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.