Social Development focuses on the need to “put people first” in development processes. Poor people’s voices tell us that poverty is more than low income—it is also about vulnerability, exclusion and isolation, unaccountable institutions, powerlessness, and exposure to violence.  

Social Development promotes inclusion, cohesion, resilience, citizen security and accountability as the operational principles that define socially sustainable development. Empirical evidence and operational experience show that Social Development promotes better growth, better projects and better quality of life.

Incorporating social sustainability in development projects involves addressing a comprehensive range of social opportunities, risks, and impacts that will ensure their social sustainability. 

Social Development includes the poor and excluded in the development process and translates the complex relationships between societies, states and communities into operations.


Last Updated: Apr 06, 2015

Social Development puts people first. It brings voices of the poor and underprivileged into the otherwise top-down development process. It does this by making substantial evidence-based policy and program contributions through:

  • Undertaking better and more timely social and political risk analysis, including poverty and social impact analyses;
  • Mainstreaming fragility and conflict-sensitivity and responsiveness into analysis and operations;
  • Building a greater understanding of the resilience of communities and institutions to a range of natural and man-made shocks, be it economic crises, climate change, natural disasters or violent conflict;
  • Promoting gender differentiated social and economic empowerment programming for youth;
  • Strengthening internal capacity around disability inclusion and providing technical assistance for mainstreaming disability inclusion into World Bank Group operations and building the analytical evidence to support more inclusive project design and implementation.
  • Contribute to expanding the evidence base regarding the nature and costs of exclusion and discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity (SOGI);
  • Strengthening links between citizens and their government representatives, and promoting more accountable government structures; one aspect of this agenda is the work on mainstreaming citizen engagement for enhanced impact in World Bank Group operations, which includes initial pilots in the Middle East and North Africa region;
  • Empowering communities in rural and urban settings by transferring the control over development decisions and resources for poverty reduction to the communities through the Community Driven Development (CDD) approach.
  • Enhancing positive impacts, mitigating negative impacts, and managing social and political risks, including compliance with the Bank’s social safeguards policies on Indigenous Peoples and Involuntary Resettlement.
  • Mainstreaming gender concerns and ensuring that operations are gender-informed. 

The World Bank works with governments, communities, civil society and the private sector to help promote a state that is accessible, responsive and accountable to citizens.

Last Updated: Apr 06, 2015

Results in World Bank projects covering Social development include:

  • The Philippines National Community Driven Development Project expands the ongoing KALAHI-CIDSS project to cover all of the estimated 847 poorest municipalities in the country, including areas affected by Typhoon Haiyan (local name: Yolanda) that hit the country in November 2013. The KALAHI-CIDSS project, has benefited over 1.6 million households in the poorest municipalities since 2002 through more than 6,000 community-driven projects that include local infrastructure such as water systems, school buildings, health stations, roads and bridges.
  • A four-month pilot project completed in 2012,“Digital Jam 2.0,” sought to provide Jamaican youth with new opportunities in the global virtual economy and resulted in employment of 4,500 youths in various micro-work platforms and a 37% increase in new online workers from June to July 2012, along with commercial interest expressed by investors in many of the apps completed as part of Digital Jam 2.0. The success of this pilot led to the Jamaica Youth Employment in Animation and Digital Industries .
  • The Indonesia National Program for Community Empowerment, known as PNPM Mandiri, is Indonesia’s largest community-driven development program worth approximately $1.2 billion per year. PNPM, which the Bank helped establish and support over the past 15 years, now covers all 72,000 villages and cities in the country, benefiting approximately 45 million poor people.
  • The Myanmar National Community Driven Development Project, the first World Bank operation in Myanmar in decades, supports the government's shift to a "people-centered" approach to development by enabling poor rural communities to benefit from improved access to, and use of, basic infrastructure and services. Over the first year of implementation, over 235,000 villagers gained better access to roads, clean water, schools and health centers and is expanding to cover nearly 1 million people.
  • The Second Azerbaijan Rural Investment Project  is expanding the rehabilitation of critical infrastructure and livelihood activities. With new financing, the project is expected to reach over 3.5 million beneficiaries in 1,800 poor rural communities across the country. Results from the first phase of the project indicated that mobility had improved as a result of the rehabilitation of rural roads, with travel times to schools and markets reduced by 47% and 26% respectively, while primary school enrollment increased by 25% after school rehabilitation.
  • The Morocco National Initiative for Human Development (INDH) financed more than 22,000 community-driven sub-projects, providing over 5 million beneficiaries with access to basic social and economic infrastructure services, and training. Since 2012, the second phase of this project has expanded the target population, geographic scope and resource allocation.
  • Through the Third Pakistan Poverty Alleviation Fund 6.3 million people availed micro credit, with 58% of the loans given to women; over 12 million people have benefitted from water and infrastructure projects and nearly 175,000 children have been enrolled in schools (45% girls).
  • Around 566,000 job-days of employment and US$9.4 million in wage income were created through microprojects under the Armenia Social Investment Fund III and the total number of beneficiaries from completed microprojects is roughly 1.4 million, almost half the population.

In 2012, the World Bank began a process to update and consolidate the Bank’s social and environmental safeguard policies. Two global multi-stakeholder consultations have been concluded with several thousand participants from more than 65 countries. The most recent consultation phase lasted from August 1, 2014, to March 1, 2015, and is the largest consultation effort the Bank has undertaken. Participants from government, private sector, and civil society provided detailed comments on the proposed Environmental and Social Framework. The feedback received from shareholders and stakeholders is currently being analyzed as the World Bank revises the draft framework. An updated proposal will be presented to the Committee on Development Effectiveness (CODE) of the World Bank’s Board of Executive Directors in the summer of 2015. The goal of the review is to enhance protections for the poor and for the environment, ensure inclusive access to development benefits, strengthen the World Bank’s partnership with client countries, and maintain the World Bank’s leadership role as standard setter in development.

The Bank’s work on social development also includes analytical work that explores key social sustainability issues. Recent work in this area includes:

  • Addressing Inequality in South Asia shows that, while the gaps between rich and poor look moderate based on standard measures that focus on consumption per capita, the picture is more mixed when considering inequality along non-monetary dimensions of well-being, such as child mortality or stunting.
  • ‘Inclusion Matters: The Foundation for Shared Prosperity’ is one of the most comprehensive reviews of social inclusion available and uses evidence to show that inclusion can be advanced in myriad ways, that many countries have moved forward, and have begun to implement policies resulting in greater social and economic inclusion.

Given the persistent challenges of poverty and widening inequality, with the poor increasingly found in middle-income countries as well as in fragile states, the social development principles of inclusion, cohesion, resilience and accountability will continue to be integrated across the World Bank’s work.

Last Updated: Apr 06, 2015

People will benefit from Myanmar National CDD Project in its first year of operation.
Source »

More Photos »