Participatory SLM Action Planning [Bhutan]

Yuenten Sazhi Zinchong Gi Chharzhi Tsamni Na Chamar Tokni (ཡུན་བརྟན་ས་གཞི་འཛིན་སྐྱོང་གི་འཆར་གཞི་བཙམ་ནི་ནང་བཅའ་མར་གཏོགས་ནི།)

approaches_6819 - Bhutan

Completeness: 94%

1. General information

1.2 Contact details of resource persons and institutions involved in the assessment and documentation of the Approach

Key resource person(s)

land user:

Drukpa Tashi Dorji



Nabchey་chiwog, Lingmukha gewog, Punakha Dzongkhag


land user:

Jigme Sonam



Nabchey chiwog, Lingmukha gewog, Punakha Dzongkhag


land user:

Dendrup Sonam



Nabchey chiwog, Lingmukha gewog, Punakha Dzongkhag


land user:

Wangmo Namgay


Nabchey chiwog, Lingmukha Gewog, Punakha Dzongkhag

Nabchey chiwog

land user:

Zangmo Kinga



Nabchey chiwog, Lingmukha gewog, Punakha Dzongkhag


Name of project which facilitated the documentation/ evaluation of the Approach (if relevant)
Strengthening national-level institutional and professional capacities of country Parties towards enhanced UNCCD monitoring and reporting – GEF 7 EA Umbrella II (GEF 7 UNCCD Enabling Activities_Umbrella II)

1.3 Conditions regarding the use of data documented through WOCAT

When were the data compiled (in the field)?


The compiler and key resource person(s) accept the conditions regarding the use of data documented through WOCAT:


2. Description of the SLM Approach

2.1 Short description of the Approach

Participatory SLM action planning is an approach that identifies community-based and land-based issues and challenges, establishes the root causes, and finds out mitigation measures to address the issues for enhancing rural livelihoods.

2.2 Detailed description of the Approach

Detailed description of the Approach:

Participatory SLM Action Planning (SLM AP) is a methodology intended to assess potential SLM interventions in order to address the most severe problems of land degradation. Priorities are determined by identifying the main local issues and their root causes, as well as land-based livelihoods and resources. All community households are included in SLM AP, which is conducted at the chiwog (village) levels. It incorporates Participatory Rural Appraisal (PRA) & Participatory Learning Action (PLA) tools such as natural resource mapping, problem censuses, cropping calendars, history lines, prioritization, ranking and ultimately drawing up a realistic SLM action plan. An external resource person facilitates the discussion while the community decides the final action plan. The process is very interactive and focus group discussions are organized specially for facilitating women’s active participation.
Prior to the SLM action planning exercise, sensitization to available SLM technologies is a must. The sensitization program includes pictorial presentations, relevant SLM audio visuals and displaying of SLM posters. After community sensitization on the first day, the actual SLM action planning exercise is conducted the next day. The participants can discuss with their family members and identify which interventions to incorporate in the plan. The stakeholders involved in the planning exercise consists of community members, local leaders, community civil servants and resource persons. The role of the local leader is to identify interventions that benefits the whole community such as community plantations, landslide stabilization along farm roads, community water source protection and a capacity building program for rural livelihood improvements.
Though this is a holistic bottom-up approach, some of the activities may not qualify for endorsement in the final action plan due to a limited budget and high-cost investments with few beneficiaries. The other drawback is that for every action plan, travel of 3 to 4 days is needed in in every chiwog. In general, the SLM action plan consists of individual household plans and a community SLM plan. Therefore, since every household is included and action plans drawn, land users are satisfied with the approach.

2.3 Photos of the Approach

2.5 Country/ region/ locations where the Approach has been applied



Region/ State/ Province:


Further specification of location:

Punakha, Nabchey, Lingmukha

2.6 Dates of initiation and termination of the Approach

Indicate year of initiation:


If precise year is not known, indicate approximate date when the Approach was initiated:

less than 10 years ago (recently)

2.7 Type of Approach

  • project/ programme based

2.8 Main aims/ objectives of the Approach

To assess potential SLM interventions in order to address the most severe problems with land degradation. Priorities are determined by identifying the main local issues and their root causes, as well as land-based livelihoods and resources.

