Community-driven development (CDD) has attracted the attention of governments and international organizations through its promise of sustainable, pro-poor development that involves local communities in program design and decisionmaking. Empirical evidence of CDD’s effectiveness has not been very strong, however, with some studies providing support to CDDs and others not. This study addresses this problem, offering fresh analysis of CDD programs by assessing the Fadama II Project, the largest agricultural CDD program in Nigeria. Fadama II aimed to increase the income of farmers, fishers, and other poor people in Nigeria’s low-lying floodplains, or fadama areas, where poverty is concentrated. Drawing on a survey of the experiences of almost two thousand Nigerians—both Fadama II participants and those outside the project’s parameters—the authors identify key strengths and weaknesses of the program. Fadama II has succeeded in raising beneficiaries’ real incomes by roughly 60 percent and dramatically increasing the value of productive assets owned by private and civil society organizations. Moreover, by promoting public goods such as roads, Fadama II has even benefited people who were not participants in the project. Nevertheless, the poorest households, including those headed by women, have yet to see their incomes increase as dramatically as those of better-off households. Also, participation in Fadama II depended partially on financial contributions often beyond the means of poorer households. Future CDD programs need to address these problems through improved targeting of poor and vulnerable groups, creation of affordable rural credit services, and other reforms. This study offers a carefully balanced analysis that will be valuable to policymakers, donors, and others interested in the potential of community-driven development.
education, environment, science & technology
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