A bombshell Evaluation of Community Driven Development

Blimey. Just read a bombshell of a working paper assessing the evidence for impact of Community-Driven Development (CDD) programmes. It’s pretty devastating. But make sure you read the comments below , with some arguments for and against by some of the biggest names on the issue.

3IE has a one word answer….

In CDD, community members are in charge of identifying, implementing and maintaining externally funded development projects. CDD programmes have been implemented in low- and middle-income countries to fund the building or rehabilitation of schools, water supply and sanitation systems, health facilities, roads, and other kinds of public infrastructure.

The archetype is Indonesia’s World Bank financed Kecamatan Development Project, launched in 1998, the brainchild of charismatic anthropologist Scott Guggenheim, who is currently working in Afghanistan, as senior advisor to President Ashraf Ghani.

The evaluation is by the International Initiative for Impact Evaluation (3IE), which summarizes CDD’s evolution thus:

‘Over the last three decades, they have evolved from being a response to mitigate the social cost of economic structural adjustment to becoming an alternative delivery mechanism for social services that link directly with communities. In addition, since the 2000s, there has been more emphasis on using CDD programmes for building social cohesion, increasing decentralisation and improving governance.’

3IE cast its baleful eye over the evidence from 25 impact evaluations, covering 23 CDD programmes in 21 low- and middle-income countries and concluded.

  • CDD programmes have no impact on social cohesion or governance.
  • Many community members may hear about CDD programmes but not many attend meetings.
  • Few people speak at the meeting and fewer still participate in decision-making.
  • Women are only half as likely as men to be aware of CDD programmes and even less likely to attend or speak at community meetings.
  • CDD programmes have made a substantial contribution to improving the quantity of small-scale infrastructure.
  • They have a weak effect on health outcomes and mostly insignificant effects on education and other welfare outcomes.
  • There is impact on improved water supply leading to time savings.

Okaaay. Digging into the findings, they conclude that part of the problem is the focus on building stuff. ‘Investments in water-related infrastructure have reduced the time required for collecting water. These programmes slightly improve health- and water-related outcomes, but not education outcomes. Their lack of impact on higher-order outcomes can be explained by the focus on infrastructure.’

If you ask meetings dominated by men what they need, they will usually say ‘a road’ or other piece of infrastructure, so perhaps this isn’t that surprising.

The analysis also found that ‘This approach has been successful in achieving greater resource allocation to poorer areas, although not always to the poorest communities in those areas.’ That also could reflect the dangers of treating ‘the community’ as a single entity, rather than understanding it as a complex system of power in which some groups dominate others (men v women, less poor v more poor, able bodied v disabled).

Finally, the paper worries about the sustainability issues, because it finds that CDD projects often set up parallel systems to deliver the water, sanitation, roads, housing or whatever ‘the community’ decides on, but ‘These parallel structures may alienate community leaders. The function of these governance structures is also often not clear once the community projects end.’

Without knowing much about it, I’d always vaguely thought that CDD must be a Good Thing. On the basis of this paper, I probably have to revise that opinion, but what do any CDD experts reading this post think?

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22 Responses to “A bombshell Evaluation of Community Driven Development”
  1. Denika Blacklock

    Actually I would have to agree with each of those findings. I often find when designing M&E frameworks that convincing stakeholders (govt, community leaders) that achieving higher level outcomes (ie reduce poverty in district X) the targets should not be about quantity (# of infrastructure investments, #direct/indirect beneficiaries) but quality: are we reaching the poorest people, the most remote villages. There’s a real belief that CDD, whether on budget or off budget, needs to be justified by the # of ppl in the community who ‘benefit’ (which also needs to be better defined). Moreover, in the era of ‘value for money’ it’s difficult to convince donors that sometimes less is more – maybe we only reached 200 HH (out of 3500 in the district for example) but the interventions would have meaningful, lasting impact on this HH because they are routinely ‘left behind.’ In reality, CDD has all the bones to be a really terrific way to do devt, but ensuring that objectives are clear and what the ‘benefit’ is expected to be, and how we will collect evidence to determine if intended beneficiaries are actually benefitting – that’s where CDD tends to fall well shirt of the mark.

