Japan Social Development Fund

The Japan Social Development Fund (JSDF) is a Partnership between the Government of Japan (GoJ) and the World Bank conceived in the wake of the Asian financial crisis in the late 1990s. It was established in June 2000 as a grant mechanism to provide targeted assistance to groups made vulnerable by the financial crisis in low- and lower-middle-income countries around the world.

The objectives of the JSDF program is to provide grants in support of community-driven development and poverty reduction projects that empower the poorest and most vulnerable groups not reached by other programs and improve their lives through direct benefits. Grants are made to eligible recipient countries, based on income level classification. Unlike most Bank-financed projects that are executed by the government at the central level, JSDF grants are executed by NGOs/CSOs and local governments and implemented at the community level. These features make the JSDF program unique, attractive, responsive, and provides a platform for cooperation between NGOs and other local stakeholders in the development process. This had led to meaningful progress in areas not previously associated with the Bank’s work with the public sector.

Since its inception until June 2021, the Government of Japan has contributed about US$855 million to the program, with a portfolio size of 786 projects. The fund has become the leading source of support for innovation, multi-sector social poverty alleviation program, responding directly to the needs of the poorest and most vulnerable.

As a model for social development and livelihood improvement, effectively contributing to the World Bank's mission of ending extreme poverty and boosting prosperity on a livable planet, the JSDF supported projects have been scaled up with funding from the World Bank, Recipient Countries, and other Development Partners.

JSDF  spans themes ranging from Livelihood Support; Improved Nutrition and Early Childhood Development; Inclusive Education; through Environmentally Sustainable Agricultural Practices, Adaptation to Climate Change and Community-Level Disaster Risk Management; to Legal Services and Local Governance; and Basic Health and Sanitation Services.

More than 50% of JSDF grants have been implemented by Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) and about 93 low and lower-middle income member countries of the World Bank have benefited from this Program.


Last Updated: Feb 02, 2024

Poverty is multi-dimensional, and complexities such as improved access to basic social and economic services by the poorest, marginalized and most vulnerable, including impoverished women, female-headed households, and persons with disabilities underscore the reasons for JSDF’s comprehensive approach to poverty reduction. JSDF’s strategic framework is designed to address issues of deprivation in addition to identifying ways to improve access to affordable food, health, education, housing, safe drinking water, and sanitation for these vulnerable groups.

Within the above framework, delivering integrated solutions to help JSDF beneficiaries address their development challenges requires a focus on results. Over the past couple of years, JSDF has instituted mechanisms at the program level to support the delivery of development results on the ground. JSDF-supported projects have yielded significant results across many areas, as shown below in selected examples from around the globe.


Last Updated: Feb 02, 2024

Achieving Development Results (FY21-22)
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    2.12 million [70% female] Direct Beneficiaries Reached

  • Livelihood Support

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    81,984 Jobs Created; Provision of Employment Opportunities

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    59% increase in Beneficiary Incomes after Training in Livelihood Generation Skills

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    716,000 Beneficiaries [71% female] provided with Sustained Livelihood Improvement Opportunities

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    683,000 Beneficiaries [81% female]  provided access to improved Nutrition and ECD Services

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    660,198 Beneficiaries [70% female]  provided access to Sustainable Agric and Adaptation to Climate Change Activities

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    202,114 beneficiaries [100% female] provided access to Business Opportunities and Direct Market Access Linkages

  • Nutrition and Early Childhood Development

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    119,000 Trained in Community-Based Nutrition Services

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    505,122 beneficiaries (children <5, lactating mothers, pregnant women and female beneficiaries of food insecure households) benefitted from improved nutrition, supplements, and nutrition related education and training

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    490,222 children < 2 years provided with Growth Monthly Monitoring and Feeding Practices

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    278% of Malnourished Children Gained Weight

  • Environmentally Sustainable Agriculture & Adaptation to Climate Change

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    128% Reduction in Operating Costs for Farmers Applying Irrigation Mechanisms

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    577 Hectares of Land Cultivated under Improved Irrigation Techniques/Area Covered with Certified Seeds

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    182% Increase in Small Farmer/Herder Productive Capacity

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    30,122 Farmers Adopting Climate Resilience Farming Technology


There are three broad categories of funding available under the JSDF Program:

  • Regular Program Grants finance either project or capacity building activities, up to US$3 million, aimed at introducing innovative solutions that provide direct benefits to disadvantaged communities.
  • Special Program Grants provide financing for JSDF project investment and capacity building grants supporting the reconstruction of Afghanistan and transition to socio-economic stability.
  • Seed-Fund Grants up to US$75,000 to assist during the JSDF project preparation phase with the consultation process with the targeted beneficiaries at the local community level, and with other key stakeholders such as civil society organizations and local governments, including M&E readiness assessment to ensure maximum ownership, results, and sustainability of the project at completion.

