Citizens’ Charter

Recording and notes from today’s global call of the Movement for Community-led Development featuring the Citizens’ Charter National Priority Program of Afghanistan, and government-implemented CLD programs in Indonesia and Uzbekistan.


  • Mr. Mujeeb Habib, Head of Capacity Development, Ministry of Rural Rehabilitation and Development, Afghanistan
  • Ms. Nani Zulminarni, Founder and Director, Pekka (Female Headed Household Empowerment Program), Indonesia
  • Ms. Rano Tlepovoa, Social Development Specialist, World Bank Country Office in Uzbekistan


  • Brigitta Bode, Social and Participatory Development Advisor, ISE
  • Rasoul Rasouli, CDD Operations Advisor, ISE and former Director-General of the Citizens’ Charter program in Afghanistan
  • Nelly Mecklenburg, Senior Program Officer, ISE

Inclusive, pro-poor government programming: Lessons from implementing CLD at the national level in three countries

This month’s call saw government, World Bank and NGO representatives share lessons from implementing national level Community Driven Development programs across three countries: Afghanistan, Indonesia and Uzbekistan. 


Communities take charge of their own Development  

Community-driven, or community-led, development is “a development approach that enables communities to identify, prioritize, and implement their development needs and manage resources by themselves,” explained Mr. Rasouli. In such programs, citizens are key assets and stakeholders within the communities, making development more inclusive and cost-effective than top-down programs. In CDD/CLD, people monitor and maintain development projects themselves, fostering “demand-driven approaches” with a strong sense of ownership among communities. Multilateral organizations, such as the World Bank, are increasingly utilizing the platform of CDD/CLD programs to deliver key services to people around the world. Consequently, the CDD/CLD approach also contributes to improved governance with engaged citizens deliberating about and maintaining projects.

As part of an introduction of The Citizens’ Charter National Priority Program in Afghanistan, Mr. Rasouli outlined how the processes of community-driven development strive to take soft components to a transformative scale by applying resources towards community mobilization and capacity building. As COVID-19 stretches the limits of government services in Afghanistan, the Citizens’ Charter is playing a key role in providing critical services to citizens and responding to humanitarian needs. Mr. Rasouli emphasized the implementation and monitoring processes that community members partake in, especially because CDD and CLD encourage “programmatic, bottom-up and inclusive development approaches through increased community participation.” Rural communities gain the opportunity to strive for self-reliance as they take ownership of their own development. The Citizens’ Charter National Priority Program is one example of CLD implementation at the national level. 

Lessons from Afghanistan: People are Assets

Started in 2017, the Citizens’ Charter National Priority Program (CCNPP) in Afghanistan has reached 12,213 communities and is a cross-ministerial program, including line ministries such as the Ministries of Education, Public Health, and Rural Rehabilitation and Development. The Citizens’ Charter has the capacity to disperse $300 million USD per year in grants to communities in 123 districts across every province – one-third of the entire country. Citizens’ Charter programs are chosen and maintained by locally-elected Community Development Councils (CDCs), made up of members from the community. 

Mr. Habib described the first phase of three-phases that the Citizens’ Charter program has planned. In this phase, nine participatory learning and action (PLA) tools including resource maps, women’s mobility maps, and gap analysis are used to understand existing gaps in the community’s health, education, and infrastructure. In social mapping exercises, community members physically map the neighborhoods in their village to determine election units, making sure there are representatives from each neighborhood on the CDC. Women’s participation in CDCs is around 50% and is intentionally brought into the decision-making processes for development projects and PLA tools. 

Not only do these PLA tools allow for an analysis of a community’s assets, but also improve the inclusion of marginalized groups and help prevent elite capture, where more well-off members of the community reap most of the benefits of development projects. To ensure these exercises reflect the whole community, 60% of community members must be present during participatory processes. To collaborate with governments and ensure that community members are treated as productive partners in programming and decision-making, CCNPP has created a policy to coordinate with district governments and delegate projects; this policy creates partnerships to ensure sustainability. 

The Citizens’ Charter maintains minimum service standards (MSS) across all their communities, including access to clean drinking water and a menu of rural infrastructure projects (roads, electricity, irrigation, etc.). Additionally, the Citizens’ Charter maintains specific health and education standards for the community, such as mandated clinic hours and staff capacity and a minimum level of training for teachers, which are overseen by their respective line ministries.

In its design, the Citizens’ Charter is intentionally structured to link wider sub-national governance systems and policies. To prevent overlapping systems, CDCs are utilized as a gateway to governance interventions for the community, with clear roles and responsibilities for engagement with district and provincial governors. The program also hosts grievance redressal mechanisms to ensure monitoring from the community is acted upon by the government. Through these mechanisms, the Citizens’ Charter seeks to act as a sustainable and effective program into the future, which has clear linkages and roles within formal government structures.  

The Indonesia Story: Focus on Making Women Visible

Pekka, the Female-Headed Household Empowerment Program, has reached almost 70,000 people across 87 districts of Indonesia. Ms. Zulminarni explained how Pekka emerged to change how women are viewed within Indonesian communities and heighten support for widows. It originated in 2001 to both better support widows, particularly in conflict areas such as Aceh, who were demanding access to resources, and in response to identified gaps in the government’s World Bank-funded Kecamatan Development Program (KDP) CDD program, which was not reaching “the poorest of the poor.” 

Ms. Zulimanarni described the program as a unique paradigm. On one hand, Pekka is a traditional development program that seeks to provide greater access to money and other resources to impoverished communities, while on the other hand, seeks to directly address the power relations between men and women within their communities and fight the traditional stigmatization of widows. Prior to releasing direct cash transfer as part of the KDP program, Pekka organizes women in the community to discuss how they can address the problems of corruption in gaining access to the money, where widows have historically been forced to pay “taxes” to receive the grants. 

Pekka has continued to focus on the visibility of women-headed families, aiming to fill gaps that governments have left first in KDP, then its successor program PNPM, and now in the Village Law program. It focuses on access to resources and access to justice, particularly on issues regarding legal identity. Through the association of women-headed families, Pekka also builds women’s grassroots capacity by training women to be facilitators and community organizers in their own villages, actively engaging with public decision making.

Ms. Zulminarni emphasized that the empowerment program was, and continues to be, intended to “reach the most marginalized and vulnerable groups.” 

Uzbekistan: Starting New Projects for Poverty Reduction

Ms. Tlepova talked about Uzbekistan’s recent effort to empower citizens through the Obod Qishloq State Program (Prosperous Villages). This program is Uzbekistan’s first-ever CDD program, launched in 2018, with the goal of establishing a presence in over 300 villages in five regions of the country

CDD in Conflict Areas

Mr. Rasouli outlined previous experience from the National Solidarity Program (2003-2016), the precursor to the Citizens’ Charter, wherein community members showed the ability to negotiate for their program even in conflict.

We concluded this month’s call with a reminder of the power of investing in people. 

Slide Decks from this gathering! Click on the >> icon to enlarge or download.

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