‘PLUP fiction’ improves land use planning in Lao PDR

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Participatory land use planning aims to increase the involvement of villagers in decision making on land zoning and management. CIFOR/Terry Sunderland

BOGOR, Indonesia (11 May, 2011)_A CIFOR-led project is yielding innovative tools that help rural people improve their livelihoods and protect their natural resources.

In recent years, the Lao PDR government has championed participatory land use planning (known by its abbreviation PLUP). This approach aims to increase the involvement of villagers in decision making on land zoning and management. Nonetheless, an analysis by CIFOR and its partners of some PLUP pilot projects revealed deficiencies in the methodology, which was frequently participatory in name only.

In response, the research teams developed a tool—‘PLUP Fiction’—and tested it in the six villages of the Muongmuay Kumban (village cluster) in 2010. Villagers—half of whom were women—were trained to serve as members of the village land management committee using simulated zoning negotiations. The exercise helped participants to understand the potential economic and environmental consequences of establishing land use zones to protect natural resources in the area.

The visualisation and learning elements of the PLUP Fiction approach proved vital to its success. That success was reinforced by proactive networking between villages and with government officials, which was kicked off at a ‘Kumban Day’ in December.

Whilst the early results of this participatory action research are promising, its full impact is still to come. Meanwhile, work continues as the partners move to test the planning tools in other parts of the district.

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