After participating in two rigorous impact evaluations of
Community-Driven Development/Reconstruction (CDD/R) in Liberia and DRC,
IRC and DFID embarked on this review as a next step in learning. They
also wanted this review to inform design and evaluation strategies for
new CDR programming in Somalia.
CDD/R programmes – that empower local communities to directly
participate in development activities and to control resources to do so
– aim to improve socio-economic wellbeing, governance, and social
cohesion at a local level. While CDD/R is context driven, it is
generally implemented as a standard model.
According to rigorous impact evaluations from programmes in Afghanistan,
Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), 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\", \"inherently flawed\" and even
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
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
Open and honest conversation about CDD/R – which has occurred too
infrequently – must guide the way forward.
Future CDD/R efforts also need to be guided by humility and more
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
The road ahead must build on the important work undertaken so far and
the many questions raised here, not simply replicate what has been done
in the past.
King, E. A critical review of community-driven development programmes in conflict-affected contexts. International Rescue Committee (IRC), London, UK / Balsillie School of International Affairs, Waterloo, Ontario, Canada (2013) 55 pp.
A critical review of community-driven development programmes in conflict-affected contexts.