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Vaishali set to upscale integrated and decentralized village planning

© UNICEF/ 2008
Vaishali District Magistrate Dr. Pratima, IAS (right) and UNICEF State Representative Bijaya Rajbhandari sign memorandum of understanding.

Priyanka Khanna

Bihar, Vaishali district: With the signing of a memorandum of understanding between the District Magistrate and UNICEF, Vaishali has become the first district in Bihar to upscale the development of integrated plans for grassroots-driven socio-economic progress managed by local communities.

The memorandum between Vaishali District Magistrate, Dr. Pratima, IAS, and UNICEF State Representative, Bijaya Rajbhandari was signed under the aegis of Bihar Development Commissioner, S. Vijayaragavan. This will enable the district to develop a consolidated district plan encapsulating the needs and aspirations of the local community, based on the significant outcomes of a pilot initiated in some parts of the district.

“This is an innovative idea where the focus will be on village-based planning. I am happy that all central schemes will be included in this process of decentralized district planning,” said Mr. Vijayaragavan.

“Vaishali has been chosen as a model district for this unique initiative,” remarked Mr. Bijaya Rajbhandari. He also said, “This decentralized planning model builds on the gains made under the village planning exercises carried out by UNICEF and its partners in the district. We are confident it will be a successful endeavour and will be replicated across the state.”

Under this initiative, UNICEF will support the setting up of a Decentralized Planning and Monitoring Cell at the district headquarter, which will facilitate local community members to evolve development plans in an integrated, participatory and coordinated manner. The Cell will also monitor the progress made against identified key results.

Each panchayat will be treated as a planning unit, and the ‘district plan’ will be developed through the consolidation and integration of these plans as well as taking into account the comprehensive development of the district.

Another expected outcome is that village volunteers – identified in each village – will follow-up on action plans and monitor key results. In addition, Village Information Centres will be opened in each village to provide information on important government schemes, and to disseminate publicity and information materials. These Centres are envisaged to play a critical role in building community awareness, as the literacy level –especially among women – is very low in Bihar.

A Village Information Board is also planned to bring transparency in government functioning at the community level, and help monitor key results, and funds received and utilized in the villages.

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