In Africa, Community-Driven Development Tackles Fragility From the Ground Up

June 11, 2015


In Nigeria, CDD programs help women play a more active role in the local decision-making process. See slideshow to learn more about the benefits of CDD approaches in African countries.

Story Highlights
  • Over one third of Bank-supported Community-Driven Development (CDD) programs in Africa are in countries affected by fragility and conflict.
  • Involving communities helps build trust and deliver services quickly when government capacity is low.
  • The Bank is supporting practitioners to share innovations to respond to diverse challenges.

From conflict and coups to locust attacks, drought and displacement, African countries are using community-driven development (CDD) approaches to tackle fragility, finding innovative ways to empower communities and improve lives in hard-to-reach areas.

Practitioners from 14 African government programs exchanged ideas gained from running CDD projects on the ground at a recent workshop in Nairobi. The event was convened by the World Bank’s CDD Global Solutions Group, Social, Urban, Rural and Resilience Global Practice and supported by the State and Peace-Building Fund.

Why CDD in such difficult circumstances?

“We wanted local communities to be directly engaged, so they would know how to organize themselves for development,” explains Ruphin Bo-elongo Kimuemue, General Coordinator of the Social Fund for the Democratic Republic of Congo.  “That is the lasting impact of this intervention, beyond the actual school that is built.”

By tapping into local knowledge and skills, CDD can often fill a capacity gap in countries affected by fragility and conflict.  

“CDD doesn’t just produce an output. It improves the capacity of the community to think for themselves, put ideas together, and interact with governments,” explained Oyintonyo Eve Oboro, General Manager, Bayelsa State Community and Social Development Agency, Nigeria.

Bringing communities together to deliver services quickly

One of the benefits that practitioners emphasized was the ability of CDD projects to deliver services quickly under difficult circumstances by involving communities throughout the process.

Following a coup in 2009, Madagascar used CDD for an emergency rice production project in response to drought, flooding, and a locust invasion that struck at the same time. Local community leaders were trained in skills to manage the project, from pesticide use to accounting, and the community took responsibility for irrigation system maintenance by pooling their own money.

“We wanted to make sure that the knowledge and money stays with the community, to continue with the work,” said Lanto Ramaroson, Project Coordinator, Emergency Food Security and Social Protection Project.

At the conference, conflict-affected countries brought insight on building bridges between communities and governments. 

" Community-driven development doesn’t just produce an output. It improves the capacity of the community to think for themselves, put ideas together, and interact with governments. "

Oyintonyo Eve Oboro

General Manager, Bayelsa State Community and Social Development Agency, Nigeria

After civil war and prolonged insecurity, Cote d’Ivoire needed to establish services in war-torn communities where there was little government presence or trust. For communities divided by conflict, CDD gave people a way to start talking to each other.

“Building infrastructure brought communities together.By showing how to mediate internal conflicts, CDD contributes to conflict resolution,” said Yeo Pefougne, M&E Specialist, Emergency Post-Conflict Assistance Project, Cote d’Ivoire.

With 1.2 million young people unemployed, engaging youth to help rebuild their country was an important goal for Liberia. But older community members saw youth as perpetrators of violence during the conflict and tensions remained.   

“We needed to create awareness, so people understood this approach,” said Mack Capehart Mulbah, National Coordinator, Ministry of Youth and Sports, Liberia. Under the CDD project, youth employment and life skills training is being pursued and has helped to bridge the gap between the generations.

Opportunity to strengthen local institutions

For South Sudan – with one of the newest programs on the continent - CDD presents an opportunity to strengthen local institutions.

“This is the first time that the government system is being used. We see this project as the basis of the local government development process,” said Guyson Ad’Kobaa, Project Coordinator for the Local Governance and Service Delivery Project in South Sudan. “Despite the war and falling oil prices, we are building schools and supporting services, so the community is happy.”

Here, feuding communities are coming together to discuss development needs and identify priorities in a transparent manner.

“They emerge with a much better way to look at their problems. When they are able to articulate visions and goals, the selfishness starts to melt,” says Judith Omondi, Community Engagement Specialist, Local Governance and Service Delivery Project, South Sudan.

Practitioners from Nigeria were interested in hearing about how to use CDD in post-conflict situations, confronted with the need to address problems in communities experiencing displacement in the aftermath of Boko Haram.

“We did not have conflict when we started the project, people who were internally displaced are coming back to their communities with so many new problems,” said Goni Baba Gana, General Manager, Yobe State Agency for Community and Social Development, Nigeria. “We may need to call on NGOs who are experts in taking care of the mindset of those that were affected.”

“There is a whole range of contexts,” observed Omondi, the South Sudan community engagement specialist, who recently started working on CDD. “We need to take into account diversity, yet with a common theme – to make sure communities are participating in decision making, and that their priorities are incorporated.”