“Successfully Adapting Community-Driven Development Approaches to a Post-conflict Context”
In 2003, after two decades of fighting for independence, the conflict in the Casamance, an area in Senegal south of the Gambia, finally came to an end. Tens of thousands of people who had been driven from their villages by the fighting between the army and separatist rebels, returned home. Peace settled in, just as life in villages began going back to normal.
In an effort to support the restoration of normal social and economic activities and prepare for future development programs in these newly-accessible areas of the Casamance, a $2 million grant was given to the Republic of Senegal under the Japan Social Development Fund (JSDF) program. The purpose for the grant, which funded a total of 91 projects, was to extend basic social infrastructure and economic support services to poor communities in newly-accessible areas of the Casamance following the recent ease in hostilities in this historic conflict zone of Senegal.
The project built off the base of the successful community-driven development approaches pioneered by the Social Development Fund Agency (SDFA) elsewhere in Senegal, while adapting and testing these approaches to be used in a post-conflict setting within the country.
To share knowledge and lessons learned from the Casamance project, the JSDF team, in collaboration with the World Bank Institute (WBI), the Global Development Learning Network (GDLN), and the Africa region, organized a one day workshop on April 7, 2009 with key stakeholders.
Under the theme of “Community Driven Development in a Post Conflict Setting”, the team put together an event that linked participants through GDLN Affiliate Centers in Benin, Cote d’Ivoire, Central African Republic, Democratic Republic of Congo, Niger, Senegal and in Washington, DC. These participants ranged from government representatives from Japan and Senegal, as well as civil society, NGOs and the private sector and the media.
Commenting on the impact of the project during his opening remarks, World Bank Country Director for Senegal, Mr. Habib Fetini said «when dealing with humanitarian conflicts in Africa, we need to promote projects such as this one so that, in the end, others –who are also living in conflict-affected areas– can benefit from the knowledge and lessons learned as well as help improve their lives. »
Designed as a multi-country South-South knowledge exchange event, the workshop had three objectives: a) share lessons learned from the project with development practitioners and policy makers in other post-conflict regions; b) discuss the relevance of these lessons in other regional contexts; and, c) share reflections on their applicability.
To help prepare for the workshop, Bank teams from JSDF and GDLN visited site projects in the Casamance and in Dakar to interview various stakeholders. These ranged from the Executive Secretary of the PNDL, to local town mayors, direct project beneficiaries, the “barefoot experts” and even a “former” combatant. The interviews helped capture the lessons learned from implementing the project on video and several multimedia tools.
Thanks to the active participation of local communities, the project was not only successful, but it was also implemented in a record time. The JSDF grant helped improve access to social services and economic opportunities by the poorest communities and strengthen community capacity, social cohesion and trust by vesting control over resources and decisions to the community/village level in keeping with the Bank's CDD strategy.
Particularly striking about this project were the following aspects:
- The outreach to the poorest and most vulnerable groups. The project was implemented in villages that had been greatly affected by the conflict—as some of these had been abandoned due to the war. To encourage people to come back to their villages, the project provided some much needed infrastructure, such as schools and health huts, which were deliberately targeted by the fighting forces during the war. Assistance was also given to the disabled, in particular the handicapped, victims of land mines, the visually impaired and albinos.
- The participation and empowerment of the poorest people. Since the project was implemented at the lowest level (the village), the population identified by the various small projects received training in procurement and financial management. They also took ownership of all activities to be carried out under each project, which resulted in them being implemented in record time.
Commenting on this latter point, State Minister, Minister for Decentralization and Local Collectivities, Mr. Ousmane Massek Ndiaye said: «the participative approach at all levels proved to be extremely useful. The communities were at the heart of the project, which explains why it was so successful. »
As of today, 74 projects out of the 91 financed under the grant were for community projects and 17 of them for individual revenue-generating projects. Of these, 22 have been fully completed and are operational. During the workshop, the Japanese government announced that they were granting an additional $100,000 to the Government of Senegal to help complete the remaining 69 projects.,
As H.E. Mr Takashi Saito, the Ambassador for Japan in Senegal, put it « people in the Casamance know very well that Japan cannot, alone, bring peace to their local communities, nor can the World Bank ensure development in the area. They know very well that they have to mobilize and rely on themselves and work together to realize their own dreams. »