Enhancing regional knowledge on effective participatory development models to address Fragility, Conflict and Violence risks in West and Central Africa

Key Contact
Maya Boulos
Start Date
End Date
Funding Amount
$ 70,000


Building on previous knowledge-exchange initiatives at the World Bank, this platform aimed to: (i) consolidate operational knowledge on participatory local development and service delivery in Fragile, Conflict and Violence (FCV) contexts in the region; (ii) support the sharing of this knowledge between neighboring countries with varying experience on the topic and (iii) facilitate the harmonization of approaches and strengthen the quality of Community and Local Development  (CLD) implementation on aspects such as climate adaptation, social cohesion, citizen engagement, and digital solutions.

The platform serves as an exchange and learning space for client counterparts and practitioners (often represented by the coordinators and key staff of the Project Implementation Units) from eleven countries in West and Central Africa: Benin, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Chad, Côte d’Ivoire, Ghana, Guinea, Mali, Niger, Togo and Senegal.


Access to basic services at the local level is a common challenge across the platform’s member countries. Many of them face contexts of FCV, in which the state-society relationship has eroded due to perceived lack of responsiveness to the needs of local populations. Marginalized or vulnerable groups are particularly at risk and exposed to poverty, conflict and displacement, and the effects of climate change.

Effective and inclusive local development planning and service delivery improve the state-society relationship in remote and conflict-affected countries. CLD is a key approach adopted in FCV environments to foster effective participatory local development. However, putting such CLD programs into practice comes with its own set of challenges: the institutionalization of CLD programs and transitioning to government-owned durable practices; the inclusion of vulnerable people and marginalized groups; and the prioritization of global threats like climate change, conflict and violence are all shared challenges for effective CLD programs.


To reach the objectives set for the AFW South-South learning exchange platform on CLD, a series of four learning roundtables (two virtual and two in-person) were organized. The events were preceded by discussions with the participating projects about the priority themes to cover, the speakers to invite and the ideal format and location of the events. They were followed by surveys for participants’ feedback on their satisfaction and learning experience, as well as the publication of blogs or reports to document key learning. The entire materials generated by the platform (event pages, recordings, presentations and blogs) can be found on the platform’s site. The events dealt with key challenges in the implementation of CLD programs, identified by the members of the platform.  

Community and Local Development in Fragility, Conflict and Violence Contexts

The first virtual roundtable took place on November 22, 2022, and focused on the challenges and impact of CLD programs in FCV contexts. The event had 105 participants from seven countries (Cameroon, Mali, Niger, Chad, Togo, Burkina Faso, Senegal). Key takeaways:

  • CLD promotes conflict prevention and social cohesion through the establishment of mechanisms that identify sources of tension and allow dialogue between all concerned stakeholders to identify joint “win-win” solutions.
  • Local governments (municipal councils) play a leading role in ensuring project ownership, sustainability, and inclusion in country systems.
  • Relying on traditional leaders enables to foster civic engagement and resolve community tensions.

Social Cohesion and Community-led Development

The second virtual roundtable was organized on March 9, 2023, and explored the relationship between social cohesion and CLD. Best practices by expert speakers from Mercy Corps, the World Bank Group and Country panelists were shared. Eighty-eight participants attended from ten countries (Guinea, Benin, Senegal, Burkina Faso, Côte d’Ivoire, Chad, Togo, Ghana, Cameroon, Niger). Key takeaways:

  • Programs designed to strengthen social cohesion should measure and identify how components of social cohesion differ across context, and design and target interventions accordingly.
  • Social cohesion can contribute to conflict resilience by preventing small scale disputes to escalate into larger conflicts, particularly, in contexts where there is no strong formal (state) and/or informal institutions that can facilitate nonviolent resolutions of conflicts.
  • Improving service delivery and investments within and between communities for economic developments have proven easier in contexts characterized by higher levels of trust and civil engagement.


Locally-led Climate Action and CLD

The platform’s third event was held within the context of the Second Lake Chad Forum 2023  which took place from May 23-25, 2023 in Niamey, Niger. The Forum is an annual event which brings together actors, decision-makers, and researchers to discuss sustainable development of natural resources, climate resilience, mobility, peace, stability, and regional integration challenges faced by Lake Chad Basin countries.

The platform held a dedicated session on integrating climate action in CLD, feeding into the key thematic focus of the forum on climate change. Thirty-five participants from ten countries attended this dedicated session either virtually or in person. Key takeaways:

  • Climate change is one of the key drivers of internal and external population displacement in sub-Saharan Africa.
  • Strengthening local governments capacities and supporting citizen engagement in sector programs is of the utmost importance for the effectiveness of a locally led climate action.
  • Promoting “climate smart agriculture,” which combines local practices with “modern” agronomic techniques is a solution for green agriculture and preservation of natural resources.


Digital Solutions for CLD

This final event was an in-person co-creation workshop that took place from November 30 to December 1, 2023 in Cotonou, Benin to explore the role of digital tools in improving transparency, accountability, efficiency, and impact in CLD projects. The event brought together 55 participants representing the Project Implementation Units (PIUs) from Benin, Cote d’Ivoire, Guinea, Mali, Togo, Ethiopia and Kenya. Key takeaways:

  • CLD digital tools have the potential to harmonize interventions, reduce duplication, and respond to local needs.
  • Digital CLD tools can enhance the effectiveness of CLD projects in engaging communities and giving them greater voice in local development.
  • Sharing of used source codes and new features added to digital tools through a platform will allow other countries to benefit from them.

