; enhancing women’s participation; social audit; participatory local resources management; partnership building; conflict management; planning for disaster preparedness and mitigation; participatory community monitoring and evaluation; and PRA tools.

I would like to express my deep gratitude for the production of the modules by:

I would also like to acknowledge the valuable secretarial support provided by S. S. Pradhan and the dedicated assistance provided by Mahesh Uniyal in the several stages of technical editing of the handbook.

Wim Polman
Rural Development Officer
FAO Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific

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