  2. Varja

    Hi Duncan – I really appreciate this paper and the unequivocal phrasing is of its findings. I think the “funnel of attrition” is particularly important and a great reality check whenever thinking about what it means for a “community” to participate in anything. The problem I have however is that the projects described don’t strike me as being particularly community driven. The CDD model (as implemented in the studies reviewed) was based on infrastructure projects, which as the paper says in late 1990’s and early 2000’s morphed into decentralized models and needed local governance components. Indeed, one of the inclusion criteria for the review (of 23 programs) was that it “…focus mainly on public infrastructure.” The description of what was within community control and what wasn’t (summarized across the projects) is sobering. And while all of the programs have two sets of outcomes (improved infrastructure, and improved cohesion & governance), the TOC seems really weak on the second set. It basically says just that communities which do “learning by doing” will have improved cohesion & governance — but this level of (frankly sloppy) theorizing wouldn’t pass within most governance-focused programs or initiatives, as it’s devoid of understanding of levels of formal & informal authority, power dynamics, interactions between key actors, etc. Perhaps individual projects had more detailed TOCs but that’s not evident from the review paper. In other words, what I read was that if you simply add some community participation stuff on top of infrastructure projects, you find that that the voices which dominated infrastructure (men, established leaders, etc.) continue to dominate; and you also find that while some stuff gets build, social cohesion & governance aren’t much better. Which I agree with — but then I don’t think we are really evaluating community driven development. Which of course raises the question of what would be examples of “real” (or at least more convincing) community-driven development initiatives, and have they been evaluated and what do the results say? To be honest, I would stop looking for externally dictated projects and look at more “homegrown” initiatives (perhaps the participatory budgeting in Brazil may be an example; though recent assessment of the replications of this program gives also very mixed reviews https://www.mysociety.org/files/2018/01/Participatory-Budgeting-research-by-mySociety-Jan-2018.pdf).

  3. Tom

    Scott Guggenheim has a recent paper setting out his view of the CDD experience – you can read between the lines on how he might respond to the review (he the summarises same basic critique you set out above but only refers to Masuri & Rao’s 2013 book, Localizing Development https://openknowledge.worldbank.org/bitstream/handle/10986/11859/9780821382561.pdf?sequence=1&isAllowed=y).
    There’s a nice summary of his views at the end of the paper: “This paper has made three key arguments. The first is that CDD constitutes an important new tool for policy makers. The empirical evidence from evaluations confirms that CDD programs produce large amounts of badly needed, productive economic infrastructure at reasonable cost and quality. They also provide villagers, especially the disadvantaged, with a voice in how development funds are used to improve their welfare. CDD programs have proven to be particularly useful where government institutions are weak or under stress, both because CDD programs can act quickly over large areas, and because they can place relatively few demands on over-stretched government institutions.
    The second argument is that CDD programs are not a homogeneous category. There are important distinctions to be made between national, on-budget, multi-year programs, and off-budget programs. Each may have their place, but they are not the same thing.
    The third argument is that CDD works best and achieves the greatest results when it is part of a broader development strategy that includes reforms to governance, investments in productivity, and integration with efforts to improve the quality of public service delivery.”

    I wouldn’t underestimate the importance of delivering basic infrastructure, especially in conflict-affected settings/fragile states. I’m not sure his third point adds much as that could be said of virtually any policy you could care to think of!

  4. Sam

    Two toughts:

    One thing is the illusion that in some way moral imperatives must also be economically beneficial. And things that are economically beneficial are also morally sound. Catholics would never be so naive…. The world is not that simple.
    Girls’ education is important because it is the right thing to do, not because there are (more often than not flawed) studies claiming it contributes to richness. We all remember the Burnside and Dollar paper claiming that aid works only in a good governance environment… the basis for the whole Busan agreement, but, with hindsight, a very flawed paper and agreement, now, after the book “How China…” mostly forgotten.

    So participation is probably a moral imperative, and not so much because it makes economic sense, but more because it feels good as a society to listen to all voices, even “them”.

    Secondly, this sounds like a typical participative-manipulative project to me, where the participants know they can get whatever color of car, as long as it is black; whatever investment project as long as you build a school or build a water system. Or depending on the region, donor and the flavor of the day: chicken investment, brick making machine, credit union, etc. Neo-colonialims has many faces of paternalism, and one of the ugliest is when they make the local population jump hoops and attend long meetings for getting the basic infrastructure that should be delivered to them by any responsible government. Perhaps the role of local communities is more in needs closer to home, like the annual village fair, a church or child care, whatever they need, without listening to my suggestions.

  5. In 2005, we in SRSP were managing two different community driven programmes when the earthquake hit us in north eastern Pakistan. Both these projects were funded by different multilateral donors and had a different design. In the first project, which was larger ,of the two, we helped in building communities, in a large area development programme, where the government lines agencies delivered different inputs and activities to the communities; in the second project we had the freedom to deliver different set of activities to the communities through our own technical assistance teams. When the earthquake struck the environment around these project totally changed. There were over 80,000 dead, thousands of houses and livelihoods and basic infrastructure were destroyed. It was interesting to note that the first project which had a larger number of staff just became ossified and was unable to respond to the change in the environment despite the presence of staff and resources and mobilised communities. The design did not allow it. The second project, responded and grew in size. Within a year it had become the biggest community driven house building programme helping build over 60,000 houses, besides helping rebuild drinking water projects, irrigation channels, roads and schools. All while working with the communities directly. In this case the design of the project allowed the communities and us to respond to a changed environment. What we concluded was that there are two parts to an equation in community driven development. On one side are the communities firmly embedded in their local context and culture. Within the communities are varying levels of capacity for self help and resilience. Can this be tapped for their development? All organisations are not capable of doing this. You need organisations that are flexible, responsive, adaptive and people centered. This would vary with each organisation. The level of trust that an organisation would be able to generate within the communities would be dependent on this capacity to be flexible, responsive, adaptive and people centered. In the two projects I mentioned there was little capacity in the first project while it certainly was there in the second because of its design. An outside evaluator could easily miss out these subtleties and attribute the failure in the first case to that of CDD like your bombshell. There are instances of this. In the province where we operate there have been five major community driven projects since the nineties funded by ADB, IFAD and the provincial government. The first of these was implemented in the nineties. A decade after the project was delivered I happen to be sitting in a workshop in a big hotel where the bank was narrating how successful the first project had been on the basis of evaluation done by the bank. Luckily I had worked in the district where it had operated and seen it work closely. My question was that the Bank and IFAD subsequently funded three community driven programmes in the province , at least one of them was considered a total failure and the other two partial successes. But what was interesting was that the design adopted by the donors to deliver CDD in these projects did not incorporate what was considered by the bank as a highly successful design in the first project. Indeed because of politics the most parts of the design which made it most successful in the first project was dropped in the subsequent projects. Those who evalutated CDD would very easily allege that CDD had been a failure while they were failures of the design or a failure to fulfill the second part of the equation. Its also interesting that there is a sense that the first part of the equation would also lead to some kind of linear development of social capital and institutions in all the projects. Even in the 26 districts and 6 tribal agencies where we operate we find that each district is distinct in terms of their culture, political composition and power structures, history of collective action, space they are willing to give to women activities and even disabilities within the communities. It would be too much to expect that they would produce a similar response, the same kind of social capital and similar forms of collective action. In CDD we need to learn to respect this diversity. In most of the projects that the World Bank funds for community development the world bank procurement rules for communities are so inelastic and out of tune with community reality that the second part of the equation remains a distant dream. Its too much to expect that the Solidarity Programme in Afghanistan and the Rural Support Programmes in Pakistan would produce similar response to community development. In the former the community driven development is built firmly within the government structures while in the latter its built outside the government structures giving much greater space for community initiative and community agency. I have my doubts that evaluation such as these ones address these issues. I find that CDD remains one of the best way of reaching communities who otherwise would not be reached by the State or any other agency. Some of the most positive change in communities in Pakistan towards education and health have taken place in areas where community programmes have been in place for decades giving them a chance to show impact.

  6. I had experience implementing a CDD project hands on back in the 2000s, and to me the missing link was always in how these projects did little to support stronger governance (local, subnational, or national). Even when designed to include local government as a stakeholder in project decision making, there was no getting around the fact that these projects were done as a replacement for government action, often because there was a clear lack of trust in the government to build this infrastructure itself (or to be consultative in how it chose projects in which to invest). There were of course also problems with moving from small infrastructure to larger projects that would benefit wider areas beyond communities, which was linked to the lack of connection between government planning (often moving from national to subnational level) and CDD (going from local communities making decisions to eventually clustering projects into larger projects). The theory that getting citizens (particularly those with low income and little power) engaged at local level in CDD would contribute to greater engagement in policy making and democratic processes was always a bit shaky to me, because it is a big leap from attending CDD meetings to joining political parties, running for office, and even voting. I never saw any clear (and successful) effort to link the goals of community development and democratic strengthening, though in theory it could happen with clever project design and would be interesting to see it tested.

    • ” these projects were done as a replacement for government action,”

      You have hit the nail on the head.

      One of the most difficult things is for the relationships between citizens and their government to improve. This is critical for any sort of service delivery concern. It’s also a very touchy issue, as it is not the place of foreigners to tell governments how to work with their citizens. Supporting economic development and long-term mechanisms that foster improved service delivery governance seem to me to be a couple of long-term ways to improve things. Not easy endeavors.

  7. Scott Guggenheim

    Hi guys,

    It’s Eid preparations time out here in Indonesia, so a proper response will have to wait until the hordes of relatives go back to their normal lives, but I do think there’s more “shell” than “bomb” here. And it was helpful of Sam to cite the review paper that Susan Wong and I did recently, which reviewed a lot of the same evidentiary sources that they did.

    Without getting into technical nitty-gritty, the first problem is that the 3 ie report puts in so many standards of statistical sampling rigor that in the end they review a fairly small set of studies, and even the ones that are left are chosen simply because they are randomized evaluations, not because they are evaluating what would otherwise be a comparable set of programs. So huge, multi-year programs funded through government’s national budgets are one datapoint – a datapoint that has the exact same weight as a small, one-off grant. Interval periods also vary wildly.

    Smushing together such disparate designs has a second problem. What are the divisions between what the government does and what communities and NGOs do is the key design question for a CDD program. I tend towards the neoliberal version: let the government regulate and evaluate but give NGOs and communities the operational roles. But not all projects do this. In her 2016 paper comparing Kenyan and Indonesian CDD projects, Jean Ensminger pointed out that CDD programs themselves vary a tremendous amount in ways that surely affect outcomes. This variance is particularly pronounced in almost every one of the areas that 3ie wants to measure: who handles procurement (government or communities); do audits take place; is there a working complaints handling mechanism; are facilitators qualified or just civil servants tasked with another job, and so on. These distinctions are simply not even relevant to 3ie.

    The reviews cited are pretty much all funded by donors, which means that they’re tied to a donor project cycle. But if there are going to be governance, cultural, or institutional effects from a CDD (or any) operation, they’re going to take a while. This problem of doing evaluations too soon reached a climax in a draft version of one national program evaluation, which tried to measure the economic rates of return before the infrastructure had been completed. Big surprise that a half-finished bridge has about the same economic return as no bridge. (This issue of short intervals and no long-term evaluation series to capture cumulative effects has been a big problem for people trying to use more rigorous evaluation methodologies. For academics, the rewards are just for the first RCT, not the second one, while the methodology is so expensive to do at scale that it is almost always tied to the availability of a large development program).

