Recognizing Communities: Local Level Responses to the Pathfinders Grand Challenges

Publication: Report

Communities are not homogenous. Within a single community, there are often divisions along class, ethnic, and gender lines. Further, not all communities are the same. Dynamics from one community to the next can widely differ, including power relations, land allocations, gender dynamics, mobility, and the level of government influence. James Scott, in Seeing Like A State, showed how much of the vocabulary of state administration carries with it the mechanisms to disempower local authority and invest it in state agents who can then wield state authority.

Rebalancing this relationship requires finding ways to overcome the monopolies over information, decision-making, and convening power that state agents have, particularly in systems that emerged from an extractive colonial context. Ignoring these dynamics when designing a CDD project will most likely result in elite capture, and possibly lead to local conflict, increased inequality, and erode trust between citizens and the state.

Kitchen Gardening in the Dara-e-Noor district, Nangarhar province, as part of the NHLP (National Horticulture and Livestock Project) (World Bank/CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

This research paper argues the importance of the role of the community within the Pathfinders for Peaceful, Just and Inclusive Societies discussion over inequality. The paper’s case studies are based largely on government-led community-driven development (CDD) programs that aim to ensure recognition of the complicated dynamics within the community itself. Unless the heterogeneity of communities is considered and fostered through an inclusive design and facilitation process, no program or project can hope to impact inclusion, empowerment, and the citizen-state relationship. A deep understanding of community dynamics and good facilitation are prerequisites for any CDD model to have a positive social impact.

Recognizing Communities uses the following themes as a framework for the discussion on the importance of community recognition:

  1. Fostering voice, agency, and inclusion of the poor and vulnerable
  2. Supporting the transformation of citizen-state relations
  3. Social capital in Fragile and Conflict-Affected States

Download the full research paper here.

This research paper is part of the Pathfinders Grand Challenge on Inequality & Exclusion. More information about this initiative can be found here.

More Resources

  • Publication: Analysis May 17, 2023 CIC Perspectives

    Managing Opportunities, Challenges, and Expectations for the New Agenda for Peace

    Ahead of the policy brief expected from the UN Secretariat in June 2023, this piece provides a historical glance at past UN reforms, identifies the primary challenges and opportunities the UN and its member states face as they undergo this process, and looks forward to the key priorities that can be taken up from a realistic and practical perspective. Highlighted is how the New Agenda for Peace “provides a rare opportunity for the United Nations to examine and reflect upon the totality of the peace and security work of the Organization to uncover and better understand the synergies and contradictions of the existing processes and structures.”

  • Publication: Policy Brief April 24, 2023

    Does the Present Interpretation of the UN Principles Cause Harm in Syria and Yemen?

    This policy brief takes a comparative examination of how the United Nations has adopted a paradoxical interpretation of its guiding principles to address the complex humanitarian crises in Syria and Yemen. It offers approaches that could change the course of international humanitarian operations and protect them from further politicization, weaponization, and diversion.

Stay Connected

Join our mailing list to receive regular updates on our latest events, analysis, and resources.

This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.