The aim of village level catchment planning is to plan the activities of the village in an efficient and sustainable manner to achieve optimum benefits for all in the village, through making use of available resources in a sustainable and efficient manner. The process and purpose of the Village Level Action Plan (VLAP) is to empower the people of the village to make decisions and take responsibility for and promote the collective action for the sustainable management and utilisation of their natural resources. The VLAP is developed by the community of the village, for the community of the village. The plan accommodates the resources available to the village community and their needs.
Ultimately the village level plans contribute to the higher level overall Catchment Management Plan, and similarly where national strategic objectives are filtered down through this plan, these activities can be integrated into the VLAPs. The catchment plans at all scales need to be integrated, regularly monitored, revised and updated.
The VLAP sets out a vision towards which the community works; specifically a vision statement describes where the village wants to be in the next five (or ten) years (see Section 3.5.3, entitled “Step 3: Developing a vision” for an example). The vision is broken down into several goals; these address different sectors or aspects of catchment management and village life. Under each of these goals various activities are identified that need to be implemented in order to achieve the goals (e.g. water for drinking, erosion rehabilitation and prevention, improved soil fertility – all catchment management activities spanning different but related issues). Achieving the goals then realises the vision. Some of the activities will be carried out in the short term with rapid pay-back, other activities will be longer term with slower turn-around of benefits. It is good to have a good mix of activities to build trust in the plan. Seeing and reaping quick rewards strengthens confidence in the process and breeds positive attitudes. The longer term benefits are an investment in the catchment. Some activities will require the entire community to be involved in implementing; others may be limited to particular farms. The success of the plans lies in the whole community being involved and taking ownership of the plan and its implementation. Village level action planning incorporates the following principles: