Sustainable Development by 2030 Requires Community-led Development

“For us, then, to reach our twin goals, three things have to happen—inclusive economic growth, investment in human beings, and insurance against the risk that people could fall back into poverty. Grow, invest, and insure: that’s our shorthand for it…We reject “trickle-down” notions that assume that any undifferentiated growth permeates and fortifies the soil and everything starts to bloom, even for the poor.  We need to find an economic growth model that lifts up the poorest citizens rather than enriching only those at the top.”

-Jim Young Kim, President, World Bank Group address at the 2015 WB/IMF Annual Meetings

At the United Nations on September 30, over a dozen INGOs and other likeminded development stakeholders officially launched the Movement for Community-led Development during UNGA70. The motivation for this Movement stems from the need to push for an exponential increase in bottom-up development initiatives that mobilize and empower citizens as the key agents of change for their own development.

Co-hosted by the Government of the Philippines, featuring local representatives from the Kalahi-CIDSS program, the Movement launch yielded provocative discussion around the inefficiencies of prioritizing top-down development approaches and resource provisions [in the absence of humanitarian needs]. On the heels of the adoption of the Sustainable Development Goals, there are already sobering concerns around the realistic capacity and resources to achieve all of the goals and targets by 2030. Experts from the Millennium Challenge Corporation, Restless Development, Institute for State Effectiveness and Heifer International explained how the sweat equity from community-led development, notably youth and women, would undoubtedly provide crucial capacity to achieve the goals at all levels. 

The discussion included two prominent elements: 1) strengthening good, local governance for effective partnerships with communities, and; 2) integrated strategies to build the whole of communities and individuals.

Using the example of rebuilding infrastructure and effective service delivery in his community after Typhoon Haiyan, Mayor Pelagio R. Pecson Jr, of Tanauan, Leyte in the Philippines, one of Kalahi-CIDSS’ operational areas, explained how strides in community-led development built significant resilience to trauma and devastation in the wake of disaster. The accountability and leadership skills of citizens and their responsive local government meant shorter crisis and less costly crisis management to rebuild.

Heifer International’s Partnerships and Business Development Manager, Kamil Madanat, spoke specifically about the crucial need for integrated programming at the community level in order to break the cycle of poverty. Strategic interlinkages between sectors such as health, education, sanitation, improved agricultural techniques and food storage results in increased income due to healthier living standards and overall improvement in livelihoods. This includes decreasing time poverty, and expanding local economies through better market access and new value chain entry points. Kamil explained that the key implementers of these interventions were few others than trained community leaders and grassroots volunteers. He stated that “empowered communities will make better decisions,” defending that investment in human capital is greater than resource or monetary investments. John Coonrod, Executive Vice President of The Hunger Project added to this, saying that the “2030 agenda demands that people work together.”

While continuing the unveiling of the Movement for Community-led Development, Clare Lockhart, Founder and President of the Institute for State Effectiveness gave examples of how [at least] millions of crucial donor dollars are wasted as they “trickle down” from high-level and managerial positions through resources spent on program design without input or leadership from community members. Implementation and monitoring is then not only carried out in shorter time frames than from which significant impact can occur, but it often fails to fulfill intended goals due to poor applicability to the community and a lack of community ownership to ensure sustainability. One such example was the distribution of logs to repair and strengthen clay homes in rural Africa. The logs did not fit the existing home structures and time did not allow for complete reconstruction of the homes. The time and money intended to repair homes became fuel for local stoves; the people were still essentially homeless and the project did not yield a sustainable outcome.

Civil society and its most important partners – the local citizens for whom our work is intended – are increasingly demanding community-led prioritization from donors, bi-laterals and government funding agencies. This includes multi-sectoral funding streams, longer funding windows and flexible funding to ensure community ownership and leadership. This global call for action begins with the Movement for Community-led Development.

If your foundation, organization or company wants to join the Movement, please visit the site and submit your inquiry:

Financing Community-led Development: Putting People First

Screen Shot 2015-08-05 at 1.08.18 PMThe United Nations’ much anticipated Third Conference on Financing for Development (FfD3) has come and gone. Over four days, more than 6,000 high-level development actors gathered to discuss the needs and means to finance the implementation of the Post 2015 Development Agenda. What was declared as the final draft of the Addis Ababa Action Agenda (AAAA) left much to be desired, especially according to CSOs.

In the wake of the Zero Outcome Document of the Post 2015 Development Agenda, The Hunger Project and CONERN Worldwide‘s FfD3 side event, Financing Community-led Development: Putting People First, proves to be timely and crucially relevant. The Preamble of the Zero Outcome Document outlines five areas for intended outcomes by 2030: people, planet, poverty, prosperity and partnerships. The content states the need for integrated programming, cross-sectoral partnerships, leaving no one behind, and creating self-reliance for sustainable development. These points were key points made during the aforementioned FfD3 side event.

Chaired by Tom Arnold, coordinator ad interim of the SUN Movement, challenged attendees to consider grassroots, bottom-up development initiatives that place women at the center and prioritize partnerships with local governments. Orla O’Neill, Assistant Country Director of CONCERN Worldwide Ethiopia, spoke specifically about resilience-building and why it must be achieved at the community level. Orla noted the truest fact in development: poverty is complex and solutions must be designed accordingly at the local level. Much like her co-panelists’ affiliations, Orla explained that CONCERN integrates sectors of development and engages community members as partners and key stakeholders, rather than beneficiaries. CONCERN’s specific purpose around their efforts is “the ability of a community, to anticipate, respond to, cope with and recover from the effects of shocks and stresses that drive or exacerbate malnutrition in a timely and effective manner, without compromising their long-term prospects of moving out of poverty and hunger.” This is backed by the inalienable priority of communities being at the center of decision-making because of community members’ skills, experiences, opinions and closest understanding of their culture and needs.

Neguest Mekonnen, Country Director of The Hunger Project-Ethiopia provided the programmatic example of The Hunger Project’s Epicenter Strategy. Focusing closely on the role of women and voluntary leadership roles in local community clusters, Neguest discussed the need to mobilize several communities together to leverage available resources and capacities in order for people to invest in and be agents of their own development. A cluster of communities yields strength in numbers in establishing strong social accountability mechanisms to hold local governments to account and successfully partner with them to fulfill basic human rights services in the long-term. In the Epicenter Strategy, this includes training of trainers in local communities to fulfill “animator” roles as HIV educators, literacy and numeracy teachers, agricultural farming technique teachers, advocates for healthy pregnancies and micro-finance committee leaders. Without these local leaders and community knowledge, the lynchpin in mobilizing and transforming mind sets from hopelessness to empowerment would be impossible.

