Successful Results Achieved in Community-based Development

Community-based development has become an innovative approach in IFAD funded programs. In some cases, the approach has maximized the benefits that programs expect to bring to target groups.

Three success stories from IFAD funded programs in Nepal, Pakistan and India highlight why a community-based development approach is useful. The most outstanding reason is that the approach is demand-driven. That means the community participates in making decisions on what they need and where the programs can help. The approach is also very open as it allows plans to be revised in accordance with villagers’ needs. Moreover, demand-driven development helps to mobilize and link different resources and contributions from donors, the Government and the community.

The success story in India is the Songkal Pool Fish Sanctuary on the Simsang River at Rombagre Village. Though Songkal Pool was one of the famous spots for community fishing for over 30 years, it was selected to be the fish breeding pool. The decision badly influenced those who made their living by fishing. The program had made effort to engage the community to maintain this innovation. After 8 years, the villagers finally saw how good the innovation was – the fish population blooming, the increase of income that they got from selling big fish, and the development of eco-tourism as well. The innovation has been replicated in many project villages.

Mr. Abdul Karim shares his lesson learnt from how to involve women in decision making in mountainous area in Pakistan where most villagers are Muslim. The project design required high ratio of women participation in the implementation of project activities. This was very challenging for the project as the Muslim women are not allowed to socialize much - even when outsiders were not welcomed in this area. The decision to involve women led to the formation of women groups with 10 to 25 members in each. Groups held meetings on a monthly basis to discuss their demands and create "demand lists" which were sent to the project. Project funding was then allocated to groups and used in the most effective way.

The story shared by Mr. Raj Babu Shrestha is about the participatory planning process. Many different tools were used to capture the needs from the community level. In other words, the planning process allowed the villagers decide what they wanted to produce and how much capital was needed. The project supported their efforts by standing beside them to establish common interest groups, provide micro-finance and mobilize outside resources and contributions.