    Second, the review’s claim that “CDD programmes have not had an overall impact on economic outcomes” – they only exempt Philippines Kalahi CIDSS from this claim – is simply put, false. The independent evaluation of Indonesia’s nationwide PNPM programs found consumption gains of 11 percentage points for the poorest. GoBifo found improvements to both household assets and market activity. BRA-KDP found an 11% decline in the share of villagers classified by village heads as poor. The Atos study of NSP (cost-benefit, not a randomized IE and so excluded by 3ie) found that beneficiaries of land with improved irrigation reported crop yield increases of over 11 percent per harvest for their main crop, wheat, along with improvements in food availability for home consumption, while those who built roads found reductions in travel costs of 34 percent for goods, with an increase in the volume of goods transported of nine percent, and this in the middle of a rising conflict that was disrupting nearly all other forms of service delivery. Casey’s review of 7 CDD operations that used randomized evaluation designs – including several of the ones reviewed by 3ie — found improvements to household asset levels, employment, and market activity. Not being an evaluation specialist myself, one does have to wonder how so many specialists can review the same set of primary studies and reach such differing conclusions, but I can tell you that one reason why people resist some of this huge push for evidence-based policy is that there is so much constant squabbling by the specialists about what the evidence actually is.

    The third problem with the 3ie review is that it faults CDD programs for not producing impacts that they never claimed to be achieving. Why would anyone expect a village infrastructure program to produce changes to health or education, especially over the short term of most evaluation periods? For that to happen you need teachers and books; nurses and medicines. Of course, you increase the likelihood of those being properly done when education and health ministries can focus on teacher and nurse training rather than the many wondrous benefits of having your education people spend all of their time contracting for buildings. What CDD offers is a way to build those same buildings at half the price, in places where the villagers actually want them to be located, and with virtually all of the spending on construction going to communities instead of to contractors (and officials).

    The fourth issue is that to be constructive and useful, the most useful evaluation would have been to compare CDD programs against the next best alternative. But for that there seems to be no comparable data at all, other than anecdotal or partial information. Here the review waffles – but, as usual, tilts against CDD by saying that it is not clear if CDD programs are more cost effective, especially compared with local governments. But even with the lack of full comparable cost-benefit data, the evidence is pretty conclusive that on some simple indicators such as levels of corruption, unit costs, popularity among villagers, etc, the CDD programs do quite well (or more traditional programs do quite badly). Afghanistan, Indonesia, Philippines and other national CDD programs consistently find very large cost savings coming from CDD operations. Without being too nerdy about it, the evidence includes multiple cost-benefit studies, technical quality reviews, and unit cost figures. The problem in this case isn’t with what CDD measures, but the fact that such studies are not being done on the alternative options that 3ie is referring to. Even so, if you can reduce unit costs in a country by 30%, we don’t need another million-dollar, multi-year RCT to conclude that this is already something worth doing. This relative efficiency matters a lot when poor countries are trying to cover large numbers of poor and isolated areas. In several of the areas of their findings, there is available evidence on what the “next best” or “without” alternative looks like. Getting women’s participation in public village meetings up to 30% in Afghanistan is surely not good enough, but it’s a lot better than what standard development or traditional meetings, where it is less than 5% and in fact in most places, it is zero. And, of course, it would be great if the women always spoke up more or had more decisive roles in each and every meeting, but you can be sure that their voices will remain at zero if they aren’t even in the room.

    I had to laugh at Tom’s very correct point that Susan and my third recommendation in our paper that he cites – to think about strategy rather than just individual projects — is a bit inane and obvious, is indeed something you could say about any project, but we did think that it bears repeating because of the naivete of expectations about what a CDD project can achieve. Development projects are not social movements. Changing historically developed and inherited patterns of class, gender, ethnic polarization and the like will not come by building lots of clean water points, no matter how much villagers enjoy the process of planning and managing them. Those are deeply political changes that require broader processes of political, cultural, and class change than any development project should ever claim to be able achieve. Nor will an investment of 8 bucks or so per year solve village poverty, either. That requires a lot more political commitment, mobilization, and money than any one project can provide. And regardless of class regime, reducing poverty will also require some serious structural changes to the economy, like large scale movements to cities, industrialization, and big improvement to education and health. Susan and I did point out that proponents of CDD are as guilty of overdoing the claims on social change stemming from CDD as the critics are of trashing CDD because poverty didn’t disappear as soon as the wells began pumping water.