What is the role of youth at the local level? Burkina Faso’s UN Youth Envoy for the Post 2015 Development Agenda joined the panel as a youth representative for Restless Development. Cheick, a young male and development leader of several NGOs, spoke about the critical role of leveraging the large youth population for leadership roles at the grassroots level to mobilize and positively impression youth, especially at the adolescent age. Telling examples of failed development attempts to construct desirable and central water pumping stations in a village, Cheick explained that such a shortcoming was due entirely to a lack of community decision making and youth leadership. Without awareness of cultural traditions and emerging changes as recognized by youth, development initiatives risk failure – and wasting money – when solely implementing based on “expertise” or data. Cheick stated that the reality is that “youth want to be agents of change, not passive recipients of action.”

Speaking on behalf of the Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) of the United States Government, Beth Tritter, Vice President of Policy and Evaluation spoke from the lens of a foundation that stemmed from the UN’s first Conference on Financing for Development in Doha. Beth explained that MCC aims to yield results that outlive investments through prioritizing country ownership and country implementation to adapt initiatives most appropriately to local conditions and needs. Two mutually benefitting strengths of MCC: strengthening good governance and investing directly in citizens. Beth also noted that MCC’s scope covers all sectors and seeks to work with a multitude of stakeholders to achieve a shared vision of sustainable development. From the CSO perspective, it is encouraging that a community-oriented foundation that results from the first FfD still operates today, proving to other donors that their approach is worth adopting.

Financing community-led development is not only appropriate, but economically and sustainably promising. To achieve this, panelists called for multi-sectoral funding streams for longer term programs – estimating between five and eight years – as well as flexibility to accommodate changes to maintain relevance. There was also a strong preference for funding that benefits collaboratives or alliances. Such groups bring a multitude of expertise across sectors and are accountable to one another to fulfill goals. Most importantly, financing community-led development must prioritize community decision-making, community ownership, and country ownership in the longer term. Development initiatives must mitigate dependency, providing hand ups, solutions, training and alleviating time. This will not be accomplished to the utmost through “trickle-down” funding, higher level decision making and exclusive resource provisions. Invest in empowerment, locals, women, youth and integrated, long-term programming is the means if the goal is truly sustainable development that leaves no one behind.

Creating the Campaign for Community-led Development

2015-06 Workshop RebeccaOn the morning of Wednesday, June 24, the last day of InterAction Forum 2015, an excited and enthusiastic group of 50 NGO representatives participated in an Open Space workshop hosted by Catholic Relief Services, the Alliance to End Hunger and The Hunger Project.


  • Irene Amadu, Organizational Development Officer, Catholic Relief Services, Nigeria
  • John Coonrod, Executive Vice President, The Hunger Project
  • Kushal Neogy, Partnership and Capacity Strengthening Director, Catholic Relief Services, India
  • Rebecca Middleton, COO, Alliance to End Hunger (at left in photo above)

Short comments and reflections by the hosts preceded the group table discussions, to which the majority of the workshop was dedicated. During each of two rounds, each table of 10-12 was given post-its, markers, and a poster with four thematic boxes. Group members discussed their thoughts on each category in its relation to community-led development and from the very beginning, it was clear how diverse the crowd was and how everyone’s individual backgrounds made a big difference in how they approached each concept. Despite their differences, there were generally similarities and overarching themes within and across groups. This workshop focused on participation, rather than passive listening, which made it unique and very well-received by members attending the forum.

Session I: Define Community-led Development
Language: When considering what language should be employed, there was a focus on having an adaptable, flexible definition that acknowledges local knowledge and practices and respects the community’s structure. Additionally, it should identify and conflicts and interests clearly and openly, and most importantly, is welcoming to all groups.

Principles: Participants had an opportunity to become more creative in discussing the principles of community-led development they found most important. One of the most widely-agreed principles was the high level of attention given to local norms and cultural sensitivity, which leads to “local buy-in.” Another was the inclusion of all individuals, especially the marginalized, regardless of gender, education level, age, disability, or religious affiliation. More general, but equally important, principles discussed included decentralization, sustainability, trust and equity.

Evidence: There was a particularly lively debate among one group over organic vs non-organic change: which is more effective or is a mix of both the most efficient method? Common ideas were M&E evaluation, based on community data and statistics, with an additional clause that the community was to choose success indicators. The evidence should point to both a local and global impact and that it is sustainable beyond NGO and government engagement.

Practices: There were various ideas, with several highlighting again the importance of community structure, norms, and needs. Communities need to be given the tools necessary for decision-making and finding their own solutions, including proper training and broad, bottom-up participation. Practices should be characterized by humility and vulnerability, communication and cooperation, and mutual accountability.

Session II: Create the Campaign

After the first four elements above were presented by each group, everyone returned to the task for the second time, but this time, to discuss four different categories: Allies, Elements, Messages, and Tactics in community-led development.

Allies: Particularly in this session, the question commonly raised was what exactly defined communities in community-led development. Depending on their personal and professional backgrounds, it seemed many people defined it differently. However, when discussing what allies would be required in a campaign for community-led development, answers were fairly consistent: the communities themselves, religious and traditional leaders; institutions and universities; NGOs; the local and national government; the media; and even the donor agencies.

The elements of such a campaign would largely include money and resources, as well as a timeline and supporting data such as cost-benefit analyses and ROIs in preparation for arguments on the opposition. More qualitative elements would be the amount of willingness, motivation and interest within the campaign itself.

Messages: There were several variations of what messages the campaign should promote. It would have to communicate the benefits, successes and effectiveness to keep momentum, as well as specifying tangible and impactful goals. They should include narratives from the communities themselves and be multi-pronged to cater to different target audiences. What exactly do we need to do together to complete these goals?

Tactics: The final discussion varied from specific to general, from the sensitization and education of allies to general advocacy and policy. Additionally, content should be localized and involve a community dialogue. The use of media and social media, as well as enlisting certain champions and faith leaders, were also popular ideas.

Next steps: The hosts and leadership of other organizations will keep everyone informed, reach out to others, and will determine ways to formally establish the campaign and move it into action.

Localizing the SDGs in Malawi

On May 15, 2015, The Hunger Project and World Vision co-hosted a nationally-broadcast panel discussion in Lilongwe on localizing the Post-2015 Sustainable Development Goals in Malawi. The focused and frank discussion resulted in significant commitments to greater partnership among five key groups of development actors.

