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Community voice in community driven development: the record of the World Bank

The community’s voice in community driven development: the record of the World Bank. A response from Nikolas Myint Senior Social Development Specialist at the World Bank in Myanmar.

See original post here in English and Myanmar.

Thanks to the PK Forum for continuing this excellent debate! Am just logging back on after the holidays, and see a number of posts that I think are very interesting for a substantive discussion about how Myanmar’s community-driven development project is working, and how we can make it better.

On this particular post, I very much agree that we can learn a lot from the collective experience of other actors and approaches (both within Myanmar and globally) that are being applied and tested.

For example, governance risks such as elite capture and others mentioned in the post are indeed real challenges – not only to CDD projects but to almost all other development projects which seek to change traditional norms, modes of citizens’ participation, and ways of operating, particularly in fragile and transitional environments such as Myanmar.

At the same time, we have found that when CDD projects adapt and learn from experience, both from other countries and through an active learning approach, they do well in managing these risks and producing impacts. We have found this to be the case in a host of different countries where CDD approaches have been supported over a long-term period, and where solid evaluation work has been carried out. Important examples include:

Indonesia Kecamatan Development Program; the 2008 impact evaluation (See Voss: ‪react-text: 1627 /react-text ) found that overall the poorest households and sub-districts (kecamatans) saw the greatest improvements, with an 11% gain in per capita consumption for poor households in participating kecamatans, proportion of households moving out of poverty in poor kecamatans was 9.2% higher, and vulnerable households were 4.5% less likely to fall below poverty line in these poor kecamatans. There was also an 11.5% increase in access to outpatient health care for household heads, and unemployment was reduced by 1.5% in treatment kecamatans.

• Philippines KALAHI-CIDSS Program. The end-line impact evaluation of KALAHI-CIDSS showed a 9% increase in year-round access for participating villages (barangays), a 5% increase in the proportion of households with access to safe drinking water, a 10% increase in household participation in local government activities, and an 8% increase in intra-community trust. Regarding potential elite capture concerns, Chase and Labonne (2009) showed that overall, community and local leader preferences are equally represented in community proposals, and that social capital, rather than political or economic power, had a larger effect on project selection decisions. (‪ react-text: 1633 /react-text ).

• Afghanistan National Solidarity Program’s impact evaluation (see Beath et al: ‪react-text: 1639 /react-text ) found that this national CDD program increased access to clean drinking water by 15% in participating communities, and increased use of electricity by 26%. In terms of social norms, the project was also found to increase women’s participation in local dispute mediation and involvement in aid allocation (by 21% and 14% respectively), increase women’s mobility, increase male acceptance of female participation in political activity and local governance, and indirectly (as this was generally not financed by the project), increase access to education, health, and counseling services for girls and women.

• India, Andhra Pradesh Rural Poverty Reduction Program; the impact evaluation for this community based livelihoods program (see Prennushi and Gupta, 2014: ‪react-text: 1645 /react-text ) that relies on core aspects of the CDD model for it success, finds that women who participated in groups were able to borrow up to two-and-a-half times more than non-participants, with higher amounts for poorest women who had been in groups longer, which allowed them to accumulate some assets, invest in education, and increase total expenditures. Women who participated in the program had more freedom to go places and were less afraid to disagree with their husbands; the women participated more in village meetings and their children were slightly more likely to attend school. Consistent with the emphasis of the program on the poor, the impacts were stronger across the board for the poorest and poor participants and were more pronounced for long-term Scheduled Tribe participants.

• Senegal, National Program for Rural Infrastructure (PNIR); the impact evaluation (see Arcand and Bassole, 2006: ‪react-text: 1651 /react-text ) found that this CDD program resulted in a 22% increase in access to clean drinking water and 24% in access to basic health services, leading to significant improvements in the nutrition status of children, and particularly for those from the poorest households in treatment villages.

While these and other well-documented results from CDD programs around the world clearly indicate the potential that these programs have, it is also true that these programs don’t always achieve all expected outcomes. They can and have improved by learning from experiences, and sound evaluations, and by adapting accordingly. This ongoing learning and adaptation is one of the key features of the Myanmar CDD project, which carries out a range of social, technical and financial audits to measure performance, cross-checks these against annual discussions in the project’s multi-stakeholder reviews, and then integrates the lessons identified from these processes into the project, including through an annual update of the project’s Operations Manual. This process, which is open to all (with the multi-stakeholder reviews typically attracting between 400-800 participants at the township and union levels), has allowed the project to adapt and improve over the course of implementation. We hope many of you will join this process to make this project as effective for Myanmar’s poorest communities as it can be.

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