DP82 Community-driven development: a field perspective on possibilities and limitations

Development Policy Centre Discussion Paper No. 82

By Bobby Anderson

June 2019

Community-driven development, or CDD, is a widely used participatory project methodology that delivers public goods chosen by communities. However, its utility has often been questioned, with claimed impacts on equality and social cohesion falling under particular scrutiny. With that criticism in mind, the author describes the philosophical and operational origins of CDD and aspects of its recent evolution. He reiterates the core functionality of CDD and the tension that exists between the methodology’s ethnographic underpinnings and the planner’s desire to predict and quantitatively measure all manner of outcomes beyond the primary impact of small-scale infrastructure and the participatory methodology which decided it. He explains the limitations of the model when select development workers expand it and seek to systematise indirect impacts that occurred outside CDD’s core deliverables.

Anderson, B. 2019, ‘Community-driven development: a field perspective on possibilities and limitations’, Discussion Paper No. 82, Development Policy Centre, Crawford School of Public Policy, Australian National University, Canberra.

Bobby Anderson

Bobby Anderson is a Research Fellow at Chiang Mai University’s School of Public Policy, and works for Cardno. He has worked on community-driven development projects for 14 years.