International Rescue Committee (IRC)

A closer look at community-driven development programs

A man in eastern Congo lays bricks as he helps rebuild his war-torn village
The IRC-run Tuungane program has helped nearly 3 million people living in remote war-torn eastern Congo rebuild villages and construct new clinics, wells, schools, bridges and roads.

Photo: Peter Biro/IRC

As part of our ongoing efforts to evaluate the impact of our work and use the knowledge gained to improve our programs, the International Rescue Committee has partnered with the United Kingdom's Department for International Development (DFID) and the Balsillie School of International Affairs on a critical review of impact evaluations of community-driven development (CDD) programs. CDD gives communities the power to choose and design development projects such as building or renovating roads, schools, wells, markets and hospitals.

The review, published in May 2013, focuses on evaluations of five CDD projects that have been implemented in conflict-affected areas. Tuungane, implemented by the IRC and CARE in the Democratic Republic of Congo, is the IRC’s largest program to date and its evaluation forms a part of this review.  Evaluations of CDD programs in Liberia, Afghanistan, Sierra Leone and Aceh, Indonesia are also included in the review.

The objective of the review is to synthesize learning from all these evaluations – to see what works and what does not, and also to identify and better understand the factors that may help or prevent us from seeing the effects we expect to see. In general, CDD projects have not had the expected impact on economic welfare, social cohesion or democratic decision-making processes in the targeted communities.

The review points to many possible factors to explain the results we observe. These include (but are not limited to) complex program design, variable implementation quality and over-ambitious outcomes and the lack of a clear theory about how the program works. With these findings in mind, the IRC is engaging policy, academic and practitioner communities to develop new approaches for future community-driven development programming and evaluation in conflict-affected settings.


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