The panelists include:

  • Chris Kang’ombe, Principal Secretary of the Malawi Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development
  • Chancellor Kaferapanjira, president of the Malawi Chamber of Commerce and Industry
  • Gospel Kazako, Managing Director, Zodiak Broadcasting
  • Aubrey Chibwana, Executive Director, National Youth Council
  • Ronald Mtonga, Executive Director, CONGOMA: The Council of NGOs of Malawi

The discussion was moderated by:

  • Naile Salima, Advocacy Officer, World Vision-Malawi
  • Rowlands Kaotcha, Country Director, The Hunger Project-Malawi

In attendance were members of The Hunger Project Global Board of Directors who had traveled to Malawi for their annual meeting, and senior officials from UNDP, WFP, NEPAD, the EU and other agencies.

Some Characteristics of World Bank Experience with Community-Driven Development (CDD)

By the 1990s, economic failure and rural neglect in many countries were attributed to excessive centralization and top-down approaches.  While Community-driven Development (CDD) emerged as a response to this concern, it is not panacea nor a one-size fits all and many factors contribute to its success or failure. The centralization-decentralization dilemma remains a struggle about power and the perspective that there is a finite amount of economic and social resources.  The following touches upon what CDD is and its history, when and why it works, and the challenges surrounding the approach.


Community driven development (CDD) is a phrase that has had different meanings for different development agencies, ranging from consultation to empowerment (see Table 1 below).  CDD is an approach that emphasizes community control over planning decisions and investment resources.  CDD programs evolved out of an attempt to reverse traditional  “top-down”  service delivery  by  letting  communities  identify  and implement small-scale investments among several sectors. CDDs vary enormously, depending on country  contexts, government champions, and project task teams but the approach has been typically (although not always) used in one or the other of three contexts:

  • situations of fragility and/or post-conflict;
  • financial and economic crises; or
  • in middle-income countries where government bureaucracy and local administrations have failed to meet the needs of the poor and excluded.

The purpose of participatory programs is to enhance the involvement of the poor and the marginalized in community-led decision-making bodies to give citizens greater say in decisions that affect their lives. Community-driven development refers to projects in which communities, functioning outside a formal system of government, are given funds that they manage to implement interventions they have identified (Mansuri and Rao, 2013).

Devolving resources to communities required the development of new disbursement, procurement, and accountability mechanisms. In this respect, CDD by definition must rely on community empowerment to plan and execute sub-projects according to the community-defined priorities. Along this continuum,  Local and community driven development (LCDD) is not a project; it is an approach that aims to empower both communities and local governments with the resources and authority to use them flexibly, thus taking control of their development.  Empowering means the expansion of assets and capabilities of poor people to participate in, negotiate with, and hold accountable institutions that affect their lives. It means giving people access to voice and information, greater social inclusion and participation, greater accountability, and organizational strength (Binswanger-Mkhize, de Regt, and Spector, 2010).

Table 1  Timeline of Development Approaches

Indicator 19050s 1960s 1970s-1980s 1990s 2000 2005
Development approach Centralized, Decentralized Sectoral, technology-led, green revolution, irrigation development Special area or target group, ADP, and IRDP, NGOs and private sector CBD, SF and SAP CDD LCDD
Community Involvement Minimal Consultation Participation   ⟶⟶⟶⟶⟶ Empowerment

Source: Binswanger-Mkhize, de Regt, and Spector, 2010; and this author’s additions.

Legend:  ADP: area development program; IRDP: integrated rural development program; NGO: nongovernmental organization; CBD: community-based development; SF: social fund; SAP, social action program; CDD, community driven development; LCDD: local and community driven development.

CDD by the Numbers over time.  During Wolfensohn’s presidency 1995 to 2005, Mr. Wolfensohn was personally convinced that community decentralized approaches yielded better outcomes than top-down centralized.  He ordered a review of Bank lending experience and created a Bank-wide CDD working group to come up with clear definitions of CDD approaches and to review the portfolio of CDD lending.  Between FY 2000 and FY 2008, $16 billion was lent for 637 operations that contained elements of the CDD approach, or about 9 percent of total lending of the World Bank Group. For IDA lending, this percentage was higher about 16 percent.  According to a World Bank 2005 review entitled The Effectiveness of World Bank Support for Community Based and -Driven Development, during 1989 to 2003, the share of Bank projects with CDD components grew to 25 percent.  Over time, the results of social funds and CDD operations had better satisfactory outcomes and quality of supervision than Bank-wide averages.   In Wong, 2012, the paper states that the World Bank has supported 400 CDD projects in 94 countries, valued at almost $30 billion.  In Mansuri and Rao, 2013, the paper states that over the past decade, the World Bank has allocated almost $85 billion to local participatory development.

How do CDDs figure into the World Bank organization?  Key staff using or analysing the CDD approach work at the center of the World  Bank in the Social Development Department, Social Development Network created in approximately 1997.  Most Task Team Leaders who take CDD projects to the World Bank Board of Directors and are in charge of their implementation, disbursement and supervision are in the Human Development or Social Sector Divisions of Six Country Regions throughout the Bank, which include: Africa, East Asia and Pacific, European and Central Asia, Latin America and Caribbean, Middle East and North Africa, South Asia (not all regions have CDD projects).

Conceptual Framework for CDD.  Development policy that uses participatory processes needs to be informed by a thoughtful diagnosis of potential civil society failures, so that policy makers can clearly understand the tradeoffs involved in devolving decisions to local communities and can identify potential ways of repairing such failures.  Market and government failures are now reasonably well understood. Policy makers are less likely to assume markets will work perfectly or that governments can provide effective solutions to market failures. The policy literature is rife with solutions to market and government failures that assume that groups of people—village communities, urban neighborhood associations, school councils, water user groups—will always work toward the common interest.  Rarely is much thought given to the possibility of “civil society failure.” Organizing groups of people to solve market and government failures is itself subject to problems of coordination, asymmetric information, and pervasive inequality.  Civil society failure at the local level can be thought of as a situation in which groups that live in geographic proximity are unable to act collectively to reach a feasible and preferable outcome. It includes coordinated actions that are inefficient—or efficient but welfare reducing on average. (Mansuri and Rao, 2013)

The Internal Evaluation Group (IEG) is charged with evaluating the activities of the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (IBRD) and International Development Association (IDA) projects of the World Bank).  In 2005, it undertook an evaluation of social funds—one of the early types of community-driven development—and looked at the period from fiscal 1987 to fiscal 2000 and at the results available for the 98 social funds in 58 countries worth a total of $3.5 billion.  The evaluation found that 96 percent of closed  social funds had satisfactory outcomes against 71 percent for all Bank projects.  Social Funds worked especially well in post-conflict situations such as Cambodia and Nicaragua. IEG rated institutional development as substantial in 65 percent of projects (better than 36 percent for all Bank projects). Social funds demonstrated that they could help build the capacity of local governments, communities, and NGOs.  Their effectiveness was attributed to their autonomy from the line ministries of central governments.  Sustainability is likely for only 43 percent of projects against 51 percent for all Bank projects.

