An experimental evaluation of Community Driven Reconstruction in northern Liberia: Follow up data entry and analysis

Bilateral and multilateral aid donors spend considerable sums on “Community Driven Development” or “Community Driven Reconstruction”, a programming method whereby affected communities make their own decisions about how project money will be spent. Such projects normally begin with an institution-building phase in which the donor agency works with communities to hold elections to local development committees, which then follow a deliberative and consultative process to choose, design, implement, and maintain development projects paid for with aid funds. CDR is applied where communities have been divided by conflict, and the community method can help facilitate reconciliation and reintegration of community members, ex-combatants, internally displaced and other conflict participants or victims. While there have been evaluations of both approaches, questions about overall efficacy remain. This IGC project, a randomized field experiment, is one of the first attempts to evaluate CDR programming through complete data collection and analysis in 42 candidate communities in Liberia. Through baseline attitudinal surveys, real-life public goods games and interviews, we asked whether CDD and CDR changed the willingness or ability of communities to contribute to a ‘public good’ (i.e. donations for public works). Somewhat to our surprise, they did. A series of surveys and interviews provide additional measures to help us assess whether the IRC CDR project produced systematically greater accountability and implementation of a public goods project in the treated communities. This is especially interesting, as it would be helpful to estimate whether and to what extent the IRC effects persist over time after the end of the IRC project in February/March 2008. That is, we would like more information about whether the effects observed in the summer of 2008 seem to persist 5 to 6 months later. IGC funding for this project will support data preparation and analysis of the surveys carried out in November and December 2008, asking about whether and how the communities followed up on the projects they proposed and received funding for in the summer of 2008. These data can provide a valuable addition to our assessment of whether the program had real effects on the ability of communities to produce public goods.