Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Exploring the strategic minds of the rural Malaysians- The Village Action Plan Experiences

My best contribution to the development of rural area so far is through the ‘Village Action Plan’ initiatives. When I was appointed as member of advisory committee of the Institute for Rural Advancement (INFRA), from 2007-2009, I was asked to prepare a module for training the village people, in particular the JKKK and their representatives, to prepare ‘Village Action Plan’.  The Village Action Plan is a planning document which contains statements about problems and the apparent development potential of a village, its priorities, and objectives, and the preferred development proposals in the form of projects, and programmes to achieve the development objectives of the village. The document also has maps, and diagrams to support and clarify the proposals together with justifications of proposals, the preferred time frame of implementation and cost.
Village Action Plan launched by PM, Jan, 2009
We did pioneer projects of 17 villages including one each in Sabah and Sarawak. I personally involved in facilitating the workshops in 11 villages and based on the experiences  we came out with a manual which explain step-by-step on  how to conduct  workshop  in a village for the preparation of  the village action plan. The Village Action Plan was later officially  launched by PM (Tun Abdullah) for  national adoption in January, 2009. 

Welcome to Sabah-'Sumazau Dance'
The  planning approach of the village action plan is to enable active participation of the village people in bringing out experiences, ideas and detail actions for the development of their villages. In each villages we targeted around 20-40 people to participate (depending on the population size of the village). Interestingly, and as expected, we found that the village people were able to express clearly their needs and aspirations. The diverse ranges of  knowledge available   among the participants, especially knowledge acquired through their life experiences, were useful in the process of the identification of problems, potentials, priorities and development proposals for village development. 
My best experiences were conducting workshops in Sabah and Sarawak. In Sabah, Kampung Talantang of Marudu districts was selected for the pioneer project in August, 2008. It was based on my recommendation, since a few years before my students and me visited the village for an academic assignment in which we stayed  at the village for three nights.  The villagers belong to the Kadazan Dusun ethnic group, majority were Christian with a few Muslim families. Many were engaged in paddy cultivation on the low land  but a few did have land in the hilly area planted with rubber, fruits or cash crops.
The Talantang Village-Kadazan Dusun
A team of  16 people, including three from UTM, David Preston and Rosemary from Oxford, three INFRA officials in Bangi, three INFRA officials in Sabah and three camera crews visited the village. My UTM team and INFRA officials assisted in facilitating the workshop and input on basic understanding of planning and running of workshop was given by me since I was the one who prepare the module. INFRA did engaged consultant to make video to be used for training  later.
Workshop participants and facilitators

Beautiful view of River flowing through Talantang village

The workshop was conducted in a  village community hall. All together 35 village people participated in the workshop  representing various background, including farmer, members of village committee, Church, women, youth and teacher. Workshop sessions run  smoothly for two days, with discussion in  a large group in the first two sessions to come up with problems, potentials and  visions. The next  two sessions the participants were divided into four smaller groups to discuss development proposals and a detail project each with costing.
Active participation of the village people during a workshop session in Talantang
In Sarawak, an Iban Long House in Lundu was selected. UTM team, INFRA officials and camera crews attended.  We stayed at the long house for two nights. The exercise was similar except this time the workshop was conducted at the corridor/balcony of the long house.  The outcome was good since the longhouse people were used to conduct activities on the corridor and more people attended because it was near their apartments. More women, particularly housewives  participated, most of them were not working, but their involvement in the discussions were brilliant.    
Briefing on village action preparation at an Iban Longhouse, Lundu Sarawak
Participant presented their ideas at the end of a workshop session

No comments:

Post a Comment