The USAID Promoting Resilience through Ongoing Participatory Engagement and Learning (PROPEL) program was designed to foster social cohesion and resilience in targeted communities in Jonglei, Lakes, and Eastern and Central Equatoria states in South Sudan through a Community-Driven Development (CDD) approach. PROPEL provided material improvements in the lives of community members and at the same time strengthened the communities’ capacity to drive their own development through harnessing their own resources, leveraging other donor-funded programs, and advocating for additional support to implement projects that address priority needs.
The purpose of this document is to share findings that informed a unified CDD methodology for USAID implementing partners in South Sudan (see PROPEL’s CDD Methodology for South Sudan1 ). This end-line report presents PROPEL’s social capital outcomes assessed through a baseline-to-end-line comparison of quantitative and qualitative results. It also addresses six learning questions designed to test PROPEL’s development hypothesis, and provide evidence-based recommendations for CDD implementation in varied contexts in South Sudan, also relevant for humanitarian and development interventions.
CDD is important in a conflict-affected context because it builds on existing forms of social capital to address challenges and strengthen leadership to effectively resolve localized conflict. CDD enhances a community’s capacity to mitigate and resolve conflict, primarily through the following processes:
Community-led prioritization of conflict-triggers in project selection (i.e. access to water);
Conflict-sensitive project implementation (i.e. transparent selection of cash-for-work beneficiaries, including members of different sub-clans in the same cash-for-work projects);
Conflict-mitigation through sustainability mechanisms (i.e. Water User Committees trained on inclusive mechanisms for adapting bylaws in response to influxes of Internally Displaced Persons).
PROPEL began in September 2015 and ended in January 2018, with a total budget size of $13 million.
Implemented by Global Communities and Catholic Relief Services (CRS), the program’s primary objective was to foster social cohesion and capacity for collective action across internal community divides using a CDD approach to address pressing community needs. Led by representative, communityselected committees called Community Enhancement Teams (CETs), and following intensive community-wide deliberations to determine and prioritize needs (notably access to basic services such as clean water, functioning primary schools and roads), each PROPEL community selected projects for implementation. PROPEL administered a complementary peacebuilding fund, awarding small grants to local Civil Society Organizations to implement timely activities in PROPEL target communities to promote peace, address conflict triggers, and strengthen local capacity for conflict-resolution.
PROPEL’s cumulative project impact and results include: 48,102 persons received tangible benefits through improved access to basic services; 124 activities were designed and implemented to promote or strengthen the civic participation of women; of the active participants in community project prioritization 76% represented marginalized groups; 64% of CET members in all targeted communities represented marginalized groups; and 1,309 CET members and PROPEL stakeholders were trained in PACE participatory and inclusive community-driven development processes, including various project sustainability processes. PROPEL achievements included assisting 13 target communities in Awerial, Bor, Duk, Juba and Magwi counties to identify, prioritize and develop CDD projects designed to improve community resilience; completing 34 CDD projects; and completing two conflict mitigation and peacebuilding activities in Awerial and Juba.
Due to insecurity and changes in the national situation over the life of the project, PROPEL’s approach to Collaborating, Learning and Adapting (CLA) was predominantly informed by lessons learned and end-line data collection in eight of the original 16 target communities—in Awerial, Bor and two neighborhoods in Juba. PROPEL contributed to statistically significant increases on three key indicators of community resilience in agro-pastoralist communities, and communities with IDP settlements (six total in Awerial and Bor): levels of participation in community projects (3% increase), capacity to deal constructively with shared challenges (8% increase), and participation in decision-making and accountability mechanisms (7% increase).2 PROPEL also contributed to statistically significant increases on capacity for conflict resolution in Awerial and Bor, both internal (6% increase) and external (11% increase).