Involving Indigenous People (IPs) and Ethnic Minorities in Community-Driven Development (CDD) Projects

    a-member-of-the-tariana-tribe-in-the-amazon-region-of-brazil_2367326208_o.jpgPosted on 12/21/2015



    • Some key challenges facing CDD programs are remoteness and inaccessibility, negative social perceptions of IPs, and heterogeneity and diversity of communities.
    • Social analyses, including social assessments, mapping, and socio-economic and conflict diagnoses were critical during project preparation to understand IP needs.


    • Projects should work with government agencies to promote social inclusion with cultural respect to help protect the unique cultural identities of IPs.

    View the seminar recording here, starting around 45:45.


    Indigenous peoples, numbering more than 350 million worldwide, are among the most disadvantaged populations, representing roughly 4.5 percent of the global population but more than 10 percent of the poor. This disparity is even worse in many countries. In Vietnam, for example, indigenous peoples and ethnic minorities account for 14 percent of the population but comprise 60 percent of the total poor. CDD programs are generally used to target the poorest and most marginalized populations, including indigenous peoples and ethnic minorities.


    On December 17, the CDD Global Solutions Group brought together four project leaders to discuss their experiences in targeting and including IPs and ethnic minorities in CDD projects in Africa, East Asia, South Asia, and Latin America.

    Ede Jorge Ijjasz-Vasquez, Senior Director, GSURR, opened the seminar by stressing the importance of targeting IPs and ethnic minorities in achieving the World Bank’s twin goals.

    All the way from indigenous communities in Latin America to ethnic minorities in East Asia to the Roma in Europe—there are communities that are left behind,” he said. “If we’re really going to achieve the goal of eliminating extreme poverty by 2030, we must start working today with these communities and figure out ways that are appropriate for their development.

    Maninder Gill, Director of Social Development, GSURR, urged participants to apply lessons learned from the discussion to promote inclusion more broadly for other vulnerable groups, such as the disabled or sexual minorities.

    When you put a disabled member of the community on the CDD committee, it’s a huge signal and hugely empowering for them,” he said. “As you discuss the issue of reaching this very important segment of the population, also reflect on how we can use similar approaches and techniques to reach a wide range of other routinely excluded vulnerables to help us achieve our twin goals.”

    Staff from the four projects then presented on concrete operational issues and challenges faced in their project’s design and implementation:

    Vietnam Northern Mountains Poverty Reduction Project / Vietnam Central Highlands Poverty Reduction Project

    • Son Thanh Vo, Senior Rural Development Specialist, GFADR, Vietnam
    • Lan Thi Thu Nguyen, Senior Environmental Economist, GENDR, Vietnam


    Nepal Poverty Alleviation Fund

    • Mio Takada, Rural Development Specialist, GFADR


    South Sudan Local Government and Service Delivery Project

    • Vara Vemuru, Senior Social Development Specialist, GSURR


    Bolivia Community Investment in Rural Areas Project (PICAR)

    • Miki Terasawa, Social Development Specialist, GSURR


    Luis Felipe Duchicela, Senior Social Development Specialist and IP Adviser, GSURR, highlighted sustainability and respect for community rights and cultural identity as key concerns for CDD programs working with IPs. He suggested five principles for effective programming for IPs—promoting IP participation in project planning and execution; strengthening IP organization governance; maintaining awareness of community rights to land and natural resources; educating and involving the government at all levels; and strengthening sustainable livelihoods by linking IPs to larger value chains and private sector partnerships.


    Common Challenges

    The projects struggle with a variety of challenges, many of them similar. For example, Vietnam faces challenges of remoteness and inaccessibility of villages, negative stereotyping and misconception of IPs, and diversity of ethnic groups. In Nepal and South Sudan, besides social exclusion of IPs, the large numbers of ethnic groups—each with their own language—complicates project implementation. In Bolivia, project staff must navigate tensions between migrant and indigenous populations, who have different cultural practices and livelihoods.


    Social Analyses

    The projects also heavily focused on social analyses, including social assessments, mapping, and socio-economic and conflict diagnoses. In South Sudan, the project mapped social groups to identify especially vulnerable populations, conducted localized conflict analyses on possible flash points that could endanger the project, and prioritized investment types and locations using data and maps to better address conflict. In Nepal, the project conducted district-level socio-economic assessments, examined gender, caste, and ethnic exclusion, and developed a Vulnerable Community Development Plan to incorporate issues and concerns of indigenous peoples and other vulnerable groups.



    The projects bolstered sustainability through building community and government capacity. In Bolivia, the project builds local capacity by engaging local NGOs and the private sector as facilitators and implementers and by providing them with community mobilization and implementation manuals. In South Sudan, a village facilitator is trained during the project phase; as a local, they remain with community after the project ends. South Sudan government county-level planning staff also work with community partners during project implementation and eventually take on responsibility for the planning process.


    Cultural Identity and Respect

    Discussants also highlighted the inadvertent effects of social assimilation on IPs. To mitigate these impacts, discussants suggested that projects should work with government agencies to respect cultural differences and protect the unique cultural identities of IPs.


    This seminar was organized by the CDD GSG, which offers support and resources to the community of CDD practitioners. To learn more or join the CDD GSG, please contact us at