    But that CDD cannot achieve such results does not mean that it cannot support broader processes that do bring about change. Afghanistan’s big CDD program has moved on from just being about village infrastructure to helping the villagers absorb the two million people being pushed back from Pakistan. And in a series of national workshops, it was the community representatives who proposed raising the gender targets from 30% to 50% — which, after launching the program in 7,000 villages earlier this year, they have almost achieved. In Afghanistan. Does this mean that poor women’s lives are permanently transformed? Of course not. But do the changes that have happened matter? It’s hard to think that they don’t – the qualitative interviews with hundreds of women sure say that they do — and one of the more rewarding benefits of reviewing the non-quantitative work is to see how the “women’s mobility mapping” that is a standard part of the CDD planning process there is seeing tribal elders convinced that they should broaden the “safe” areas for women’s unaccompanied travel. In Indonesia and the Philippines, the governments (but not, unsurprisingly, the donors) are coupling their CDD programs with their national cash transfer and primary education and health programs as part of their push to reduce poverty. And so on. The point here is that while it is useful to carry out rigorous evaluations of individual projects, the real action for talking about governance and socio-economic change across large class formations will not be at that level, but evaluation methodologies such as those being used by 3ie are not able to address questions of this sort.

    Finally, the points about neo-colonial development style interventions and the “just provide them with normal services’ are fair and things that anyone in development should always be wrestling with. Indeed, they should be getting normal services. Unfortunately, they’re poor, so they don’t.

    Let me close with just a couple of last comments. People often mis-gauge where CDD programs come from. Indonesia’s large CDD program, which was one of the earliest, was first started by the Indonesians, not the World Bank, through a presidential initiative called “Inpres Desa Tertinggal”. The Bank did help scale it up and brought along some improvements to its approach to management, but the origins are 100% Indonesian. The Philippines similarly has a long history of both government and grassroots CDD work – the “innovation” was not teaching the villagers or Philippine NGOs didn’t already know, but showing how donors and governments could do it to scale using national systems for finance and management. In fact, in my experience there are very few countries where the governments are not already doing some form of community development. The biggest design problem has always been convincing donors that for this level of work you don’t need all of that contracting, paperwork, and technical assistance that is what so much development money gets spent on. A lot of the work to prepare a CDD program consists of stripping all that stuff away, testing out whether the language and concepts being used even make sense to villagers, and then stripping away some more forms and procedures. Though he is probably squirming in discomfort, from the beginning my own CDD work drew on James Scott’s “Seeing Like a State,” which was really quite revelatory in showing how so much of the development paraphernalia was playing a hegemonic, appropriating function without adding any real value beyond mystification. In fact, the single biggest challenge we continue to face in CDD programs is the inexorable urge to “complexify” them. CDD programs that don’t take the time every few years to strip away the layers of unnecessary formats and endless demands for reporting data that governments, donors, and researchers keep piling onto them, like dockworkers stripping away the barnacles off a ship’s hull, soon find themselves becoming incomprehensible to villagers but a great way for local officials and elites to siphon off money.

    Amidst all of the talk of bombshells and failure to achieve transformational results in governance, let’s also not lose sight of the area that that CDD programs provide very large amounts of really badly needed basic economic infrastructure to poor communities in ways that largely match community priorities. This would be no small deal even if there were no other benefits. It would be great if line ministries, village fairs, or NGOs were already doing this in all of these places, but the fact is that for decades those villages got nothing. Now they do.

  8. Paul Lundberg

    I am surprised Indonesia is cited as the initiation of CDD. The same approach ran in Cambodia for more than a decade before KDP got started. Interestingly, the Cambodia program was ended when the Government felt strong enough to hold village council elections in 2001. But why is this ‘bombshell’ news? This report is a synthesis of 25 other evaluations all saying the same thing. These findings replicate precisely what, since 2004, former Afghan Deputy Interior Minister Shah Mahmood Miakhel has been telling everyone in Kabul who would listen. A deeper question is: Why weren’t people listening? Despite clear understanding of their limitations, why have CDD programs continued to flourish? I submit the answer is in following the money. World Bank officers and BINGO lobbyists created a lucrative business by convincing donors that virtue signaling is more important than building systems of effective local governance. And they fought tooth and nail to ensure that the truth never get out. Jennifer Brick Murtazashvili had her funding stopped because her community level field research was making these very same critiques of the Afghan National Solidarity Program (the CDD mothership) in 2009. The BINGO role has been greatly reduced and now it is donor-financed government agencies that have the incentive to ensure their funding flows are sustainable. Channeling funds to ‘community organizations’ always seems to end up being the warmer and fuzzier option to building the capacity of elected local governments…systems that have a greater chance of surviving “Shrinking Aid Flows”.

