Scaling up community-driven development

a synthesis of experience

While many community-driven development (CDD) initiatives may be successful, their impact is often limited by their small scale. Building on past and ongoing work on CDD, this study addresses the fundamental question: how can CDD initiatives motivate and empower the greatest number of communities to take control of their own development? What are the key contextual factors, institutional arrangements, capacity elements, and processes related to successful scaling-up of CDD, and, conversely, what are the main constraints or limiting factors, in different contexts?
Drawing upon recent literature and the findings from five case studies, key lessons on how best to stimulate, facilitate, and support the scaling-up of CDD in different situations, along with some major challenges, are highlighted.
Lessons include the need for donors and supporters of CDD, including governments, to think of the process beyond the project, and of transformation or transition rather than exit. Donor push and community pull factors need to be balanced to prevent “supply-driven, demand-driven development.” Overall, capacity is pivotal to successful CDD and its successful scaling-up over time. Capacity is more than simply resources, however; it also includes motivation and commitment, which, in turn, require appropriate incentives at all levels. Capacity development takes time and resources, but it is an essential upfront and ongoing investment, with the capacity and commitment of facilitators and local leaders being particularly important. A “learning by doing” culture — one that values adaptation, flexibility, and openness to change — needs to be fostered at all levels, with time horizons adjusted accordingly. The building of a library of well-documented, context-specific experiences through good monitoring, evaluation, and operational research will be useful in advocating for improvements in the contextual environment.
Ultimately, for CDD to be sustained, it should be anchored within existing contextual systems (government), frameworks (e.g., PRSP), and processes (decentralization), even where these are imperfect.” — Author’s Abstract

Gillespie, Stuart
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