The design of CDD programs has evolved over the last two decades, with varying levels of decision-making authority (Wong, 2012).  Thinking of local development policy as occurring at the intersection of market, government, and civil society failures increases appreciation of context. Such interactions are conditioned by culture, politics, and social structure, and vary from place to place. A policy that works in one country, or even one municipality, may fail in another.   Factors to consider:

Country’s political system and context matter a great deal.  In democracies, electoral incentives shape participatory interventions.  Stable democracies allow stable trajectories of decentralization.  They have an affinity for empowered participation functioning in the presence of strong civic institutions.  At the national level, nationalist ideologies—the manner in which the state (colonial and postcolonial) has created and propagated identity—can create symbolic public goods that facilitate collective action.

History matters: Policy and  institutional reform—education systems, the judiciary, the media, and efforts at social inclusion—influence government responsiveness to civic mobilization.  Some countries have a long history of organic civic participation, developed in the struggles for independence from colonial rule or against the rule of entrenched elites. Such social movements have given legitimacy to civic activists and created a culture that facilitates civic mobilization. A history of organic participation creates a community of peer educator and an enabling environment within which social entrepreneurs can spark participatory innovations.

Social, economic, demographic, and cultural contexts matter: The nature and extent of social and economic inequality and the composition and diversity of groups affect induced and organic participation. Inequality and heterogeneity affect the cultures and norms of cooperation that evolve within a community. These norms have a bearing on collective action and on the role of local leaders.

Geography matters. Remoteness from more developed areas, difficult terrain, and harsh weather conditions can increase vulnerability, leading to weaker development outcomes. Both social heterogeneity and geography have a bearing on the local cooperative infrastructure—the community’s capacity for collective action.  If a village has a long history of successfully managing common property resources, that capacity can be drawn upon.

Lessons for success include:

  • Strong political leadership to decentralization and empowerment is essential;
  • Committed country leader and donors need to be opportunists, seizing occasions;
  • Successful scale-ups put money in the hands of communities to harness their latent capacity through learning-by-doing, supplemented by capacity building;
  • Successful scale-ups must have sound technical design (Binswanger-Mkhize, de Regt, Spector, 2010)

Local participation tends to work well when projects are based on well-thought out designs, facilitated by a responsive center, adequately and sustainably funded, and conditioned by a culture of learning by doing and where projects ensure that:

  • Structures allow for flexible, long-term engagement;
  • Design and impact evaluations are informed by political, social, and economic analysis;
  • Monitoring, using cost-effective tools for reporting, is a priority;
  • Facilitator feedback, as well as participatory monitoring and redress systems, are created; and
  • Honest feedback where failure is tolerated and innovation can take place.  (Mansuri and Rao 2013)

Cautionary lessons from history:

  • While empowering civic groups may lead to good outcomes, it is not clear that inducing civic empowerment is always superior to a market-based strategy or a strategy that strengthens the role of central bureaucrats. Policy makers need to keep this in mind as they consider how to harness the power of communities;  
  • CDD projects can be driven by sector specialists who do not necessarily see the institutional, social, and economic policy environment;
  • Governments are not always willing to devolve resources, power, or responsibility to communities or local governments.
  • The decision-making black box.  Impact evaluations tend to focus on outcomes and outputs, and communities expressed satisfaction with the programs and services in general but understanding the decision-making process in the allocation of resources and whether or not they are participatory or are they reinforcing established patronage systems has not been determined.  Why are some subprojects chosen and not others?  How to traditional power holders in the community view these CDD programs and their mechanisms for decision making?
  • Sustainability and social capital building and governance spillover requires training and capacity building of reform-minded local leaders to improve community ownership and buy-in.  Scaling-up can take as long as 15 years requiring a long-term commitment from donors, governments, and community leaders.
  • Financing can be provided through multi sectoral, ministry channels, block grants, district level resources, independent auditors/corruption.  Several CDD programs allocate community block grant amounts per village, municipality or area.  The grant amounts are determined by criteria, such as level of poverty, remoteness, number of villages per municipality, and/or population.  Often, later stages of CDD programs are supplemented with additional financing (AF) to keep programs sustainable.

Scaling-up feeds off of this idea of success.  The core philosophical underpinning of well-functioning, successful CDD are the values, elements, overall processes, and goals to adapt to and within the local context without undermining the universal philosophical underpinnings.

Few Scaling-up successes because:

  • The institutional setting may be hostile to CDD, vested interests, central government, competing NGOs.  Laws and regulations may not allow money to be disbursed directly to communities.  Central government may not allow local governments or communities provide their own education and/or primary health or to levy user fees or taxes.The social environment may deprive wom
  • Minorities of voice—Ethnic, religious and class conflict may undermine real participation by all.
  • Some CDD islands of success are not replicable because like many “boutiques,” they are too costly for the masses.   Where political resistance is strong, scaling up should not be attempted as the risks are too high.
  • Participatory interventions work best when they are supported by a responsive state.

Impact Evaluations

There are a minuscule number of CDDs that have benefited from a rigorous impact evaluation.  Out of 400 active CDD programs and 25 years of implementation, there are only 17 or so impact evaluations available at this point.  Technical expertise is one reason as they must be designed at the outset of the project implementation and this expertise is often lacking in local contexts.  More research and resources are needed to learn from the world’s experience from CDDs to date.


Hans Binswanger-Mkhize, de Regt, Jacomina P. and Stephen Spector, 2010, Local and Community Driven Development: Moving to Scale in Theory and Practice, Washington, D.C.: World Bank.

Mansuri, G. and V. Rao, 2013.  Localizing Development: Does Participation Work?
Wong, Susan, What Have Been the Impacts of World Bank Community-Driven Development Programs?, 2012. CDD Impact Evaluation Review and Operational and Research Implications, The Social Development Department, Sustainable Development Network, Washington, DC: World Bank.

Community-led Development: Key to Achieving the SDGs

On April 16, 2015, The Hunger Project organized a panel discussion as part of the World Bank/IMF Spring Meetings. In this critical year for finalizing the Sustainable Development Goals, five organizations came together to present broad perspectives and specific methods for empowering communities to take charge of their own development.


In part 1 – John Coonrod, executive vice president of The Hunger Project set the context of the discussion and introduced Mirza Jahani, CEO of the Aga Khan Foundation who presents a broad overview of the philosophy and approach, and its importance.


In part 2, Sarah Ford, Partnership and Capacity Strengthening Director, describes how the approach of Catholic Relief Services (CRS) emerges from Catholic Social Teaching.