  9. Masood

    In a complex and deeply uncertain context, it is still a plus for the CDD that it had at least made some impacts! So the outcome should not come as surprise at all. By now not only CDD but any externally funded projects, which are in their third or fourth generations, if evaluated, I am afraid impact level change would be difficult to measure. Desired impacts such as social cohesion, greater and more effective participation of women, attendance and participatory decision making etc are not issues that can be achieved through short term funding of a bridge, clinic or water canal. In my view, these are deep and complex social issues that would take time to overcome and require a comprehensive and inclusive political reform process. Local governance in Afghanistan has either been overlooked or superficially addressed through injection of funds to projects copied from elsewhere. This is one of the main problem in our country that the ownership unfortunately has not been with Afghans. The same is true about NPPs and other programmes which were rushed through a false consultation process with ministries to be ready for stamping before an international event. Unfortunately, due to spending pressure and other reasons such as painting a false picture or lack of access to data, even those who flagged the breakneck gaps in the past have been ignored. These are hard lessons to learn but I afraid we are not doing it in the right way.
    Masood Amer

    • Jake Allen

      Sorry, what was the middle thing again? 😉

      Kidding – what an amazing discussion! Pretty much every aspect of development covered in this, past, present and future.

  10. CDD or other acronyms and efforts aiming at the same type of process have been around for many years. I have docs from Nepal indicating such from the 50s and later. Reasons for its considerable impermanence include what Paul Lundberg has mentioned (above) as well as:
    a) Despite good intentions, inappropriate processes without comprehensive understanding of local culture, including political culture and decision-making
    b) Debilitatingly short time horizons within which goals cannot be reached. Certain socio-cultural changes need several generations to become embedded IF properly planned and approached.
    Many projects refuse to discontinue useless or ineffective work because the implementer would lose its overhead profits. I have seen this with NGOs and universities.

  11. Sue Cant

    Thx Duncan for drawing attention to CDD, which has played a huge role in convincing developing country bureaucrats that community participation actually matters for better governance and better targetted service delivery. The PNPM program has been hugely influential in the take up of social accountability policies and practice in Indonesia, which requires the kind of intangible M&E that is not possible through RCTs. Scott Guggenheim is BRILLIANT and has been a catalyst to drive more responsive development at the bank. The trouble, which Scott recognises, is that scaling this work – in a way that empowers women, children and those more marginalised members of communities – becomes a struggle when there is little value placed on the human beings that ‘facilitate’ the CDD process of participatory decision making. There is too little understanding by donor staff and governments of the investment that is needed in high quality facilitation to support active citizenship. Scott once said show me an RCT on the value of facilitation and I will use it to lobby internally. Every time WV write in $$$ in grants for good quality facilitators for our social accountability work we have to fight for the small salaries of these facilitators who are the ones that help members of the community to become good facilitators of others and drive local development and government accountability. It’s a slow but effective process but we need investment in research to understand how to scale it and this is where CDD succeeds in internal bank arguments as a model for scaling. But you cant get women, children, PWDs, marginalised ethnic groups to speak without strong facilitation. This is the bread and butter of empowerment processes and it remains unrecognised by donor staff who often have never worked at the field level. CDD suffers from poor facilitation,and thats why men dominate in the processes. Scott may say otherwise but CDD is not social accountability – it is not really about building active citizenship. Participants are relatively passive, as they sit waiting for donor money – via government systems – to be funnelled down the system to them via a donor – they dont have to try and understand government systems, finite resourcing or learn to lobby for the funds they need most. It arrives and they – mostly men – make ‘participatory’ decisions about how to allocate it. That said, CDD has been highly influential in promoting the importance of participation to government bureaucrats who dont get it! For this we have to thank the bank and especially people like Scott who have to make the case internally. But the real question is what is happening with CDD lessons and its relatively massive investment vs the lessons of more empowered active citizenship results through the bank’s underfunded Global Partnership for Social Accountability? Are GPSA lessons being fed into CDD practice? Are GPSA practices being picked up by bank sectorial programs?

