Review of Community-Based and – Driven Development

This review provides insight on community-based development (CBD) and community-driven development (CDD). The review is based on economic techniques and anthropological methods.

CBD is  a term for projects that actively include beneficiaries in their design and management. CDD refers to CBD in which the communities have direct control over key project decisions. The article begins by summarizing the conceptual foundations and characteristics of projects that best thrive in CBD and CDD. CDD seeks to enhance sustainability, make development more inclusive, empower people, build social capital, and strengthen governance.

The first section covers a brief history of participatory development and development assistance. Next, participation, community, and social capital are discussed. Limitations of participation include financial losses and time commitments due to required adequate participation. In addition exposure to knowledge will not necessarily transform group attitudes. Participatory events are often very political in which outside agendas can be reflected. Furthermore, a community can be challenging to define due to complicated ethnic and religious identities.

The impact of CDD initiatives is discussed. In terms of targeting, the outside center can often identify poor communities, but does less well with identifying the poor within communities. Community involvement does not always improve public service delivery. Community-managed projects are better maintained than projects managed by the local government.

Economic and social heterogeneity and risk capture by elites are examined. Collective action can be challenging in a large homogeneous group in which the individual can make no significance in the level of provision of the good. Inequality of interest is more common in larger groups. Higher levels of village inequality reduce the probability of participation in any group.

The role of external agents and the state is addressed. Community initiatives are typically created by a central authority. Sometimes field staff can be driven by incentives which are not in line with the project needs. Accountability and state facilitation is key in participation. CBD and CDD can be challenging to scale up because creating a project requires a long-term vision and dedicated leaders. Projects can be scaled up by carefully selecting pilots in selected communities. The process should be gradual and it should be noted that initial evaluations might be unfavorable. Evaluations should be administered throughout the project.

I thought that this review did a good job at summarizing key findings and strengths and limitations from CBD and CDD projects. During my trip to the Philippines with Dr.Coles I will keep these findings in mind as well as questions including: at what point does the shift go from community based development to community driven development? I will look to see if I can find patterns that support or go against findings from this article.
Ghazala, M. and  Vijayendra,R. (2004).Community-Based and – Driven Development: A Critical Review. The World Bank Research Observer, 19, (1), 1-39. Retrieved from