Community service found here
Robert S Chase, the World Bank’s coordinator on the demand for good governance, tells Matthew D’Arcy that community driven development is crucial for the future.
The Millennium Development Goals hold high priority for many involved in international development. Contested as the feasibility of achieving them by 2015 might be, their importance as an effort cannot be understated.
Coming up with sets of targets for achievement can sometimes result in much criticism for public services. The UK’s National Health Service has recently witnessed complaints that, as patient priorities are re-arranged in order to meet quotas, results-driven targets are not always proving beneficial for patients. Equally, telling governments of developing countries to reduce HIV/AIDS rates by X% or to a certain level is likely to have little effect when the circumstances surrounding the challenge vary considerably from region to region, particularly in areas where strong social stigma is attached to the issue. While goals are undoubtedly important, generally enforcing mandatory and authoritarian targets can seemingly have negligible or even negative effects.
In the case of international development, an important public service in itself, one potential solution to this challenge is the direct involvement of multiple stakeholders in the decision-making processes. Robert Chase explains that this is a key strategic priority.
“Putting people first is vital,” says Chase. “Development organisations must use that approach for investment in hard infrastructure. People, who are the stakeholders of development, need to have a say in the institutions that govern their life and the changes that are going on through development processes.”
To achieve this, the Social Development Department is working on participation, and central to this is the promotion of the voices of the end users – the people whom development is to serve. “There are groups who have been traditionally disadvantaged, not just in development but in the way societies are often run,” says Chase. “As a result of inclusion, these people, such as indigenous children, are sharing the benefits that might come about.”
Community Driven Development (CDD) is now becoming an increasingly prevalent way for the World Bank to distribute resources. For Chase this represents a “more exciting approach” than the Bank has taken in the past.
This way of working can currently be seen in Indonesia in the Kecamatan Development Programme (KDP). The initiative is delivering increased involvement of the populace by ensuring that more decisions are made at the local level. Essentially, it is about moving power away from the capital, Jakarta, and into the local communities.
With the goals of alleviating poverty, strengthening local government and community institutions, and improving local governance1 KDP has become a highly regarded example of community driven development, and with good reason, suggests Chase. “There has been systematic effort to support citizens’ voices in decision-making as de-centralisation continues,” he says. “KDP has a couple of really nice characteristics because it not only promotes citizen voice, but it also promotes government accountability because that voice needs to hold the government to account.”
Importantly, KDP has paid for local infrastructure, built a number of roads and paths, and has enabled the construction of several bridges. “The really nice characteristic is that it is decided upon by people in the poorest parts of the country and therefore outcomes can be really, really focused on serving the poorest people in the country.”
There are now several operations like KDP in existence as the World Bank focus is shifting towards community driven development. Chase explained that about 10% of the World Bank’s lending, amounting to around $1.5-2bn per year is being awarded to community driven development initiatives. “Our primary clients have to be central governments, because of legal statute,” he explains. “That’s a good thing because that’s the authorising environment for what happens in the country.”
However, for Chase, it is not possible to solely work with central governments. In the pursuit of good governance and corruption eradication, something that has become key for the World Bank, “You need to have non-government organisations, you need to have church groups, you need to have the private sector and you need all of these working in consort.
“The most effective way to put people at the centre of development is to get central government, local government, civil society organisations and the private sector sitting around a table and asking how we are going to make things better for the local community,” he says. “We need to get them talking in the same language about the same issues.”
Ultimately involvement of multi-stakeholder groups in this sense is not only a way to bring forward the views of those whom development is there to help, but it is also a way of easing adjustments to change. “Involving communities allows there to be behaviour change when people know the sort of scenario that they are facing,” says Chase. By having networks that reach down to the local level, it is possible to build awareness, and alleviate ‘information poverty’ where there exists a lack of information as to what that the future might hold. Through community driven development, there is the opportunity to “break through some of that poverty by talking through some of the analysis to give a deeper understanding to the communities where change will be necessary.”
This kind of social development is fundamental to all development objectives. “Institutional change requires bringing people together,” says Chase. “If you talk to the most technical financial analyst or technical hydro-engineer, each will agree that ultimately it does come down to organising the way people react to and respond to change and incentives.”
The building of hydropower dams is a case in point. Here, the primary challenge would be changing attitudes towards environmental concerns and long-term development, through the empowerment and involvement of local communities.
Clearly, community driven development is a way forward for international development. It is in fact not new, and has been successfully implemented by NGOs and charitable organisations for many decades. There now exists the opportunity for the World Bank to implement community driven development on a much larger scale, and learn from the lessons of its use by others.
In essence, for Chase, there is a need for multi-stakeholder engagement to really operate in moving forward on the international development agenda. “Social development has to be the base on which all other types of development operate. It offers the opportunity to bring in opinion from those who have been disadvantaged, and provides checks and balances against corruption, making the central government client accountable to a wider spectrum of voices.”