2.9 Conditions enabling or hindering implementation of the Technology/ Technologies applied under the Approach

social/ cultural/ religious norms and values
  • enabling

Team building, Cooperation

availability/ access to financial resources and services
  • enabling

Project support

collaboration/ coordination of actors
  • enabling

All the stakeholders including from chiwog levels to Dzongkhag levels are involved in this approach

knowledge about SLM, access to technical support
  • enabling

They are aware of importance of SLM approaches and any related issues regarding the SLM are reported to gewog extension for further technical assistance.

workload, availability of manpower
  • enabling

Households helping each other during their work.

  • hindering

Labor shortages from few households

3. Participation and roles of stakeholders involved

3.1 Stakeholders involved in the Approach and their roles

  • local land users/ local communities

land users

Land users participation in SLM action plan and in program implementation

  • SLM specialists/ agricultural advisers

Department of Agriculture, National Soil Services Center

Provide technical services, facilitation roles, conducting periodic monitoring and progress reporting

  • local government

RNR extension staffs , Gewog administration staffs & Dzongkhag Agriculture staff

Program coordination, technical services and timely reporting

  • national government (planners, decision-makers)

Project management team

Providing funding support and field monitoring and reporting of project progress

  • international organization

Green climate fund

Provide financial support and impact assessment

If several stakeholders were involved, indicate lead agency:

Green climate fund

3.2 Involvement of local land users/ local communities in the different phases of the Approach
Involvement of local land users/ local communities Specify who was involved and describe activities
initiation/ motivation interactive Land users for participation and NSSC for technical support,
planning interactive Land users, Green climate fund, NSSC, local government
implementation interactive Land users, Green climate fund, NSSC, local government
monitoring/ evaluation interactive Local government, NSSC, Project Management Unit

3.3 Flow chart (if available)


Overview of network of stakeholders engaged in SLM action planning.


Haka Drukpa

3.4 Decision-making on the selection of SLM Technology/ Technologies

Specify who decided on the selection of the Technology/ Technologies to be implemented:
  • all relevant actors, as part of a participatory approach

After the sensitization on SLM technologies by the NSSC, the land users along with local government decides which technology to adopt considering the local conditions.

Specify on what basis decisions were made:
  • evaluation of well-documented SLM knowledge (evidence-based decision-making)

4. Technical support, capacity building, and knowledge management

4.1 Capacity building/ training

Was training provided to land users/ other stakeholders?


Specify who was trained:
  • land users
  • field staff/ advisers
If relevant, specify gender, age, status, ethnicity, etc.

Both female and male,

Form of training:
  • demonstration areas
Subjects covered:

The training consists of in house sensitization and practical demonstration in field. The training topics covers wide range including SLM technologies, Climate resilient practices, group formation for water user association and improved livestock management techniques


Each person from every household was involved in the training including local government officials.

4.2 Advisory service

Do land users have access to an advisory service?


Specify whether advisory service is provided:
  • on land users' fields
  • Extension office
Describe/ comments:

Technical services were provided in the field as well as in meetings.

4.3 Institution strengthening (organizational development)

Have institutions been established or strengthened through the Approach?
  • yes, a little
Specify the level(s) at which institutions have been strengthened or established:
  • local
Describe institution, roles and responsibilities, members, etc.

Informal labor sharing group were instituted facilitated by gewog extension officers to speed up the implementation of activities especially benefitting whole community such as water user group.

Specify type of support:
  • financial
  • capacity building/ training
  • equipment
Give further details:

Funds were provided by the project office on annual workplan basis. Technical assistance provided by NSSC/ARDC/Dzongkhag

4.4 Monitoring and evaluation

Is monitoring and evaluation part of the Approach?



Periodic monitoring was conducted by Project management Unit, NSSC, Dzongkhag while evaluation were carried out by private consultancy firms deputed by GCF project head office

If yes, is this documentation intended to be used for monitoring and evaluation?



The monitoring reports were submitted annually and presented in the workshops for follow ups.

4.5 Research

Was research part of the Approach?


5. Financing and external material support

5.1 Annual budget for the SLM component of the Approach

If precise annual budget is not known, indicate range:
  • 10,000-100,000
Comments (e.g. main sources of funding/ major donors):

This budget is for Punakha, Nabchey, Lingmukha funded by Green climate fund

5.2 Financial/ material support provided to land users

Did land users receive financial/ material support for implementing the Technology/ Technologies?


