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Overcoming rural poverty

Nov 24, 2009

IFAD’s publication Community-driven development decision tools for rural development programmes highlights the role played by community-based organisations in the economic and social development processes. It will prove useful to government officials, development practitioners and field technical staff who are financing, designing or implementing community projects for rural poverty reduction.

Community-driven development decision tools for rural development programmes

Publisher: International Fund for Agricultural Development, 2009

The objective of the community-driven development (CDD) tools document was to improve the effectiveness of the approaches and operational methods used to design and implement CDD investment programmes as a way to further enable rural poor people to overcome poverty. It is the final outcome of five years of studies, debates and workshop discussions.


Robust community-based organisations (CBOs) are important for growth at the community level. CDD is concerned with the enabling instruments and mechanisms that encourage CBOs to emerge, operate, grow and establish effective and sustainable linkages with the public administration, civil society and commercial sector. CBOs’ effectiveness depends on their leaders’ initiative and capacity to establish linkages and networks well beyond the frontier of the community.

Its objective is to develop strong CBOs rather than use them merely to facilitate access to services for rural people and reduce the cost to government of providing services.

The document throws lights on various aspects, the most crucial being assessing community needs and assets. How needs assessment process has traditionally been used to identify communities eligible for assistance?

It helps to formally identify the gaps between the basic services that should be available to members of a community according to government policy and those that are actually accessible to them.

The report points out that the needs assessment process has evolved over time. Communities have been asked to identify and prioritise those gaps and to suggest needs that might be overlooked by government policy. In the more participatory and comprehensive methods, community assets are assessed and seen as building blocks in the socio-economic development of the communities.

The document presents some yardsticks to assess project staff’s performance in achieving CDD objectives:

  • Effectiveness in promoting the establishment and sustainability of CBOs;
  • Progress achieved in improving the capabilities of the CBOs;
  • Progress in establishing an enabling environment for the CBOs (i.e. work towards improved institutions of the central and local government);
  • Effectiveness in advocating the role of the CBOs in the local governance setting;
  • Assessment of the quality of the CBOs (i.e. how their institutions work);
  • Arrangements made to make service providers accountable to the CBOs;
  • Innovative procedures tested and introduced to handle CBO microprojects;
  • Measures taken to estimate the impact of project expenditures on the economy at the community level, including mobilising community-level contractors and suppliers, and achieving effective sustainability of CBO subprojects.
Source : IFAD
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