In part 3, Emily Janoch, Knowledge and Learning Advisor, describes the methodologies utilized by CARE.


In part 4, Ritu Sharma, co-founder of Women Thrive World Wide and author of the book Teach a Woman to Fish.

What constitutes an enabling environment for the poor to succeed in their own development?

Working paper for a National Strategy Forum, April 1994, Dhaka, Bangladesh


The purpose of this paper is to provide a framework that will facilitate the participants in the upcoming strategic forum to identify new openings for action to provide an enabling environment for the poor. As will be shown below, the lack of a clear and shared understanding of what constitutes an enabling environment is a major obstacle to mobilizing concerted, strategic action to providing one.

We envision this forum to be the first step in an ongoing process. It will reveal openings for action that The Hunger Project and other organizations can take to provide an enabling environment. In addition, it has the potential to identify areas where the next breakthrough in thinking is required, thus pointing the way to the next strategic forum.


We would like to express our appreciation to all the individuals and organizations in Bangladesh whose dedicated work has demonstrated to the world the critical importance of providing an enabling environment for the poor. In particular, the preparations for this strategic forum has depended on the generous assistance of:

  • Mr. Fazle Abed, founder and director of BRAC, who first suggested this topic and who has advised on the format and design of this meeting;
  • Mr. Alex Counts, senior advisor in the international training division of the Grameen Bank, who wrote an initial overview analysis of the experience in Bangladesh in providing an enabling environment, and Prof. Muhammad Yunus for generously permitting Mr. Counts to assist us in this way;
  • Mr. Abdur Rab Chaudhury, MP, for his advice and willingness to facilitate the discussion;
  • Mr. Mahfuz Anam, editor of the Daily Star, whose recent round-table discussion on Pro-Poor Planning highlighted the importance of a breakthrough in thinking in how economic planners must think of the poor; and
  • The Asia Foundation, which has provided funding both for this meeting and for the follow-up actions that it inspires.

Section one: Setting the context

Empowering the poor — the key to a self-reliant future for Bangladesh

The concept of an “enabling environment” is new, and it reflects nothing less than a paradigm shift in thinking as to how nations like Bangladesh can achieve a new, self-reliant future — a future where all citizens have the chance to lead a healthy and productive life. This paradigm shift rests on two major recognitions.

First: People now recognize that the poor are the principal agents to improve the quality of their own lives.

No matter how successfully society allocates resources to help meet the needs of the poor, these are small compared to the resources that poor families will spend to meet their own needs. Therefore, to make any significant difference in the lives of the poor, public investments must “enable,” or leverage, the enormous investment the poor make in themselves.

Second: People are now beginning to recognize that enabling the poor to move out of poverty is the key to the nation’s economic development.

This represents a profound transformation in attitudes towards the poor and their role in the economy. The statement made by Mahfuz Anam at the recent round-table on “pro-poor” planning published in the Daily Star put it clearly:

“Recent examples, especially in the SAARC countries have shown that given the right type of environment in terms of credit, in terms of decision making, in terms of empowering the poor, it has been possible to prove that [the poor] are perhaps the most effective group to produce wealth…. it is perhaps the way that the poor has been looked at that is responsible for the continuation of poverty.”

Dr. Maqsood Ali underscored the new view that the poor are economic assets: “There must be a social mobilization of the poor which recognizes the intrinsic dynamism of the poor and goes straight to organizing the poor and releasing their dynamism, the hidden capability of capital accumulation potential which they have. The World Bank and IMF are saying that you have to raise growth in order to reduce poverty. Now we are saying you have to reduce poverty to raise the growth.”

This revolution in thinking comes at a propitious time — a time when Bangladesh is transforming its own structures and when international institutions are increasingly open to human-centered approaches to development.

Society’s institutions still, by and large, reflect the old paradigm. Transforming them to be useful to providing an enabling environment will require rigorous, systematic and scientific thinking and concerted, strategic action. It is the intention of this meeting to develop the framework of that thinking, and identify new openings for action.

Section two: Establishing key distinctions

It has been The Hunger Project’s experience that many meetings fail to generate any meaningful action because they fail to develop a set of sufficiently powerful distinctions. Too often, meetings about poverty alleviation produce only lists of problems, rationales, goals, targets, and opinions about service programs.

To actually make something happen, distinctions must be created that are powerful enough to cut through the unclarity, to get underneath the differences of opinion, to generate alignment on key principles and to reveal strategic openings for concerted action.

Therefore, establishing powerful distinctions for thinking rigorously about providing an enabling environment is a major objective of this meeting.

A. The Distinction “Enabling Environment” vs. “Service Delivery”

A service delivery system is the organized provision of critical services, such as healthcare, education and emergency relief to people who can benefit from those services.

Clearly, much important work is being, and must be done to improve the delivery of human services. However, this paper will NOT discuss service delivery issues. It will devote itself exclusively to the issue of creating an enabling environment.

Often these two distinctions are collapsed. When the distinctions are collapsed, the inquiry into these issues lacks the rigor, clarity, precision and discipline that would reveal pathways to effective action, and galvanize the will to take the action that is necessary.

Effective service delivery is critical, and particularly for governments. People create governments specifically to provide services that are best provided collectively rather than individually.

The notion of “enabling environment” however is new, and reflects the recognition that most human progress is not a function of service delivery, but rather of the creative and often organized efforts of people themselves.

The strategic thinking called forth when considering “enabling environment” and “service delivery” is completely different. One must consider different actors, different resources and different constraints.

In service delivery, the actors are the functionaries, the primary resources are the official budget and the pool of trained personnel, and key constraints are managerial factors: resource scarcity, planning, management and staff effectiveness.

In an enabling environment, the actors are the people themselves, and the primary resources are the talents, knowledge and resourcefulness of the people. Instead of considering what can be done “for” the poor, one must consider what can be done “by” the poor. In this way of thinking, the key constraints are social factors: unity, leadership, equity, public attitudes, and self-confidence.

Enabling Environment Service Delivery
Actors: People themselves Functionaries
Resources: Local incomes and material





Official budgets

Trained personnel


Constraints: Equity

Access to resources

Access to information



Social harmony

Self confidence

Resource scarcity



Staff effectiveness

When one confronts the challenges faced by Bangladesh, it is impossible to imagine meeting them with only the resources that can be channeled effectively through service delivery mechanisms. Only by unleashing the creativity, resourcefulness and determination of the entire population can the challenges be met and a sustainable future for Bangladesh assured.

The concept of enabling environment means restoring people to control over their own destiny, by putting them in control of the institutions and decision making processes that affect their own lives.