  12. Per A Eklund

    Hugely important to shed light re (WB)CDD design limitations and 3ie fixtures with its reductionist RTC sample frame.
    Two observations.1). Uncertain or non-observed impact of, by default, CDD infrastructure driven development reflects use of fuzzy imprecise indicators. Appears that CDD interventions are rarely using child malnutrition as indicator. Even though it is a relevant, easily measurable proxy for endemic poverty and for measuring impact of cross sectoral poverty reduction interventions. Am curious why chronic malnutrition with its longer term or permanent cognitive and motoric impairment through enhanced learning and skill uptake apparently still has not yet become part of mainstream gendersensitive CDD?
    2) Our two studies of women organisations, maternal knowledge to reduce prevalence of stunted children in rural Nepal and PNG support Sue Cant’s point abt neglect of facilitation. Not unexpectedly, they showed that not externally assisted (autonomous) women organisations may – building on their social capital – perform better than government – externally assisted interventions. But their women leaders are stymied by little access to training and knowledge. Question: how to provide facilitation cum training support without compromising group intrinsic trust, foundation for empowerment?

  13. Penny Davies

    Comment made by from Ford Foundation (Natural Resources and Climate Change team) at a recent IIED workshop on #MoneyWhereItMatters
    1.We work with and support well-organized grassroots community associations and social movements with capacity to scale their action. And are also keen to help build them.
    2. Often these movements are “territorial” in nature or have a long standing relationship (including rights-based relationship) with their natural resources.
    3. Where these conditions exist, we can help grassroots organisations that are successfully managing their community funds to strengthen the governance of their funds and to grow their funds.
    4. Community territorial funds that grow or scale successfully often do so from a basis of an endowment, or are initially capitalized by peoples’ own savings or assets. 5.Sometimes they capture and manage private finance, in the form of compensation from polluting companies, as in Brazil, and sometimes little donor finance.
    6.These are more sustainable than those that just rely on or are established to capture international project aid.
    7. A successful fund is one tool for a social movement to advance its purpose. As the fund grows we look to see if, in the way it is structured and in the way the fund is governed (by legitimate community representation), its funding objectives continue to align with the broader social or environmental purpose of the movement , and if it can operate at the different scales as the movement also scales.
    8. We invest in organizations that have transparent, representative and accountable governance, and that can bring those principles to their funds.
    9. Many are not for the purpose of building infrastructure. They have other types of social, economic and environmental results.
    10. We suspect they have lower transaction costs as they enable local organizations and social movements to build their own capacity, mobilIzing local organizations to access these funds for their own ideas , building better horizontal peer monitoring by the communities of the implementation of their projects, and linking them to the broader movement’s rights-oriented agenda.
    11. These funds, when they do engage with bilateral or multilateral donors or climate funds, have to work hard to “buffer” their constituencies from increasing costs imposed by the aid bureaucracy, and to ensure that time is invested in maintaining and building social cohesion, and not in invoicing the purchase of paper clips.

  14. Rand Robinson

    Such an interesting thread! I am carefully reading these remarks, and as USAID goes into another round of designing what most others call CDD programs, an approach that USAID no longer has much in-depth, institutional expertise. But i’d like to jump straight to Sue Cant’s remarks and the Quality of Facilitation and How Much it Matters..i came a great believer of that in the 90s with NGOs, or watching how FAO’s redesigned IPM program, brought in by NFE experts Russ Dilts, i think it was, and others…who entirely revamped how..strikingly more effectively… extentionists inter-acted with farmers…and so on…Sue mentioned there’s an RCT that demonstrates the value of effective facilitation. I’d Love To See/Find that please, is one request, and the other could be, might others know What Is? the State of the Union/Current Condition of developing community-based facilitators…? Where/who holds the better curriculum on this now…and might any West African dev institutions or Universities possibly serve as resource experts from whom such services could be found..?

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