PCR TOOL 7
Planning with the People
Working with affected communities to plan their
rebuilding and co-ordinate the response effectively,
according to the expressed needs of the communi-
ties, is one of the guiding principles of PCR
outlined in Tool 1, People-centred reconstruction
(PCR) : An Introduction. This tool looks at this
element of people-centred reconstruction in more
Levels of participation
There are different levels of participation by
people in planning, representing different levels
of engagement with the process (see Table below).
Conventional urban planning often only involved
participation up to level 2, ‘therapy’. Professional
planners would draw up maps and models of
proposed developments: a blueprint – so called
because they were usually drawn up using blue
ink. The plans were based on quantitative data,
rather than talking with local people. If they were
informed at all, it was after the plans were already
approved. There was no scope for dialogue, and any
complaints had to be pursued through the courts.
Similarly, a lot of post-disaster reconstruction in
the late 20th Century, has operated at levels 1-3 of
the table below. Donor-driven approaches in which
donors and governments work with large building
contractors to rebuild settlements, and force
people to relocate to them, operate at the level of
‘manipulation’. The problems with this approach
were outlined in Tool 1, PCR: An Introduction.
Participatory Planning outside disaster
Ideas of participatory planning of urban areas date
back to North America in the 1950s and 1960s.
They were a response to a situation in which
neighbourhoods were highly differentiated from
each other in terms of ethnicity and socio-economic
status. Each group needed, and was demanding, an
opportunity to present its requirements to planners.
Some level of public participation in planning
became more common in Western countries during
the 1970s and 1980s. The Planning for Real
initiative, for example, was developed in the UK
by Dr Tony Gibson and others in the 1970s, and
disseminated through the Neighbourhood Initiatives
Foundation (see resource list).
These practices, however, have taken far longer
to be taken up by planners in developing countries.
One notable exception was the Million Houses
Programme in Sri Lanka (1984-1989). Here,
facilitators were trained in micro-planning of new
neighbourhoods with groups of 60-250 households.
See Tool 5: Learning from the Housing Sector for
more details, and also Goethert and Hamdi (1988).
Participatory tools are commonly used by
development practitioners worldwide today.
Both communities and facilitators find they
learn a lot through the process. Some of those
useful in reconstruction situations are outlined
Levels of Citizen Participation, Arnstein (1969)
7. Delegated Power
8. Citizen Power
With high levels of participation in planning, people can feel
empowered and confident