B. Definition of “Enabling Environment”

We will define “enabling environment” to consist of the attitudes, policies and practices which stimulate people to take action and enable them to succeed.

By that definition, we want to consider an enabling environment for the poor which consists of attitudes, policies and practices which stimulate the poor to take action for their own development, and enable them to have that action produce meaningful improvements in the quality of life.

For example:

  • the attitude concerning the economic value of girl children often determines whether poor girls receive education.
  • the policy of who hires and fires school teachers often shapes the degree to which local people can depend on that teacher to provide quality instruction.
  • the practices by which NGOs form local organizations can shape the degree of initiative and independence local people express in that organization.

C. What are Key Elements Within an Enabling Environment?

In analyzing what people need from their environment in order to succeed in their own actions, we can see at least four major elements:

AWARENESS: People must have a clear understanding of the issue and the possible solutions in order to take effective action.

ACCESS: Whatever training, information or resources people need to succeed in their own action must be physically available in the community, and unencumbered by social barriers that could stop people from having it.

AFFORDABILITY: In taking their own actions, the poor depend primarily on their own resources. Therefore, the poor must be able to afford what they need. To a family living in poverty, issues of price gouging, bribery and exploitation all have the same effect of preventing the family from affording what it needs.

ACCOUNTABILITY: While people themselves are the primary source of action, at some point they must trust and depend on others — teachers, health workers, well diggers and other functionaries. People must have ways to hold these functionaries to account.

D. What does this Inquiry Need to Produce?

The outcome of a strategic inquiry into an enabling environment does not need to produce a comprehensive or rank-ordered analysis. It does not need to produce a master plan or a comprehensive blueprint.

The experience in Bangladesh has proven to the world that people living in the conditions of poverty are so resilient, so creative and so determined that when they are offered ANY opportunity to improve their lives, they seize it.

Therefore, the goal of this exploration is to reveal openings for action that would result in any meaningful improvements in the environment that can provide additional empowerment of all the poor to improve their lives, and contribute to the nation.

As these openings are acted upon, further openings should appear on the pathway to providing an enabling environment.

E. In What Areas of Life is the Enabling Environment Crucial?

For those living in poverty, meeting basic human needs consumes most of one’s time, energy and resources. This inquiry will look into six key areas in the lives of the poor where an enabling environment would make a critical difference:

  • Ensuring the health of one’s family
  • Educating one’s children
  • Earning income
  • Drinking clean water and practicing good sanitation
  • Preserving the natural environment
  • Planning the size of one’s family

F. What Questions should Guide the Inquiry?

This paper will next take a look at the four elements of the enabling environment in each of the key sectors of the lives of the poor. At each point, we will address:

What’s so — what is the current situation — right now in the environment of the poor, given the progress to date and the challenges that the poor face, and

What’s missing which, if provided, would empower the poor to succeed in their own action.

We have found that rigorous clarity in addressing these two questions reveals openings for action.

G. What’s Next?

As we stated, we intend for this forum to be one step in a dynamic process. Following a detailed look in the next section of this paper into what’s so and what’s missing, we will develop a framework to seize the openings for action that get revealed, and to feed back the experience gained into the next inquiry.

Section 3: A detailed look into six key areas of life

A. Ensuring the Health of One’s Family

Bangladesh has pioneered breakthroughs in affordable and appropriate medications and in low-cost child-survival strategies. It has allocated huge sums of money to health care, yet child and maternal mortality and morbidity rates remain high. What is missing which, if provided, would enable the poor to ensure better health for their families?

AWARENESS: Many families currently do not know how to prevent and treat the most frequent and serious maladies that harm their health, such as diarrhea and acute respiratory infection. What is missing is a reliable, authoritative source of health information that reaches every family.

ACCESS: Families need access to affordable and appropriate medications, and to competent health workers. Enormous public investments have been made to train and provide health workers. It is likely that the major constraints to access now lie in a lack of accountability of those health workers to the local people.

AFFORDABILITY: Great strides have been made in making basic drugs affordable and available in the marketplace. One dangerous aspect of the present environment is that the freeing of markets makes it profitable to promote inappropriate drugs, eg: the promotion of expensive and dangerous anti-diarrheals in place of safe, low-cost oral rehydration solution. This trend must be countered both with more awareness and more local accountability.

ACCOUNTABILITY: At present, there are few, if any, existing mechanisms by which the poor can hold health services to account. What’s missing are strategies to strengthen the ability of the poor to gain accountability from local health services, perhaps through local committees, improved training of union councils and motivation of health workers.

B. Educating One’s Children

Education is a top priority in Bangladesh, and another area where breakthroughs have occurred in providing affordable, quality education. What is missing which, if provided, would enable poor families to provide their children with an education that is relevant to improving their lives?

AWARENESS: Given the tremendous promotion of education, families are now convinced that quality education will improve the lives of their children, at least for their boys and increasingly for their girls. Yet for most families, the quality of available education is poor and people are not aware of ways to improve it.

What is missing is the awareness and understanding as to how people can improve the quality of their local schools. If families were made aware of steps that could be taken to improve the quality of local schools, they would be more empowered to demand that they be taken.

ACCESS: Quality primary education is not currently available in most villages. The “technology” of providing quality non-formal primary education exists, as demonstrated by the BRAC schools, and is within the means and talents of every village. What is missing is the system of training and supervision that could enable every village to access this technology and establish such schools.

AFFORDABILITY: Bangladeshis demonstrate their determination to provide their children with education, even to the extent of spending enormous amounts of money on private tutors. While the poor cannot afford private tutors, they can afford the kind of quality nonformal primary education that has recently been developed. What is missing, therefore, is not the technology to make education affordable, but the structural changes that will give people the power and accountability to implement that which is affordable.

ACCOUNTABILITY: Currently, accountability for the quality of education lies with the delivery system providing it. What is missing is any systematic way for local people to directly exercise the responsibility for the quality of local education. This requires a structural shift towards stronger local government that works in partnership with parent committees. To truly be accountable for quality education, local bodies need ways to “grade” the performance of schools, and the authority to fire teachers who do not perform up to standard.

C. Earning Income

What is missing, which if provided, would empower poor families to securely earn incomes sufficient to meet their basic needs and contribute to national growth?

AWARENESS: As mentioned in the introduction, it is not the awareness among the poor that needs to be transformed, but the mindset of the elite. What is missing is a massive education campaign among the elite to transform their thinking about the poor and create the environment for pro-poor economic policies.

In the meantime, much has been done and can be done to directly empower poor families to raise their incomes. Progressive NGOs have pioneered ways to make the poor aware of new pathways to increased income through self-employment.

