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Project Record

A critical review of community-driven development programmes in conflict-affected contexts.

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 Miscellaneous (Governance)
 Research and Evidence Division (Evidence into Action Team)

 Dr. Elisabeth King

  Western Africa, Middle Africa, Southern Asia, South-Eastern Asia
  Afghanistan, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Indonesia, Liberia, Sierra Leone

This research will provide a critical review of the evidence generated by rigorous evaluations of Community-driven development or reconstruction (CDD/R) programming. The review includes interviews with practitioners, policymakers and academics – and identifies lessons for the design, implementation and further evaluation of CDD/R programmes.

The impact of CDD/R on desired outcomes remains unclear. CDD/R has been subject to methodologically sound and rigorous impact evaluations in DR Congo, Afghanistan, Aceh, Sierra Leone and Liberia. The findings have been mixed and this review aims to explore what factors drive the differing results.

The review was undertaken by Dr Elisabeth King from the Balsillie School of International Affairs, in collaboration with the International Rescue Committee. The review was managed by DFID’s Research and Evidence Division and DFID Somalia.

Actual Outputs:
  • Report
  • Technical Appendix
  • Seminars held in DFID London and at the World Bank’s Center on Conflict Security Development, Nairobi.

  • According to rigorous impact evaluations from programmes in Afghanistan, Democratic Republic of Congo, Aceh (Indonesia), Liberia and Sierra Leone, and interviews with practitioners, policymakers and academics, the record of CDD/R in conflict-affected contexts is mixed and, overall, disappointing in terms of reaching the ambitious goals set out.
  • As currently designed, implemented, and evaluated, CDD/R is better at generating the more tangible economic outcomes than it is at generating social changes related to governance and social cohesion, although even the economic effects are found in just a few studies. Moreover, CDD/R programming is better at producing outcomes directly associated with the project rather than broader changes in routine life.
  • CDD/R has been plagued by a panacea-type approach to goals and a generalised theory of change that is, as interviewees characterised it, “lofty”, “unrealistic” and “inherently flawed”.
  • A variety of issues related to programme design merit rethinking: the relatively short timeline of CDD/R projects, the small size of block grants, the limited reach of the projects, the menu restrictions on CDD/R programming, the limitations of social infrastructure, the quality and intensity of social facilitation, the manner in which communities are conceptualised and thus often not meaningful to participants, and how community institutions build on existing institutions and relate to the state.
  • Although the evaluations reviewed here are of high quality, they raise a number of methodological questions about the best measures and instruments for evaluating CDD/R, the timing of measurement, and levels of analysis, as well as if and how evaluations impact projects and outcomes.
  • More questions can and should be asked in evaluations. Areas for future research on CDD/R consist of comparing CDD/R to other programming rather than a counterfactual of no programme, parsing the social and economic aspects of programme inputs and consequent outcomes, introducing variation within treatment communities to learn more about programme design and contextual features, and asking how and why questions about the CDD/R process, and the outcomes it generates. Stronger monitoring is essential.

  • £26,000