Community-Driven Rural Development: What Have We Learned?

Oct 2003
The purpose of this paper is to identify best practices in the design and implementation of community-driven rural development (CDRD) projects in Central America with special emphasis on Nicaragua. The methodology used in this study is two-fold. First, a literature review of the academic literature (chapter 2) and donor agency project documents and consultant reports (chapter 3) for Central America was conducted to understand key advances in the field and to derive a set of common findings. Second, field inter-views with key stakeholders and focus group interviews (about 30) were held in Nicaragua, covering four different rural community development projects. The selection of communities to be interviewed (chapter 4) was done in a manner that permitted obtaining a nonrandom, but stratified sample in terms of geography (Pacific coastal plain, Central highlands, and Atlantic humid tropical forest) and type of sectoral intervention (a project that emphasized building productive agricultural activities; a project that emphasized improved on-farm natural resource management; and a project that emphasized construction of road and wharves). Findings from the review informed the fieldwork. Chapter 5 presents summary lessons learned from the field, while chapter 6 offers recommendations to improve new project design and implementation.