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Step 10. Monitor and revise the plan

Now the planning process comes full circle. Information is needed on how well the plan is being implemented and whether it is succeeding, so that the implementation agencies can improve the way in which the plan is being applied and so that the planning team may learn from experience and respond to changing conditions. It is necessary to know:

• Are the land-use activities being carried out as planned?
• Are the effects as predicted?
• Are the costs as predicted?
• Have the assumptions on which the plan was based proved to be correct?
• Are the goals still valid?
• How far are the goals being achieved?


Data are needed to answer all these questions, but data collection must not be allowed to become an end in itself. The more time spent gathering data, the less available for analysis and action. Focus on readily measurable outputs or land conditions relevant to the planning goals and use established methods of data collection such as product sales records. Rank the importance of items to be measured, so that time and budget constraints do not prevent important data from being acquired. Crop yield, rates of tree growth and livestock production are obvious indicators. Other critical data sets are linked to the nature of the plan; for example, the monitoring of water availability in irrigation projects or of river sediment load in projects intended to check erosion.

Monitoring may involve observations at key sites, regular extension visits and discussions with officials and land users. A checklist and periodic meetings in the planning area may serve the purpose. Those responsible for plan implementation should list the tasks needed to correct problems as they arise and should also take action.

Review and revision

By analysis of the data collected, compare what has been achieved with what was intended. Identify problems in the implementation of the plan, or in the data or assumptions on which the plan is based.

There are a wide variety of reasons for failure. The first is that the plan was found to be based on incorrect assumptions; for example, that low crop yields were caused by a lack of fertilizer when in fact the major constraint is water. There may be changes in economic circumstances, such as when the world price of a cash crop falls. Often, failures occur in the logistics of implementation; if monitoring finds that fertilizers are not reaching farmers, is this a result of inefficiencies in the distribution system? Lastly, there may be problems of communication and participation, such as farmers who are not in fact planting the multipurpose trees that are recommended. Such problems should first be approached by finding out the reasons through talking to farmers.

Try to find solutions to the problems and discuss them with those who have to initiate corrective action. For minor changes, this can be at the level of the implementing agencies, for example in the form of revised extension advice. More substantial changes, amounting to a revision of the plan, must be referred to decision-makers. Continuous minor revisions are to be preferred where possible, since the attempt to make more substantial changes can lead to delays. However, there is no point in persisting with methods that are clearly failing to achieve their objectives.

This is the point at which benefits can be derived from the research initiated as part of, or in association with, the plan. If some of the problems encountered were anticipated, shell research results may be available. This applies both to technical problems, for example of plant nutrition or water quality or social difficulties. Where new problems arise, additional research will have to be undertaken.

There will usually be a change of emphasis over the lifetime of a development plan. In the beginning there will be an investment-intensive phase in which the results become visible in the shape of roads, water supplies, job opportunities, credit and material inputs. The second stage, consisting of extension and maintenance and operation of capital works, is harder to monitor. Day-to-day management is in the hands of individual farmers; credit repayments have to be administered, supplies of inputs maintained and marketing arrangements reviewed. The transition from the politically popular investment phase to the phase of ongoing maintenance and improvement is difficult. The latter calls for even more effective and willing cooperation between implementing agencies and land users.

Step 10

Responsibility: planning team

• List the goals and criteria achievement agreed in Step 1. Add any that emerged later in the planning period.

• Gather data relevant to each criterion of attainment: physical, economic and social.

• Compare what has been achieved with what was planned. Identify elements of success and failure.

• Seek explanations for failures. Were they caused by:

- Incorrect assumptions of the plan?
- Changed economic or political circumstances?
- Logistic problems of implementation?
- Problems of communication and participation?

• Review the goals: are they still valid?

• Initiate modification or revision of the plan:

- minor modifications through action by implementing agencies;
- larger revisions by the preparation of proposals and reference back to decision-makers.

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