The JSDF finances project grants and capacity building grants:

  • Project Grants finance activities that provide direct benefits to disadvantaged communities by targeting underserved groups not reached by mainstream programs, through innovative projects that deliver results in the short term.
  • Capacity Building Grants finance capacity building to empower and strengthen local community authorities, NGOs, local governments and stakeholders through engagement of target groups to participate in their development by learning and doing. These grants may specifically support local governments working in partnership with local communities.

All Low-Income and Middle-Income Countries , as outlined in the yearly World Development Reports (WDR), eligible for World Bank assistance, can be a Recipient of JSDF grants.



The objective of the JSDF is to provide grants in support of community-driven development and poverty reduction projects that empower the poorest and most vulnerable groups not reached by other programs and improve their lives through direct benefits. 

Recipient-Executed Grants are made to eligible countries, based on income level classification.  As stated earlier, all low and lower middle income countries are Eligible (should be a link to the list of eligible countries) to receive a JSDF grant. All development sectors are also eligible for funding.

The JSDF Secretariat issues calls for Ideas Briefs (IB) twice a year. The main purpose of this exercise is to help applicants develop robust ideas for funding under the JSDF before extensive resources are dedicated on detailed proposals.

Unlike most Bank-financed projects that are executed by the government at the central level, JSDF grants are executed by NGOs/CSOs and local governments, implemented at the community level. However, JSDF applications including concept notes are not accepted from outside parties. They require the sponsorship and endorsement by the relevant Global Practice (GP) or Global Theme Department (GT) in the World Bank. Therefore, it is important for NGO/CSO and Community-Based Organization (CBO) applicants to establish contact with the Country Program Coordinator (CPC) or Program Leader (PL) of the relevant GP or GT to see the extent to which their project ideas can be supported and submitted to JSDF on their behalf.  To ensure harmonization and coordination, Bank task teams are required to consult with the Embassy of Japan & JICA accredited to the recipient country. TTLs are also required to secure endorsement by the Bank Country Director and Global Practice managers.

The JSDF Secretariat will review and clear the submitted idea briefs. Once an IB has been cleared, World Bank Task Team, together with the Applicant, will proceed in preparing the Project Initiation Note (PIN) in accordance with the Bank’s Small Grants Guidelines and Procedures. The draft PIN will then be submitted to Japan by the JSDF Secretariat for review and clearance. Once the PIN has been cleared by Japan, the Bank Task Team in consultation with the Applicant will move to the appraisal phase with the preparation of the Project Paper (PP). The approval of the PP by Japan will signal the beginning of project implementation through the signing of the Grant Agreement.

Further information can be provided by contacting the JSDF Secretariat.



JSDF project proposals should respond to the following criteria:

  • The grant objective should be consistent with the country assistance strategy (CAS), Sustainable Development Strategy (SDG) or the Country Partnership Framework (CPF).
  • Target and Respond to the Needy, providing direct benefits to the poor, vulnerable, and disadvantaged groups with rapid results for improved livelihood.
  • Support Community-Driven Development by Empowering the Poor at the local community level, to participate in society and government and to affect their development and learning by doing.
  • Engage NGOs/CSOs or Local Cooperatives/Community Associations, or Local Governments as Implementing Agencies which are close to the beneficiaries and where they have a say in their development.
  • Build Capacity through special capacity building grants to strengthen communities and their associations to participate in decisions that affect their lives, as well as strengthening the capacity of their local governments and local NGOs/CSOs to provide services.
  • Pilot Alternative Innovative Approaches or Partnerships engaging NGOs/CSOs, community associations, or local governments as implementing agencies to reach the target groups not reached by other programs.
  • Reflect a Participatory Design and consultation process with the targeted beneficiaries who endorse the grant activities.
  • Utilize Participatory Monitoring and Evaluation to help beneficiaries address their vulnerability and to ensure ownership and sustainability.
  • Encourage Sustainability through Scale-Up of pilot at completion through Bank-financed operations, recipient government activities, or other entities.
  • The minimum grant size is US$200,000 and the maximum is US$3 million for regular program grants. 


