Facilitating planning and implementation of District Livelihood Plan in India 230509

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  • 1. Facilitating Planning and Implementation of District Livelihood Plan in India Jitesh Panda1 Planning has always been central to development process in India. At Government of India level – there has been thrust on developing and implementing five year plans. This is done through Planning Commission of India. Similarly, at State level there are State Planning Boards/ Commissions. With emphasis on local self Governance, many of the States have started focusing on planning/implementation at Gram Panchayat (lowest unit of local self governance structure) level. However, there is limited focus of planning at district level. Livelihoods refer to different activities and related resources that support life. In rural areas, poor families depend on several livelihood activities like agriculture, livestock and wage earning. At times these activities positively or negatively influence each other. Most of these activities are influenced by season and trends in external environment like market. With increasing trend in globalizations, livelihoods of an area have become more and more dependent on external factors than the local context. Overall, livelihoods of an area function in a complex environment. Hence, promotion of livelihoods is quite challenging. Livelihood promotion efforts require planning at community/local level and also over a larger geographical area. Recent Rural Livelihood Projects (RLPs) supported by bilateral and multilateral agencies have demonstrated the need for planning - both at community and at a larger area level. In context of India, district continues to be the basic unit of implementation of different development schemes including those related to livelihoods. The three tier local Self Governance structure also consider district as highest unit of local self Governance. It is observed that, at district level, external market (including export) interface with the local market. Hence it is desirable to develop District focused Livelihood Plan. However, in context of India, most of the development efforts are planned centrally but implemented through district as a unit. District can be a potential unit for planning and implementing livelihood promotion efforts. In recent years, there is thrust on decentralized planning. In the long run, the focus is to encourage participatory planning and implementation at Gram Panchayat level. However, in the medium term there is thrust on planning at district level. It seems, in a large country like India, district will continue to be appropriate unit for planning and implementation of development programmes. This is quite evident in popular schemes like NREGA and RKVY, wherein role of Central/State Government is limited to formulating broad guidelines of schemes and making available funds. The specific planning and implementation is left to the jurisdiction of district administration. Each of districts is free to develop their own perspective plan under NREGA and RKVY. In practice, these planning efforts are done in a parallel manner by different agencies/departments of Government. Moreover there are several departments and agencies that can contribute to promotion of livelihoods like agriculture, horticulture, animal husbandry, industry, employment, DRDA and also Banks. Coordination and convergence of efforts of different agencies/departments of Government and also external Livelihood Promoting Organization can substantially contribute to promotion of livelihoods in the district. To start with, there is need for different stakeholders to come together and develop a “District Livelihood Plan”. Based on the plan, different agencies/departments can take up their activities. Development of District Livelihood Plan would typically involve interaction of different stakeholders, sharing of experiences in promotion of livelihoods, undertaking specific studies and finally making a plan based on need of the district and resources under different programs allocated to the district. Such planning process can best be facilitated by a Civil Society Organization with proven experience and expertise in promotion of livelihoods, in the State. 1 Senior Consultant, Vrutti Livelihoods Resource Centre, Catalyst Group, 19, 1st Main, 1st Cross, Ashwath Nagar, RMV 2nd Stage, Bangalore 560 094 India Email: jitesh@cms-india.org