Strengthening the Regional Community-Driven Development Network in Africa in Fragility, Conflict and Violence Contexts
Building upon a knowledge exchange that took place from 2017 to 2018, this knowledge exchange – with an extended scope and regional participation – had as objective to (a) deepen learning and the ties forged between Guinea and Cameroon CDD project teams, while extending the knowledge network to Burundi and across linguistic boundaries to Nigeria ; (b) enhance the understanding of participating countries on effective and sustainable participatory development models and processes which can be incorporated in their on-going project operations and policy action; (c) strengthen the regional CDD network of practitioners and policy makers in Africa by creating a knowledge platform to promote dialogue; and (d) contribute to knowledge building on CDD in situations of FCV (i) from an African perspective; and (ii) with a social development lens towards promoting conflict prevention, citizen engagement and social inclusion.
To do this, five videoconferences (VCs) were organized. The VCs covered diverse topics on social sustainability and inclusion, ranging from project operational strategies to in-depth technical discussions on (a) CDD; (b) social inclusion; and (c) the use of technology to provide solutions in FCV contexts. These topics were selected based on participants' demand/ preferences. The exchanges during the VC enabled participants, experts and governments to gather feedback and exchange solutions for the implementation of citizen engagement mechanisms, tools and devices for better social inclusion, as well as to explore alternatives for the institutionalization of good practices. A CDD Africa Regional Conference in collaboration with the CDD Global Solutions Group which was planned to take place in March 2020 in Conakry, Guinea, had to be cancelled due to the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. However, to sustain the regional CDD network in Africa beyond this SSF Knowledge Exchange, the organizing team continues to organize VC-based learning exchanges amongst teams to strengthen governments’ local development models and improve the implementation of their on-going projects including potential restructuring and additional financing.
In tackling the challenges of poverty, weak institutional capacity, and fragility, the Governments of Cameroon, Guinea and Senegal – with the support of the World Bank – had organized a first knowledge exchange (video conferences and study tours) back in July 2017 to March 2018 to exchange ideas and learnings on their shared strategy of decentralization and strengthening the social contract between state and citizens to tackle these common challenges. This peer-led learning platform among these francophone African states was highly enriching and beneficial, with the establishment of informal networks as well as participants drawing insights and practical lessons (e.g. on citizen engagement tools) from the experiences of other countries that could be adapted to their respective contexts. The results story of this first knowledge exchange can be found here.
Further to this first knowledge exchange, the participating countries decided that they would like to take the exchange one step further and deepen their knowledge one some additional specific topics of CDD, and in particular with regards to how to implement CDD projects in FCV settings.
In order to reinforce this informal knowledge network and extend the scope of the CDD learning exchange; and also the participation to other African countries, including non-francophone countries, facing similar challenges, a request was made for further SSF support to strengthen the regional CDD network in Africa in FCV contexts. The new SSF grant was executed from February 2019 to December 2020. Building on the earlier exchange in 2017-2018, this knowledge exchange sought to : (1) deepen the learning and linkages between the CDD project teams in Guinea and Cameroon; while extending the knowledge network to Burundi and across linguistic boundaries to Nigeria; (2) improve the understanding of the participating countries on effective and sustainable participatory development models and processes that can be incorporated into ongoing project operations and policy action; (3) strengthen the regional CDD network by creating a knowledge platform to promote dialogue on CDD; and (4) contribute to knowledge building on CDD in situations of FCV (a) from an African perspective; and (b) with a social development perspective towards building social responsibility and trust; social inclusion; and building cohesive and resilient communities for stability, peace and security. The two main activities planned under this knowledge exchange were (i) a series of video conferences for key thematic discussions; and (ii) a CDD Africa Regional Conference in collaboration with the CDD Global Solutions Group. They are described in more detail below.
