Participatory Land Use Planning: lessons 1 year on

Posted on 13/06/2019 by

Meeting with Riau Governor during PMAP7 project inception

Just over a year ago LEI submitted its final report for the last of three participatory mapping and planning projects completed for the Green Prosperity project’s Participatory Land Use Planning activity in Indonesia. The Participatory Mapping and Planning project (PMaP) sub-activities compiled new and existing spatial information into a WebGIS (aka province and district-level information management systems – IMS) to support spatial planning and natural resource licensing enforcement. New modalities such as IMS, standardised spatial data, trained government officials and the established spatial data forums helped the province and targeted districts to meet national agenda, to implement One Map Policy.

The former Governor of Riau, Mr. Arsyadjuliandi Rachman, earlier this year commented on the value of the information management system for increasing certainty and improving citizen and investor access to information:

"PMaP7 has supported Riau to build a grand and important system where spatial planning becomes the commander in development planning. With the support of spatial planning and standardised spatial data in line with the One Map Policy, land use and licensing overlaps can be avoided. Spatial planning can support the investment, by ensuring the certainty of land supported by information systems that can be accessed by the public including the investors.”

We are delighted to hear that our consultants are still being called/consulted to help their counterparts in Riau with some technical troubleshooting, invited back for presentations, and formally consulted for ongoing training. It is real recognition that the project value did not simply expire at project completion. This one-year anniversary provides an opportunity for us to reflect on some of the key lessons from our extensive experience over the life of the PMaP projects. We’ve selected three key lessons below that relate specifically to local stakeholders and building local capacity within projects, sourced from our final reporting:

Relationship building is everyone’s duty.
It’s not enough to have a Stakeholder Engagement officer and a Relationship Manager; all staff have a role in building relationships. Our PMaP7 team spent considerable time building relationships with everybody having roles to play, from the GIS technicians running on-the-job-training through to the planners and project leadership team. 

    • Embedding technical staff within district offices was a specific relationship-building strategy we used. These staff quickly proved useful to the district-level governments – the key beneficiaries – through technical support and mentoring. They also proved an invaluable ‘ear-on-the-ground' to aid quick training or database design adaptations and to identify sustaining champions.
    • Targets - the ‘who’ - of relationship building should be individual or whole-agency champions who can achieve ‘quick-wins’ during implementation and support sustainability post-completion. Strengthened relationship with both executive and legislative institutions enabled the influence to local policy through the issuance of local government regulations and decrees.

User needs take precedence over technical standards.
We get it. Technical standards are essential for governments and professional bodies to regulate. But sometimes unworkable technical standards arise from false interpretations of government guidelines. Our lesson is to prioritise usability – particularly in the case of novice users – and to keep the project objective front of mind.

    • This might mean reviewing how technical standards are applied at both national agency and district government levels and creating a graduated standard. In the first instance, we enabled a technical standard review by establishing linkages among general users and enabling them to use the WebGIS as a platform for information exchange.
    • Where technical standards cannot be reviewed/amended, Standard Operating Procedures can build novice knowledge by documenting how (and why) technical standards are being met.
    • Moving forward, we’d like to see trainings adopt a more practical design to focus on operational tasks for spatial planning and licensing processes. In addition to making trainings more targeted, this may further highlight local-scale technical standard needs.

Effective capacity building is strategic, targeted, flexible and adaptable.
All the buzzwords... so what do we really mean?

    • Strategic: prepare an integrated training and mentoring program early on that meets project objectives. Review and refine this as needed (for example, better aligning trainings with operating processes).
    • Targeted: identify key project beneficiaries and enablers and ensure training and mentoring are designed to be meaningful for them, as well as including senior authority to raise awareness and support of technical matters.  
    • Flexible: ensure activities fit within attendee schedules and specific needs. This could include on-the-job-training, but this needs careful planning, flexibility and a variety of approaches. On-the-job-training should dovetail with workshops and other formal trainings. Including local university students in on-the-job-training also proved successful.
    • Adaptable: look for sustainable, multi-use opportunities through scale and add-ons – including actions like establishing GIS User groups and spatial data forums that, with the right support, can be self-sustaining and driven by users.

All so simple, right? We’ll be documenting these and other key thematic lessons on our website and LinkedIn page – as we keep these front-of-mind in our day-to-day operational activities, in Indonesia and internationally.