Learning from Community Driven Development (CDD) Models for Better Economic and Social Development Outcomes

Key Contact
Janmejay Singh
Start Date
End Date
Funding Amount
$ 128,004
Knowledge-receiving Countries


As in many other East Asian countries, the number of people living in poverty in Cambodia, Lao PDR, and Vietnam has declined in the past decade. However, persisting poverty in less advantaged geographic areas and ethnic groups is still a challenge. The governments of the three countries were eager to gain practical lessons on innovative Community Driven Development (CDD) models that have been successful in several South Asian countries, such as Bangladesh, India, and Sri Lanka. The main objective of the resulting World Bank-facilitated exchange was to emulate these models in national strategic development plans and poverty reduction programs in Cambodia, Lao PDR, and Vietnam.

During the study tour to India, the participants witnessed the results firsthand. “There is empowerment and equity at all levels,” said Bounkouang Souvannaphanh, Deputy Executive Director of the Lao Poverty Reduction Fund. Nguyen Thi Minh Nghia, Deputy Director of the Central Project Office in Ministry of Planning and Investment and Head of the Vietnam delegation, added that she was “impressed by the bottom-up institutions, gender equality, and ownership created among the local people.”

The South Asian model of CDD and livelihoods introduced the East Asia teams to new ways to socially mobilize the rural poor and connect people to commercial banks and microfinance institutions. It also demonstrated new technologies for promoting productivity and enhancing social accountability. The exchange motivated the delegations to incorporate some of the specific lessons learned into their own ongoing CDD projects. The East Asian delegations understood that these types of knowledge and experience exchanges are very effective for nurturing understanding around common development challenges, strengthening policy and project design, and improving implementation skills.

“This is one of the best examples of support that the Bank can provide to developing countries,” said Meck Phanlak, Vice Minister of the National Leading Committee on Rural Development and Poverty Eradication from Lao PDR. Knowledge exchanges have “lots of potential in expanding a network and connecting people working on similar initiatives across the globe.”

Beneficiaries / Participants

The Royal Government of Cambodia, the Government of Lao PDR, and the Government of Vietnam all want to strengthen their rural poverty reduction and livelihood opportunity development programs, especially for women and other disadvantaged groups. Even though each country’s economic growth is relatively strong, remaining poverty in some disadvantaged areas is still a challenge. Therefore, Cambodia, Lao PDR, and Vietnam requested World Bank support to organize a South-South exchange with South Asian countries that have growing and successful experience in Community Driven Development (CDD) programs that help build institutions for the poor.

In South Asia, CDD and livelihoods models support the social and economic empowerment of the rural poor: they have reached 12 million households and 90,000 villages and have created more than a million community organizations. By investing significantly in institutional platforms for the most vulnerable—rural women and disadvantaged groups—the CDD projects have improved access to social services and economic opportunities for poor households, communities, and regions. They have successfully mobilized more than US$2 billion from commercial financial sources and have expanded incomes almost threefold for many poor households. Cambodia, Lao PDR, and Vietnam wanted to learn from these innovative South Asian models to improve their own national strategic development plans and poverty reduction programs.

Moving forward

In the course of exchange, each beneficiary team developed an action plan and presented progress in a follow-up videoconference held in December 2011.  The Vietnam team prepared an action plan for the Northern Mountains Poverty Reduction Project with four components: livelihood-related issues, capacity building, communication and management, and long-term strategy. Each category has 3 to 5 specific actions, including expected outcomes. The Lao PDR team identified three main action steps: sharing lessons, preparing a pilot project, and starting implementation of the Livelihood Opportunity and Nutrition Gains (LONG) project. The Cambodia team shared their progress in an ongoing pilot project, the Livelihood Enhancement and Association of the Poor (LEAP) in Siem Reap.