Lessons Learned

  • Face-to-face roundtables, combined with active workshops are the most effective learning exchange modality. This method is ideal for first-hand testing and practicing of approaches and learning on the ground. It reinforces knowledge and allows participants to link knowledge to their own context and build bridges for ongoing peer-to-peer learning by themselves.
  • A client-led approach is indispensable to create buy-in, ensure regular participation and relevant content that responds to needs identified by practitioners themselves.
  • For sustainability, it is central to build a repository of knowledge where all the tools, approaches and methodologies remain available to interested parties as a reference.

Beneficiaries / Participants

General Director                                                        Agence Nationale de Financement des Collectivités (ANAFIC)                                                              Guinea

PIU Coordinator                                                        Casamance Economic Development Project                                                                                          Senegal

PIU Coordinator                                                        Community-Based Recovery and Stabilization Project for the Sahel                                                      Mali

PIU Coordinator                                                        Community-Based Recovery and Stabilization Project for the Sahel                                                      Burkina Faso

PIU Coordinator                                                        Gulf of Guinea Lagging Regions Social Cohesion Project                                                                       Benin

PIU Coordinator                                                        Gulf of Guinea Lagging Regions Social Cohesion Project                                                                       Togo

PIU Coordinator                                                        Gulf of Guinea Lagging Regions Social Cohesion Project                                                                       Côte d'Ivoire

PIU Coordinator                                                        Gulf of Guinea Lagging Regions Social Cohesion Project                                                                       Ghana

Division Head                                                            Lake Chad Basin Commission                                                                                                                 Chad

PIU Coordinator                                                        Lake Chad Region Recovery and Development Project                                                                           Cameroon

PIU Coordinator                                                        Lake Chad Region Recovery and Development Project                                                                           Niger

Country Government Representative                       Makueni County                                                                                                                                         Kenya

High Commissioner for the Sedentarization of Herders     Office of the Presidency                                                                                                                    Benin

PIU Coordinator                                                         Re-Insertion of Ex-Combatants Project                                                                                                      Mali

M&E Specialist                                                          Development Response to Displacement Impacts Project in the Horn of Africa Phase 2                          Ethiopia

World Bank Contribution

The World Bank led the planning, organization, and implementation of all the activities of the platform and facilitated the exchange of knowledge, learning and experience as a convener, technical advisor, and financier. Adopting a participatory approach, platform members identified the priority themes, learning, approaches, speakers, and content.

Moving forward

PIUs and the World Bank team will continue to build on this community of practice to communicate and exchange knowledge on CLD. The team is currently exploring ways to embed this knowledge exchange and dialogue as part of the interested projects’ annual workplan and budgets.


In total, the four events gathered around three hundred participants ranging from practitioners, key PIU staff, academics, International and National non-governmental organizations, United Nations agencies and local decision-makers.

Sharing knowledge, building capacity

In each post-event survey, participants highlighted learning about innovative approaches and solutions from expert speakers and country panelists as a key benefit of the platform. Another benefit mentioned was the capacity building provided through events especially during the Digital tools and CLD workshop. A few examples of participant feedback are listed below:

Practical experience shared in panel discussions by Guinea, Benin, and Senegal PIUs on the dimensions of Social Cohesion (“linking, “bridging” and “bonding”) was rated by participants as applicable to their work with one participant noting the “very good examples on what worked and why.”

Presentations by the Food and Agriculture Organization and the University of Diffa on innovative agriculture for land preservation, which increases production while responding to climate change, captured the attention of participants in the third event. This session was very highly rated on providing useful and applicable knowledge.

Beyond the exchange of knowledge, participants have been encouraged to adopt best practices that were showcased. After practically testing the digital tools in action during the fourth CLD event, the Guinea PIU opted to hire a full-stack developer to replicate the CLD application used in Benin and Togo.

Creating a community of practice

Following each event, most participants reported interest in carrying on the dialogue and peer-to-peer learning with other members. Participants reported that experience sharing was valuable for the implementation of the community-driven approach in their operations. After each roundtable, participants mentioned that they will continue the conversation with their counterparts to better understand approaches used in their countries and perpetuate learning. This was particularly the case for participants in the first and second roundtables, during which panelists from Cameroon, Mali, Niger, Benin, Guinea, and Senegal shared compelling examples of successes and challenges in CLD operations and social cohesion in FCV contexts.

Future Orientations

The face-to-face workshop in December 2023 was an opportunity for PIU representatives to meet in-person, and they expressed their desire to pursue knowledge, learning and experience sharing through the South-to-South Platform and to strengthen this community of practice. To do so, they suggested to have a formal coordination committee and an action plan with clear responsibilities per country to guarantee the operationality and effectiveness of the exchange platform. The Africa West Social Sustainability and Inclusion unit (SAWS4) unit is exploring options to continue supporting this dialogue through existing operations with dedicated components for regional knowledge management.


All knowledge-sharing events were organized by the World Bank’s Africa West Social Sustainability and Inclusion unit (SAWS4), in collaboration with the SSI Global unit (SSIDR), the West Africa Social Development Unit (SAWDR), and the Africa East Social Sustainability and Inclusion unit (SAES2). The events benefitted from the interventions of various expert speakers from:

  • PIUs in Chad, Cameroon, Niger, Burkina Faso, Mali, Togo, Benin, Ghana, Côte d’Ivoire, Guinea, and Senegal
  • Mercy Corps
  • FAO
  • University of Diffa