Community Planning: Making Planning Work

Casestudy 19Nigeria
Dynamic Planning for an integrated
development strategy in the Niger Delta

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This case argues that integrated planning as ‘management of change’ requires several anticipatory or ‘scenario constructing’ skills and techniques, key among them being the ability to see the environment as a multi-dimensional set of interactions.

The concept of Dynamic Planning was developed by a planning consultancy and applied in the Niger Delta region of Nigeria. The name reflects the focus on dynamic processes of change, brought on by the dynamic relationships between stakeholders and planners that are explored during consultative workshops, and the dynamic plans for management of change, which encompassdelivery and are capable of adaptation to new phenomena. Various tools and techniques have been adapted from ‘game theory’ and other interactive techniques that have developed out of participatory scenario-writing and ‘rational choice theory’ for each stage of the plan-making process.

The process starts with ‘consultation’, which is focused and structured. Selected participants who represent the main actors in the public, private, NGO and community sectors are asked first to define the ‘problems’ (who is affected, who benefits and so on), then jointly draw diagrams of ongoing processes with their inter-related ‘roots’ of the problems. This exercise, managed by a planner, has proved very productive, building new knowledge and mutual understanding among members of the group. It produces ideas for a wide range of potential interventions.

This is followed by the exploration of potential strategies for change, rather than just a compilation of proposed interventions. Integrating various interventions into a coherent strategy is done with an eye on a process of change: how the resources available can be used to influence future activities and trends, bearing in mind the linkages between activities. For example, what actions would have to be taken by an education authority, public transport providers, the police, land use planners and perhaps house builders in order to influence a certain socio-economic group to return to live in a town centre? 

Selecting between alternative strategies or interventions is also related to the core concept of process and stakeholders. The options have to be assessed in terms of their feasibility and their impacts. Feasibility, namely the likelihood of the process of future change materializing, can be put to the test in discussion with ‘active stakeholders’ of all sectors whose decisions and actions will affect the change. Impacts are the way the changes throughout the process will be experienced by recipient stakeholders. Impacts will be created as repercussions from each step of implementation, not only from the ‘final outcome’. Putting their heads together, both active and recipient stakeholders can contribute to drawing the total picture of likely impacts. The approach should reveal not only the achievement of desired objectives, but also predictable side effects that may be beneficial or detrimental, thereby contributing to the sustainability of the planning and development process as a continuum.

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Dalia Lichfield
Dalia Lichfield

Lichfield Planning
51 Chalton Street
London NW1 1HY
This special feature sponsored by the Department for International Development (DFID) and the Royal Town Planning Institute (RTPI)


Last updated on:15 April 2009