Last Updated: Jan 24, 2018

JSDF grants are expected to be demand-driven and prepared in a participatory, rather than a top-down, manner. They may be proposed by local governments, NGOs, or civil society groups, but must be prepared and submitted by a Bank staff member.

Last Updated: Jan 25, 2018

Frequently Asked Questions
  • What types of activities are eligible for funding under JSDF Regular Window?

    Two types of grants can be supported under the JSDF Regular Window: (1) "Project Grants" finance investment activities that address demand-driven poverty reduction needs and support innovative approaches; and (2) "Capacity Building Grants" are for activities that strengthen service delivery at the grass roots level through learning by doing or expanding the capabilities or coverage of social fund-type institutions. They may also support measures nurturing positive interactions among local government, communities, interest groups, and non-governmental organizations in ways geared to generate substantive incremental benefits.
  • Which countries are eligible for funding under JSDF Regular Window?

    Only low-income and lower middle-income countries, as defined in the most recent World Development Indicators published annually in April, are eligible for both project and capacity-building grants. Check current country status.
  • Are any upper middle-income countries eligible for funding under JSDF Regular Window?

    An upper middle-income country can be eligible for a JSDF Regular Program grant only if there was a Seed Fund grant leading to the proposal and the Seed Fund grant was approved while the country was still a lower-middle income country.
  • What would be the average size of a JSDF Regular Window grant? How should the cost be estimated?

    The size of a JSDF grant can range from US$200,000 to a maximum of US$3 million (This amount includes the supervision portion of the grant) for the JSDF regular program. International market rates should be used to cost the activities.
  • Who can manage a JSDF Project?

    Within the World Bank Institutional framework, only level GF World Bank Staff member can manage a JSDF Project. Young Professionals may only manage JSDF grants after they graduate from YP status.
  • What regulates the implementation of JSDF Regular Window grants?

    JSDF grants follow World Bank Small Grants Operational Policies and Guidelines and the Investment Project Financing (IPF) Processes and Procedures including Procurement, Financial Management, and Safeguards.
  • Are NGOs eligible to receive funds from the JSDF Regular Window?

    Yes. An NGO may be a direct grant recipient or may act as the implementing agency for another recipient. The NGO’s financial management capacity must meet Bank criteria. A Bank Financial Management Specialist will review NGO credentials and the financial management system established for the grant. As a recipient, the NGO must work with a Bank staff member who will see the proposal through the application process and act as Task Team Leader (TTL) once the grant is approved. The TTL will ensure that the proposed grant activities are in line with the country’s development objectives. Proposals must be submitted by the Bank TTL to DFi in accordance with the Regional procedures for Small Recipient-executed Grants and JSDF Guidelines. The recipient country government must send a letter endorsing the NGO as either the recipient or implementing agency of the grant. 
  • How is a NGO selected?

    The selection of an NGO is the responsibility of the recipient country, through a competitive selection process when possible. The Bank TTL ensures the transparency and fairness of the selection process, consulting the team’s designated procurement specialist who would clear the selection to ensure compliance with the World Bank Procurement Policies and Procedures.
  • Can a NGO directly submit a JSDF proposal?

    No. An NGO that has an innovative project idea may prepare an Idea Brief and contact the respective sector specialist based in the World Bank country office to get the name of the TTL assigned to the sector of interest. They can send the Idea Brief to that TTL to explore whether they would be willing to champion the project if it fits within the country/sector strategy agreed between the country and the World Bank.
  • Is funding available to assist in the participatory aspects of project preparation?

    Yes.  A Seed Fund  has been established to finance grants of up to US$75,000 (US25,000 of this amount is for M&E) is to facilitate the process of consultation with the targeted beneficiaries and NGOs/CSOs during the grant preparation process to ensure ownership through a participatory design and implementation. This will result in a demand-driven proposal and activities that will provide direct benefits to the targeted poor and vulnerable. 
  • Are there restrictions as to what the JSDF Regular Window will finance?

    Yes. JSDF will not finance purchase of motor vehicles, land acquisition, academic research, government or any other staff salaries, and foreign training or study tours.
  • Can a JSDF Regular Window grant finance regional programs?

    No. The JSDF program finances only country specific activities that target local communities or local governments. The in-country recipients must sign a Grant Agreement, much like a Loan/Credit Agreement.specific, and targets local communities or local governments. The in-country recipients must sign a Grant Agreement, much like a Loan/Credit Agreement.
  • Who reviews JSDF Regular Window Concept Notes?