ACCESS: To raise their income, people need access to credit, productive resources, a marketable skill and a reliable market for their production. The experience of the Grameen Bank and other organizations have shown that even with one factor – credit – people are greatly empowered to better seize even the smallest market opportunities.

At present, credit, training and market support opportunities for the poor are primarily provided by NGOs, which are not accessible to every family. What is missing is either a way to expand the scale of these NGOs dramatically (and Bangladesh already is home to the largest NGOs in the world) or new strategies to make the techniques NGOs have pioneered accessible to any self-help association of the poor.

AFFORDABILITY: The greatest setback to income security for the poor comes because of financial setbacks such as illness, disaster, theft and wedding costs. What is missing are strategies to ensure that all the poor are able to provide their own first line of defense against setbacks through membership in self-help, risk-sharing groups.

As the second line of defense, the nation and the world community have shown resolve in working to prevent and prepare for larger setbacks such as natural disasters. Yet local people are not sufficiently empowered to do their own planning. It is local-level planning and action that can make the biggest difference the fastest when emergency strikes.

ACCOUNTABILITY: The transformation in thinking about the productivity of the poor will produce a new set of accountabilities. In the old paradigm, the poor are seen as a “burden” to the mainstream economy, and NGOs and other agencies are set up as an alternative to “service” the poor within economic environment that is not hospitable to the poor. In the new paradigm, those who make economic policy must be held to account by the self-organized economic activities of the poor. Larger alliances must be encouraged that give poor families a meaningful voice in economic policy decisions. Those committed to this shift in paradigms must find a way to hold themselves to account for causing it.

D. Drinking Clean Water and Practicing Good Sanitation

Water-borne disease continues to be the biggest killer of children. Major expenditures have provided a greater supply of clean water, but proper sanitation is far from being achieved. What is missing which, if provided, would enable poor families to ensure that they live in a hygienic environment?

AWARENESS: Most families know that they need clean drinking water, but many are not currently aware that clean water must be used for all personal uses (hand-washing, dish-washing, cooking). Many families do not understand the need for sanitation; there is a particularly dangerous notion that it is not important for children. What is missing is a far more rigorous and disciplined approach to empowering people with this information.

ACCESS: Significant progress, both in the public and private sector, has been to make tube wells and the equipment for sanitary latrines available. Where people lack access now, it appears to be most often the case that they lack the awareness or organized clout to access what is already there.

AFFORDABILITY: Affordability does not appear to be the major factor in enabling the poor to meet water and sanitation needs. Existing subsidy schemes and lowering costs in the private sector, have made clean drinking water and sanitation affordable.

ACCOUNTABILITY: One way to look at the challenge of village sanitation is to observe that no one is accountable for it. Awareness alone is not sufficient. In communities where sanitation is solved, it is always the case that strong penalties exist for violating sanitation standards. What is missing, beyond awareness, are strategies to create local accountability for sanitation, including the power to apply meaningful penalties.

E. Preserving the Natural Environment

No one has a greater stake in environmental preservation than do the poor. No one’s livelihood is more closely tied to the health and sustainability of the natural environment than is that of poor families. Among nations, Bangladesh is perhaps most aware of its environmental limits. What is missing, which if provided, would enable poor families to restore and preserve their natural environment?

AWARENESS: Just as with income, there must be a transformation in public attitude from seeing the poor as a “danger” to the environment to seeing the poor as the most committed and able to restore and preserve the environment. It has now been proven time and again that it is the practices of the rich that are the most environmentally damaging, while the more traditional lifestyles of the poor often reflect thousands of years of wisdom in the preservation of the environment.

What is missing is the same campaign as with income — a campaign to transform the thinking of those who shape policies, from seeing the poor as a burden to seeing them as the principal actors to ensure a productive, sustainable future for Bangladesh.

In addition, at the family level, there are new technologies and approaches which would empower poor families to make even better use of their resources, such as improved stoves, bio-gas and intensive organic farming techniques. As is the case in other sectors, what is missing are the channels of information that will reach every family.

ACCESS: In recent history, the poor of the world have been pushed increasingly to marginal and fragile areas of the environment, and have lost traditional rights as the protectors and preservers of forests, fields and water resources. Anti-poor attitudes, conventional practices and policies of modern economic development have reduced access to natural resources by the poor. What is missing are a new set of policies and practices that recognize the poor as environmental protectors (rather than the “threat”) and that restore traditional rights and improve access to resources.

AFFORDABILITY: The conventional approach to economic planning does not factor in the projected cost of continued environmental destruction, and certainly does not account for the lost productivity of the poor as the resource base erodes. The falseness of the delusion that we can “afford” environmental destruction is perhaps most revealed in Bangladesh.

What is missing is a “pro-poor, pro-environment” approach to planning that will redirect budget resources in ways which empower, and even employ, the poor to restore and preserve the environment.

ACCOUNTABILITY: Several NGOs in Bangladesh have pioneered approaches to place accountability – and the economic benefits – for environmental preservation back into the hands of the people with the greatest stake in the matter – the poor.

F. Planning the Size of One’s Family

Bangladesh has recently received international acclaim for reducing total fertility rates even among the poorest people. What is missing, which if provided, would enable poor families to limit their family size to that which is consistent with good health and a sustainable future?

AWARENESS: Progress is being made with awareness: an estimated 70 percent of Bangladeshi women would like to avail themselves of family planning, and about 40 percent of them do. What is missing that would fill the gaps?

  • The awareness component of the “gap” between 70 and 40 percent may be primarily due to attitudes of husbands.
  • The awareness component of the “gap” between 70 and 100 percent can perhaps best be addressed through expanding general female education.

Further analysis is needed of what messages, if in the environment, will close the remaining gaps the quickest.

ACCESS: Another component of the gap between the 70 percent demand and 40 percent usage is simple availability. Initiatives are underway to create “depots” of contraceptives at the village and deliver them door-to-door. Strategies to accelerate and universalize these approaches are currently missing.

AFFORDABILITY: Given the current high-degree of subsidy, affordability does not seem to be a current or prospective issue.

ACCOUNTABILITY: The family planning institutions in Bangladesh are large and well-funded. No institution, however, is large enough to “deliver” family planning services to every household. What is missing is that these institutions do not yet hold themselves responsible for creating an enabling environment in every village.

Section four: What’s next

Fomenting a process of inquiry and action

The intention of this forum is to make a difference for the future of Bangladesh. The high quality and broad range of experience of the leaders participating in this strategic forum should permit it to alter the perspective of all of us. It should allow the distinction of enabling environment to be drawn with such clarity and power that new possibilities continue to be revealed within each participant’s own work.