A series of video conferences for key thematic discussions
As part of the knowledge exchange, five VCs were organized. The first VC organized in April 2019 brought together three project teams (Guinea, Cameroon and Nigeria) to reflect on the lessons learned from the exchange of FY18 between Guinea and Cameroon and to ask the teams to share an overview of their CDD project experience and challenges. This first virtual conference also provided an opportunity to discuss the format and future activities planned for the exchange. The second VC was held in June 2019 (co-organized with the CDD Global Solutions Group) and focused on "Service delivery and reconstruction of the social contract in the institutionalization of CDD in Guinea and Cameroon". The national coordinators of CDD programs in Guinea and Cameroon shared their experiences in improving service delivery for rural communities in FCV contexts. The third VC took place in August 2019 and focused on "Social Inclusion" with the project team in Burundi. Teams from Guinea, Cameroon and Nigeria presented how they have mainstreamed and advanced social inclusion in their projects (including capacity building and monitoring their progress on social inclusion). Varalakshmi Vemuru, World Bank Practice Manager SCASO (then Lead Social Development Specialist) spoke about the importance of CDD in supporting and promoting social inclusion. The fourth VC was held in October 2019 and focused on "Disruptive Technologies in CDD". Elaine Chee (World Bank Social Development Specialist) presented some technology products that address social development challenges and Ashutosh Raina (World Bank Social Development Specialist), along with representatives from Amplio - shared on piloting a technology product – the Amplio audio book –in Uganda. The fifth VC held in early December 2019 focused on "Monitoring and Evaluation". Participating teams shared their experiences and challenges in monitoring and evaluation, particularly in FCV contexts. Drawing on the experiences of the Kenya Development Support Program, Philip Jespersen (World Bank Senior Social Development Specialist) shared his knowledge and experiences on data collection for CDD operations and the use of the M&E system for field results and continuous performance improvement.
In general, the VCs covered diverse topics on social sustainability and inclusion, ranging from project operational strategies to in-depth technical discussions on (a) CDD; (b) social inclusion; and (c) the use of technology to provide solutions in FCV contexts. These topics were selected based on participants' demand/ preferences. The VC-based exchanges enabled participants, experts and governments to gather feedback and exchange solutions for the implementation of citizen engagement mechanisms, tools and devices for better social inclusion, as well as to explore alternatives for the institutionalization of good practices.
CDD Africa Regional Conference in collaboration with the CDD Global Solutions Group
The organizing committee of the planned regional conference has been working together with the World Bank office in Guinea to prepare the organization of this regional conference on participatory development in Conakry. Considerable progress has been made in the organization and everything was ready logistically and administratively to welcome the participants in March 2020. However, with the unexpected advent of the Covid-19 pandemic, which has affected countries worldwide, including Guinea, the World Bank and the Government of Guinea decided to postpone the conference to a later date. Nonetheless, due to the prolonged nature of the still ongoing Covid-19 pandemic and the uncertainties of when it would end and if such an in-person conference could talk place in the medium-term, the team decided at the end of 2020 to cancel the conference as an activity under this project.
 The conference was organized around the experience of Guinea in piloting a community-based early warning system to respond to local conflicts and the experience of Cameroon in supporting refugees and host communities to strengthen participatory development processes for the establishment of social and economic infrastructure.
 Several participants from other countries also gave their views and shared their experiences on the use of innovative technologies in their projects.
The governments learned a wide range of lessons from the knowledge exchange. These include, amongst others:
- For sustainability, women need to establish informed and direct relationship with a range of external players beyond the project including financial institutions, business and market organizations and service and technology providers.
- Technology can be leveraged to enhance the effectiveness of CDD projects in engaging communities and giving them greater voice in local development, so as to better translate benefits to improve the lives of the poorest and most marginalized.
- Citizen engagement to help with understanding effects of a project on different groups must be undertaken reiteratively and with a deep understanding of inclusion issues.
- The Theory of Change helps teams to develop a common understanding about the Program’s design and build consensus among teams and stakeholders and keep the focus on binding constraints to achieve expected outcomes and add clarity about what needs to happen to bring change. A simple and concrete Theory of Change is especially important in complex FCV contexts.
- To effectively increase social inclusion and gender equality we need a more strategic direction and focused effort. This will include regular monitoring, timely intervention/redress to areas of conflict.
- Promoting endogenous solutions enhances empowerment and ownership of the participatory process by grassroots communities and is a powerful impetus for the local development.
- Placing the communes in competition (such as through a “performance window”) improves local project management capacities and citizen engagement; and can also be an important tool for improving social inclusion indicators.