If yes, specify type(s) of support, conditions, and provider(s):

Financial support by Green climate fund on SLM technologies 1) Contour stone bunds construction : USD 61.00/per acre 2) Hedgerows: USD 85/acre, 3) Machine terracing: USD 854/acre, 4) Small (1-2 meter wide and depth) Check-dams construction: USD 18/dam .

5.3 Subsidies for specific inputs (including labour)

  • equipment
Specify which inputs were subsidised To which extent Specify subsidies
machinery fully financed Machines for bench terracing
tools partly financed Cost sharing (80% by Project, 20% by land user) Green house,
fuel fully financed fueling of government machines for terracing
  • agricultural
Specify which inputs were subsidised To which extent Specify subsidies
seeds fully financed Horticulture seeds and seedlings
fully financed
  • construction
Specify which inputs were subsidised To which extent Specify subsidies
stone partly financed stone check-dams (45% by project and 55% by land users
  • infrastructure
Specify which inputs were subsidised To which extent Specify subsidies
working lunch for labor partly financed
If labour by land users was a substantial input, was it:
  • food-for-work

When materials were freely provided by the project, labor were contributed by beneficiaries, For attending training, working lunch and refreshment were provided by the project

5.4 Credit

Was credit provided under the Approach for SLM activities?


5.5 Other incentives or instruments

Were other incentives or instruments used to promote implementation of SLM Technologies?


6. Impact analysis and concluding statements

6.1 Impacts of the Approach

Did the Approach empower local land users, improve stakeholder participation?
  • No
  • Yes, little
  • Yes, moderately
  • Yes, greatly

The decisions were made by the land users and the approach was well received.

Did the Approach enable evidence-based decision-making?
  • No
  • Yes, little
  • Yes, moderately
  • Yes, greatly

Land users were taken for short study visits to successful SLM sites where by decision made was supported by evidence based observation.

Did the Approach help land users to implement and maintain SLM Technologies?
  • No
  • Yes, little
  • Yes, moderately
  • Yes, greatly

Yes, they still practice and maintain the SLM technologies implemented in their field, however, since SLM interventions were of long term return investment requiring high labor, the adoption rate still remains moderate.

Did the Approach improve knowledge and capacities of land users to implement SLM?
  • No
  • Yes, little
  • Yes, moderately
  • Yes, greatly

Land users were trained on various technologies and advantages and some progressive farmers were scaling up at larger scale.

Yes, farmers know the importance of SLM technologies, climate change and build resilience to negative impacts

Farmers were forming informal SLM group and working on the farm in groups on rotational basis.

Did the Approach empower socially and economically disadvantaged groups?
  • No
  • Yes, little
  • Yes, moderately
  • Yes, greatly

As all the financial needs were fulfilled by GCF,

Did the Approach improve gender equality and empower women and girls?
  • No
  • Yes, little
  • Yes, moderately
  • Yes, greatly

Women were equally given opportunity to participate in planning and training program.

Did the Approach encourage young people/ the next generation of land users to engage in SLM?
  • No
  • Yes, little
  • Yes, moderately
  • Yes, greatly

Younger generations were facilitated to take up high tech technologies such as hydroponic, mega green house, drip irrigation and even supported with farm machineries power tillers on cost sharing basis.

Did the Approach improve issues of land tenure/ user rights that hindered implementation of SLM Technologies?
  • No
  • Yes, little
  • Yes, moderately
  • Yes, greatly

Vulnerable agriculture farm lands were brought under SLM

Did the Approach lead to improved food security/ improved nutrition?
  • No
  • Yes, little
  • Yes, moderately
  • Yes, greatly

Since vulnerable farm lands were brought under SLM, farmers were able to use farm machines, adopt new techniques which facilitated in improving food security and better nutritional up take.

Did the Approach lead to improved access to water and sanitation?
  • No
  • Yes, little
  • Yes, moderately
  • Yes, greatly

Improved irrigation water supplies to the farm land

Did the Approach improve the capacity of the land users to adapt to climate changes/ extremes and mitigate climate related disasters?
  • No
  • Yes, little
  • Yes, moderately
  • Yes, greatly

Since land degradation and Climate change were two side of same coin, the approach had educated the land users on impacts of climate change and accordingly adapt and build resilience.

Did the Approach lead to employment, income opportunities?
  • No
  • Yes, little
  • Yes, moderately
  • Yes, greatly

Few school drop outs were able to start a farm enterprise and were able to generate cash income and employment ( vegetable production)

6.2 Main motivation of land users to implement SLM

  • increased production

Once vulnerable farm land were brought under SLM, it was easier for land users to crop and maintain.

  • increased profit(ability), improved cost-benefit-ratio

The land users who adopted short term return technologies such as plastic mulching, green house were able to generate income from sale of vegetables.

  • reduced land degradation

The adoption of SLM technologies ( terracing, contour bund) have greatly reduced top soil losses which helped in improving soil fertility and conserving soil moisture.

  • reduced risk of disasters

The random plantation of grass and tree seedlings along the new farm road cutting sites, check dams construction in gullies and landslide stabilizations works have greatly reduced the risk of major landslide and gully formation.

  • reduced workload

land users workload were drastically reduced through farm mechanization. Even establishment of Napier grass hedgerows have made the work easier for women in collection of fodder for livestock.

  • payments/ subsidies

Cost sharing mechanism and subsidies payment by Project had also contributed in adoption of SLM technologies to larger scale.

  • affiliation to movement/ project/ group/ networks

Project funded all the cost and benefits encouraging people to work in collaboration with government and the project

  • environmental consciousness

Land users were sensitized on negative impacts of environment degradation especially poor management of natural resources and use of excessive fertilizers and chemicals.

  • enhanced SLM knowledge and skills

Most of the land users were aware of SLM and its importance.

  • aesthetic improvement

SLM technologies such as terracing, hedgerows establishment and contour bund had not only reduced surface soil erosion, but had significantly contributed in beautifying the overall landscape. Even plantation in landslide sites and along new road cuttings sites had stabilized with more green vegetations.

6.3 Sustainability of Approach activities

Can the land users sustain what has been implemented through the Approach (without external support)?
  • yes
If yes, describe how:

Most of the SLM interventions were of one time investment and maintenance cost were very minimum. The land users will be able to take care and incase of major issues, the funds will be supported by the local government for maintenance such as irrigation channel renovation.

6.4 Strengths/ advantages of the Approach

Strengths/ advantages/ opportunities in the land user’s view
The Participatory SLM planning approach is basically putting the farmers first and farmers last. Since the plan is developed by land users, they take full ownership which ensures sustainability of the program.
Improved social interaction and cohesion
Opportunity for mass sensitization on SLM and climate change to the land users
Strengths/ advantages/ opportunities in the compiler’s or other key resource person’s view
Best approach in empowering rural land users.
Experts needed to facilitate only
Ensures sustainability and successful program implementation

6.5 Weaknesses/ disadvantages of the Approach and ways of overcoming them

Weaknesses/ disadvantages/ risks in the land user’s view How can they be overcome?
Expertise and knowledge gap consult SLM specialist
Elite land users dominating the decision making power Give equal opportunity to all actors in decision making.
Poor participation or un-responsive participants during meetings Meeting to be attended by head of the household or one who can decide and have decision making power.
Weaknesses/ disadvantages/ risks in the compiler’s or other key resource person’s view How can they be overcome?
Difficult to fulfill all demands enlisted in the action plan ( ambitious plan). Some interventions are outside project scope while its of utmost importance to the community such as farm road construction, human wildlife conflicts and new irrigation channel construction requiring high investment. Sensitization on Project scope, its intended supports and forward the outside project activities to the local government for sourcing funds.
Taking program at chiwog level is time consuming and its resource intensive. Systematic planning and proper budget from initial phase
Some land users takes opportunity of the project support though its not much important to them ( free inputs). Periodic monitoring to ensure the proper utilization.

7. References and links

7.1 Methods/ sources of information

  • field visits, field surveys


  • interviews with land users


  • interviews with SLM specialists/ experts


7.2 References to available publications

Title, author, year, ISBN:

NSSC Bhutan catalogue of soil and water conservation approaches and technologies, 2012

Available from where? Costs?

National Soil Service Center, Department of Agriculture, Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock, RGOB.

Title, author, year, ISBN:

Agriculture land development guidelines (17th June 2017)

Available from where? Costs?

National Soil Service Center, Department of Agriculture, Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock, RGOB.

7.3 Links to relevant information which is available online

Title/ description:

Agriculture Land Development Guideline


Links and modules

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