Following the meeting, The Hunger Project will take the insights gained and work in partnership with government and other NGOs to launch initiatives at the district level to provide what’s missing. We certainly hope other organizations will do the same.

The actions taken out of this meeting will not only contribute to creating an enabling environment; they will also reveal the next areas where a breakthrough is required. For example, the actions that can be taken by existing institutions will likely be insufficient to provide the enabling environment that the poor of Bangladesh need and deserve. Most institutions in society were not designed to provide an enabling environment. In fact, they were designed consistent with an earlier paradigm that does NOT see the poor as “able” and their functioning reinforces the old paradigm.

Structural transformation, therefore, will undoubtedly be required. The individuals who are committed to providing an enabling environment will either have to create new institutions, or transform the ones they are in.

Transformation cannot be accomplished by “outsiders” – it can only be accomplished by those who are directly involved in the action. Therefore, the experience gained in the months following this meeting should lead to participatory forums among those who are committed to bringing about the next level of transformation in specific sectors of society. For example:

MEDIA: The media establishment is currently best suited to bring awareness to the elite of society, and certainly the above discussion calls for significant changes in the thinking of the elite. One next step could be a forum to produce coordinated strategies among progressive NGOs and the media to achieve this transformation in thinking.

MEDIA FOR THE POOR: The above discussion highlights the need for expanded information flows to the majority of Bangladeshi citizens. Perhaps there is even a “market” for this information — the poor have shown great willingness to spend money on education and information that is relevant to their lives.

A next step could be a strategic forum to create an entirely new media “for the poor” to provide them with empowering information, and to help transform destructive attitudes towards family planning, dowry, child marriage, sanitation, appropriate technology and violence against women (to name a few).

GOVERNMENT: The “enabling environment” of the future demands far more local (versus top-down) accountability within the administrative services. Bangladeshis are exploring ways to strengthen local government and initiate bottom-up approaches to planning. Perhaps multi-sectoral forums are required to cause these changes.

POLITICS: The eminent economist Prof. Amartya Sen and others have pointed out how democracy serves the cause of human development. At some point, those who are involved with empowering the poor and those involved in the political process could come together to devise strategies to put “empowerment of the poor” onto the political agenda.

BILATERAL AND MULTILATERAL ORGANIZATIONS: International and foreign government agencies play an important role in Bangladesh’s service delivery systems. They need to ensure that their activities contribute to an enabling environment.

Individuals in these organizations may wish to sit down with local organizations to ensure that programs strengthen local institutions, rather than simply replace them with new, costly service delivery systems. New ways must be created to shift the resources of international organizations from funding expensive expatriate experts and contractors, and increasingly build capacities run and managed by Bangladeshis.

NGOS: Bangladeshi NGOs have pioneered service delivery and local empowerment mechanisms which are being emulated around the world. At the same time, NGOs must continue to identify and alter practices which work against an enabling environment for the poor to take charge of their own local associations.

PRIVATE SECTOR: Bangladesh is rapidly developing its industrial sector, yet this growth has not been infused with a pro-poor strategy. To do so, industrialists and those who work with the poor may need to create strategy forums among people with the experience and clout to transform the input-side of industries. For example, initiatives can be taken in the garment industry that would greatly expand opportunities for the poor while increasing the value-added component of the Bangladesh economy.


The people and institutions of Bangladesh have shown extraordinary resilience and ingenuity, particularly in recent years. Bangladesh has pioneered important breakthroughs in human development, and is now spearheading the creation of an enabling environment for the poor to succeed in their own development.

As this enabling environment emerges, it will unleash the productivity and potential of tens of millions of people, whose energies will create a new future for Bangladesh.

The Hunger Project, in Bangladesh and around the world, is honored to be the committed partner of the Bangladeshi people in calling forth the breakthroughs that will create a sustainable future for Bangladesh, and for all humanity.

The Hunger Project is not a relief or development organization, but rather a strategic organization committed to the sustainable end of world hunger. It is guided by the mandate to identify what is missing in the human component of ending hunger, and to launch initiatives to provide it.

The common element in many consultations with Bangladesh’s development experts, is that what is missing is an enabling environment for the poor to succeed in their own development. Bangladesh has pioneered many of the elements which now go into the concept of “enabling environment”, but what is missing is a clear, rigorous and widely-shared understanding of this concept that can shape the direction and programs of the institutions of society.



  • Dr. Abdul Moyeen Khan, Minister of Planning
  • Dr. Sheikh Maqsood Ali, Convenor, Taskforce on Poverty Alleviation
  • Mr. S.M. Al-Husainy, Chairman, Swanirvar Bangladesh
  • Mr. Sultan-uz Zaman Khan, Chairman, Securities and Exchange Commission
  • Dr. Fariduddin, Secretary of Social Welfare


  • Dr. Shamsher Ali, Vice Chancellor, Bangladesh Open University
  • Prof. Shamsul Haq, National Professor
  • Mrs. Hasna Moudud, environment
  • Dr. S.A.L. Reza, Director General, BIDS

Members of Parliament

  • Mr. Abdur Rab Chaudhury (BNP), will moderate forum
  • Mr. Abul Hasan Chowdhury, Son of the first President (AL)
  • Mr. Fazle Rabbi Chowdhury (JP)
  • Mr. L.K Siddiqui, Vice chairman of party (BNP)


  • Mr. Mahfuz Anam, Editor, Daily Star
  • Mr. Gias Kamal Chowdhury, Chief Correspondent, BSS


  • Mr. Fazle Abed, Founder and Executive Director, BRAC
  • Dr. Qazi Faruque Ahmed, Executive Director, PROSHIKA
  • Dr. (Mrs.) Fatema Alauddin, Family Research and Development
  • Ms. Angela Gomez, Nijera Shekhi
  • Mr. Nazrul Islam, Palli Karma Sahayak Foundation
  • Prof. Muhammad Yunus, Managing Director, Grameen Bank


  • Mr. Kafiluddin Mahmood, United Leasing
  • Mr. Salman F. Rahman, Beximco Group of Industries
  • Donor/International Agencies
  • Mr. Nick Langton, Representative, Asia Foundation
  • Mr. Manzoor Ul Karim, Unicef
  • Mr. Karl Schwartz, USAID

Members of the Global Board of Directors of The Hunger Project

  • Ms. Joan Holmes, President
  • Mr. Robert Chester, Chairman
  • Dr. Peter G. Bourne, President, Global Water
  • Mr. Ramkrishna Bajaj, Head, Bajaj Group of Industries
  • Dr. Ebrahim Samba, Director, WHO Onchocerciasis Control Program
  • Dr. M.S. Swaminathan, Chairman, M.S. Swaminathan Research Foundation