    The Concept Note (CN) package is processed in accordance with the Institutional World Bank procedures for Small Recipient-executed Trust Fund Grants. The package is reviewed by a Technical Thematic Reviewer (TTR), a Social Development Expert (SDE), and the JSDF Secretariat. Prior to this review, a concept review meeting will take place chaired by the Country Director (CD) in accordance with Institutional l procedures. The CN cleared by the respective Practice Manager (PM) at the Global Practice Unit and the CD is submitted to the Government of Japan (GoJ) for review and clearance.
  • Who reviews and approves JSDF Regular Window Proposals?

    The Proposal package is processed in accordance with the regional procedures for Small Recipient-executed Grants.  The PM clears the proposal package and the CD approves it for submission to the Donor. Once a proposal is submitted to DFi, it is reviewed by the JSDF Secretariat, which sends comments to the task team. The final package is sent to the Government of Japan for review and approval.
  • Can agencies other than the central Government be recipient of the JSDF Regular Window grant funds?

    Yes. The grant recipient may be a central or local government entity, an NGO or a civil society organization.
  • Can UN Agencies or other multilateral agencies be recipients or implementing agencies of a JSDF Regular Window Program?

    No.  They may not be recipients or implementing agencies. However, UN Agencies may be hired, as subcontractors, in accordance with World Bank procurement guidelines to carry out grant activities. However, exceptions may be granted for UN agencies to be implementing agencies if it can be shown that no NGO can safely operate in the country.
  • Are there any activities that are not eligible for funding under the JSDF Regular Window Program?

    The JSDF will not finance the Scaling up of already piloted activities; TA  and ASA Policy work; Research; Desk Audits; Diagnostics; Surveys; Studies; Activities which are being funded or can be funded under Bank Group Loans/Credits or other sources; Project Preparation; Academic Research; Land Acquisition/Land Rights; Purchase of Motor Vehicles; Salaries (Government or public entities. Local NGO staff salaries funded up to 5% of RE Grant amount); Foreign Training or Study Tours; UN Agencies may not be direct recipients of JSDF grants; and other.
  • What is the allowable NGO/administration cost for a JSDF Regular Window Grant?

    The ceiling for administrative costs, including project management and NGO staff salaries is 15% of the recipient grant divided in the following manner: 10% are for the normal Operating Costs associated with the Administration of the project and 5% for the NGO staff salaries involved in the implementation of the project. In addition, it is expected that at least 65% of the funds would be utilized for expenditures providing direct inputs for the beneficiaries, e.g., subprojects, employment, micro-business, and training for beneficiary participants.
  • What procurement procedures should be followed?

    Since JSDF grants are recipient-executed, the current Guidelines: Selection and Employment of Consultants by World Bank Borrowers, (the Consultant Guidelines), and Procurement under IBRD Loans and IDA Credits (the Procurement Guidelines) apply. For Seed Fund grants and the Bank-executed portion of JSDF grants, please refer to AMS 15.00 as well as to the Consultant and Procurement Guidelines.
  • JSDF Seed Fund

  • What is the purpose of the JSDF Seed Fund?

    The Government of Japan has made available seed grants for Bank Group task teams to support the participatory discussions with beneficiaries, civil society groups and other stakeholders to design the proposal for maximum effectiveness and sustainability.
  • Who should benefit from it?

    All low and lower middle-income countries  under the JSDF program are eligible for Seed Fund grants. Seed Fund grants are awarded to Task Team Leaders, and are Bank-executed.
  • What are the eligible expenditures?

    Eligible expenditures include Consultant services for the participatory process; workshops including local community experts and facilitators; and 50% of Bank staff travel and subsistence. Bank staff and ETC salaries and time are ineligible under the Seed Fund. Technical experts would qualify only to support the participatory consultation process. A maximum of 30% of the grant funds may be for International Consultants, including their travel and subsistence.
  • What is the maximum size of the Seed Fund grant?

    The maximum size of a seed grant is US$75,000 which includes US$25,000 for monitoring and evaluation
  • Can a recipient country receive a Seed Fund?

    No. Seed Funds can be only Bank-executed.
  • What is the expected delivery time?

    The grant implementation period is a maximum of 12 months from the date of approval by the Bank (DFPTR). The output is expected to be a well-developed JSDF project.
  • Are there any reporting requirements?

    Yes.  An interim progress report is required within six months of grant approval. 

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