Getting infrastructure into poor communities

Getting infrastructure into poor communities

What is Community Driven Development, (CDD) and when is it appropriate?

In developing countries, peri-urban slums, poor urban and rural communities may not be well served by 'market' or traditional 'top down' public sector delivery of urban infrastructure.

Informal peri-urban settlements develop and improve over time, if allowed; but this process is regularly jeopardised by a wide range of constraints, including:

  • Physical and technical: difficult sites and terrain and complicated and crowded site layouts which make conventional services provision difficult
  • Economic and financial: the high cost of water and sanitation to families of low income, including connection fees, the shortage of (conventional) capital for investment
  • Institutional: ineffective public works systems, that see these difficulties and put serving the poor into a 'too difficult' box
  • Structural: planning and zoning exclusions and land tenure issues Serving their needs better requires different institutional, funding and organisational approaches, including facilitating and even encouraging working with the existing (slum) settlements.

See: Constraints in Providing Water and Sanitation Services to the Urban Poor U.S. Agency for International Development, 1993

One approach to improve delivery is Community-Driven Development (CDD)"an approach that gives control of development decisions and resources to community groups. Poor communities receive funds, decide on their use, plan and execute the chosen local projects and monitor the provision of services that result. It improves not just incomes but also people's empowerment, the lack of which is a form of poverty as well."

Why Community Driven Development (CDD)?ul>

  • Enhances sustainability and makes poverty reduction efforts more responsive to demand
  • Increases efficiency and effectiveness of poverty reduction efforts through working at a local level
  • Inclusive of poor and vulnerable groups, builds positive social capital and gives them greater voice both in their communities and with government entities

Consider different option when designing a CDD project

Alternative institutional arrangements
CDD projects require different institutional arrangements, to facilitate coordination. They are often delivered through local Community Based Organisations (CBOs), working in partnership with NGOs, private companies, or local or central government..

Source: Institution Options for Local Rural Infrastructure Services presentation by Gerrard, C

Financing options other than grants

Since projects are initiated/coordinated by wider common interests, the community end-users and/or private investors may also contribute to funding the project. Finance options (which may be a combination of these) include:

  • Direct Community Contribution (in cash or 'in-kind', perhaps labour and/or materials)
  • Credit Financing of the Community Contribution (by micro-finance, or via a CBO )
  • Private Commercial Investment


Design principles for partnerships
Partnerships play a key role in CCD projects. To enable and enhance their role in such projects:

  • Align rules with national decentralisation policies
  • Strengthen community voices and participation in local government decision making
  • Invest in Government and CBO capacity building
  • Delegate control to the lowest appropriate level


Further reading, examples and opportunities:
IFAD's engagement in community-driven development
Slum Networking
ADB: Supporting CDD"
World Bank, Community Driven Development (CDD) Principals
WSUP - projects in Africa, Latin America, Asia