Beneficiaries / Participants
The VC participants comprised: (a) the World Bank tasks team, (b) government officials from Cameroon, Guinea, Nigeria and Burundi who were in charge of CDD projects in their country as well as the project coordinators and key technical team members, and (c) team leaders from Amplio. A detailed list of participants from Burundi, Cameroon, Guinea and Nigeria is provided below:
National Monitoring and Evaluation Manager / Guinea Third Village Community Support Project (PACV3)
Technical Operations Manager / PACV3
Team member / PACV3
National Coordinator / Cameroon Community Development Program Support Project Phase III (PNDP III)
Monitoring and Evaluation / PNDP III
Team members (6) / PNDP III
National Project Coordinator / Nigeria For Women Project
Advisor to the Cabinet of the Ministry of Public Health / Burundi North-East Region Refugee and Host Community Support Project
Advisor to the General Directorate of Agriculture / Burundi North-East Region Refugee and Host Community Support Project
ONPRA Coordinator and Chairman of the Inter-ministerial Committee / Burundi North-East Region Refugee and Host Community Support Project
World Bank Contribution
A World Bank task team facilitated the knowledge exchange which was funded through a South-South Facility grant. The team invited technical experts – from both inside and outside the Bank (e.g. Amplio) – to speak on key topics of relevance e.g. on social inclusion, M&E and technology. Each VC discussion benefitted from a simultaneous French-English interpretation service. The Bank team was led by Nicolas Perrin (Lead Social Development Specialist) and Kaori Oshima (Senior Social Development Specialist) and comprised of Benjamin Burckhart (Senior Social Development Specialist), Johanna Damboeck (Social Development Specialist), Elaine Chee En Hui (Social Development Specialist) and Habmo Birwe (Consultant) with support from the country offices of participating countries. Varalakshmi Vemuru (Practice Manager) and Ashutosh Raina (Social Development Specialist) were resource people in addition to the facilitating team mentioned above.
- The governments and the World bank team will continue to build on this knowledge network to communicate and exchange knowledge on participatory decentralization practices, citizen engagement and social inclusion. Though the planned CDD Africa Regional Conference in Guinea had to be cancelled due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the team hopes that it could take place in the future and as part of another project.
- The governments will review their citizen engagement, social inclusion and institutionalization models of bottom-up local development and improve the implementation of their on-going projects including potential restructuring and additional financing.
- To sustain the regional CDD network in Africa beyond this knowledge exchange, the organizing team will continue to organize VC-based learning exchanges amongst the different client teams. The VC topics will be refined based on participant feedback/interests from the previous exchanges.
Service Delivery and Rebuilding the Social Contract in FCV
Government officials and policy makers from Burundi and Nigeria were able to gain new learnings on enhancing institutionalization of participatory local development and service delivery from the sharing of the experience by the national coordinators of CDD programs in Guinea and in Cameroon in improving service delivery for rural communities in FCV contexts. In Guinea, a successful CDD program has recently been institutionalized in the form of a National Fund for Local Development, created by the government and funded using 15% of the country’s mining revenue, to be redistributed to local governments and spent using CDD processes. The program is also building on its experience at the community level to pilot a community-based early warning system to respond to local conflicts. In Cameroon, the Community Development Program Support Project (PNDP) is in its third phase and seeks to strengthen participatory development processes for the delivery of social and economic infrastructure. In response to the increasing forced displacement challenges in Cameroon, this project has been scaled up with support from the IDA refugee support window to support refugees and host communities as part of an integrated approach to displacement, in collaboration with interventions in health, education and safety nets. Similarly, Guinea and Cameroon were also able to draw inspiration from and exchange ideas with Nigeria on their ideas and innovations for social inclusion, particularly on the empowerment of women. In addition, following the VC on disruptive technology in CDD, further discussions were held with Amplio and the governments of Cameroon and Nigeria to explore the feasibility of deploying Amplio in their respective CDD projects to promote awareness and engagement amongst communities.
The activities were led by the World Bank. The main beneficiaries were the projects in Cameroon, Guinea, Burundi and Nigeria.
Amplio participated as a resource in one video conference.
World Bank Funded Projects in Cameroon, Guinea, Nigeria and Burundi: