This article gives account of experiences from a community based planning (CBP) project in Uganda, which was part of DFID funded action research project covering Uganda, Zimbabwe, Ghana, and South Africa. After a steering group was formed, a review of the diverse approaches to CBP applied in Uganda was commissioned and a national workshop was held to discuss the lessons emerging form the study. Some of the issues that emerged included difficulties in the currently employed PRA (Participatory Rural Appraisal) methods to identify root causes of problems such as poverty, and rarely address issues such as gender, environment or HIV/AIDS; lack of coordination in planning approaches; CBP was used mainly for voicing the need of lower level stakeholders and rarely used for community mobilisation, identification of opportunities, or influencing local decision making; and planning with local governments remained highly sectoral. To begin the development of a CBP approach on to lower level local government planning in Uganda, it was decided to pilot the approach in the Bushenyi district. The article describes the initial experiences in Bushenyi and the creation of national guidelines for CBP. It goes on to look at innovations in the use of participatory methodologies in the CBP programme and lessons learnt, such as a shift towards a vision-based focus to complement the needs-based approach; a new emphasis on lower level participatory planning; planning based on interest groups; involvement of non-council stakeholders; harmonisation with local government budget frameworks. Finally, visions for the future development of CBM in Uganda are shared.
International Institute for Environment and Development