Community-Driven? Concepts, Clarity and Choices for CDD in Conflict-Affected Contexts


The mixed evidence on the effectiveness of Community-Driven Development (CDD) in conflict-affected settings poses a challenge to donors, policymakers and practitioners who need to make justifiable decisions about future investments in the use of the approach or the selection of alternative interventions. What explains the mixed results and why do we fail to observe consistent evidence of all the desired changes? A recent synthetic review of the impact evaluations of CDD in conflict-affected contexts proposes a number of possible factors including: programme design, timing or duration, input strength, context, theories of change, evaluation design or measurement or overly ambitious goals. This means we must get better at how we design, implement and measure CDD interventions.

This paper focuses on the lack of explicit theories of change because we believe that it has significant implications for all the other factors and overall effectiveness. Greater infusion of social theory and more explicit articulation of theories of change will help donors, policymakers, practitioners and evaluators in their decisions about the appropriateness of CDD for addressing a given problem, design options and contextualization, measurement strategies and suitable alternatives to which a given CDD intervention can be compared. This paper discusses the process of developing more theoretically grounded CDD interventions and provides two examples of theories of change that each focus on a single outcome.

This paper comprises the following sections:

  • What is CDD?
  • Starting at the End (clarifying objectives and outcomes)
  • Focusing on the Fundamentals: What lies at the core of CDD?
  • Developing Theories of Change
  • Implications for Policy, Practice and Learning
  • Conclusions

The following annexes are available as separate documents:
Annex A I: Research Protocol for Literature Review on Evaluation Studies.
Annex A II: Summary of Evaluation Studies identified through the literature review.
Annex B: Organisations that Participated in meetings for the research study.
Annex C: King's Summary of Evidence from Impact Evaluation in Conflict-Affected Contexts


Bennett, S.; D’Onofrio, A. Community-Driven? Concepts, Clarity and Choices for CDD in Conflict-Affected Contexts. International Rescue Committee, New York, USA (2015) 41 pp.

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