Training on voting: participants learn to surmount later disputes on development schemes

Recently, members of a Community Based Organization (CBO) from Rokhan Khel in the Frontier Region Peshawar participated in a training workshop to learn methods for reaching consensus on sustainable decisions for development projects in their community. The workshop used a transferable, participatory and conflict sensitive game to facilitate the transparent to reach to a lasting consensus, not merely consensus.

Armando Geller, consultant FDP, guides participants in the scheme selection exercise of villages during the Development Games workshop. Enlarge image (© GiZ) First of all, participants indicated on a map of Rokhan Khel where they live and placed two development projects that would cater their needs. Participants proposed projects such as street pavement, water supply, irrigation, protection walls, agriculture development and the like.

The representatives from the CBOs were then asked to vote on other people’s projects in front of everyone. After counting the votes, only the top four projects were retained. Next, participants were told that due to budget cuts only two of the four projects could be implemented, and that they could vote again on the top two projects they wished to keep. Contributors whose projects were eliminated could air their concerns in order for the group to realise that public voting or consultations alone does not lead to fairness and lasting consensus.

To find fair schemes, participants were asked to cast another set of votes; this time, without knowing who would profit from which and keeping only the schemes that received the highest number of votes. The results were astonishing: Participants chose a protection wall and an agriculture training project that benefited the entire community. Being left in the dark about whether they would profit from a scheme, participants decided in favour of community interests instead of personal interests, leaving everyone better off.

Vice-President of the CBO, Sahib Khan, told the Independent Project Reporting (IPR) team that this exercise ensured fair selection of the projects through voting. “This practice guarantees choice of schemes without quarrelling and disputes,” he added.

The workshop was organized by the Livelihood component of FATA Development Programme. The programme is commissioned by the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) and co-funded by the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC), the French Agency for Development (AFD) and being implemented by the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH.

Participants developing Metaplan about uplift of the schemes during the workshop. Enlarge image (© GiZ)