Social development approaches

Publié le par


Monsieur Abdrahamane F. BAGAYOKO

Consultant en Management du Développement Social



   1st part: Overview on the (five) approaches

        I- The meaning and the content  

                  1-The territorial approach

                  2-The Participatory Approach

                  3-The Gender approach

                 4-The environmental approach

                 5-The Partnership approach

       II- The objectives, the importance and the challenges

            1 - The objectives and importance

     2- The challenges and the needed conditions for their success

 2nd part: The integration of the five approaches into Social development projects

        I- The analysis of tools (of each approach)

       II- The effective consideration of the said approaches in the life cycle of a project: (An example: a literacy project)


The social development, a component of sustainable development, aims at improving the human well-being in the society. This is achieved through the improvement of three main areas: education, health and employment.
Social development means that we must invest in people. It is necessary to remove barriers keeping citizens from living in decent living conditions.

Social development enables people to progress towards self-sufficiency.

An approach is a set of steps, a way of leading something according to some principles and some set orders.

The choice of this theme is not useless; on the contrary, it has much importance for future social development agents we are. The goal is to familiarize ourselves with the terminologies of these approaches in English.

In fact, the Social development approaches which are subject of this presentation are so numerous, but we are going to study five of them (mostly used), as below-mentioned:

     - The territorial approach

     - The Participatory approach

     - The Gender approach

     - The environmental approach

     - The Partnership approach

What can we hear from these approaches?

How can they be integrated into social projects?

The response to these questions brings us in a first part, to do an overview on the five approaches, and a second and last part will be devoted to the ways they are integrated into the social development projects ‘design.

First part: Overview on the five approaches: 

 All of the five approaches are complementary and must be used as a whole because interdependent. Also they are in most of cases relatively recent (contemporary approaches) and they oppose the classical ones.

I- The meaning and the content:

1-Territorial approach:

This means that any social development initiative is designed on a precise space called “TERRITORY” (otherwise based on a limited territory), taking into account its particularities, its potentials, assets, strengths and weaknesses in term of geographical position, economic and social dynamic, cultural and ethnic characteristics.

2- The participatory approach:

It results from the idea to make participate the target and beneficiary populations. It can be defined as a social process that is to restore the people's power of initiative and decision in the definition and implementation of actions concerning their own future. This means that external decision makers recognize the representatives of the population as active elements of social change. Hence the necessity to involve them within the framework of partnership relation.

3- The gender Approach:

 The Gender referring to the social, economic, and cultural roles of men and women, as well as relations between them, takes into account the specific responsibilities of men and women in a culture or in different population groups (seniors, ethnic groups, etc.)

 Its approach consists in systematically taking into account the differences in term of conditions, situations, capabilities and needs of women and men in all development policies and actions in order to set up a new equitable partnership between women and men, respecting the right and ensuring their equal, full and complete participation at all levels. The final goal is to come to an equitable development and their empowerment.

4- The environmental approach: 

  - Facing the challenges of sustainable development, the choice of social development initiatives must be based on the following compromises:
- In a project design, take into account the climate (sunshine, wind, and rainfalls), the waterways...

- take into account the real impact of equipment and facilities on the environment (natural resources, watershed, biodiversity…), during their choice and installations.

5- The Partnership approach:

    It consists of the putting in synergy (networking) of a mosaic of actors (civil society, local authorities, central departments, international NGOs…) gathering them around a sole vision.

    It is based on the principle of trust, sharing of knowledge and the complementarities of skills.

II- The objectives, the importance and the challenges:

1 - The objectives and the importance:

  Among their objectives, they aim at:

      - Adjusting the mistakes of the classical projects

      - Repairing the damages of the SAP (structural adjustment program)

      - Capacity building

      - Establishing equity, equality

      - Empowering women

      - Fighting against social exclusion

      - More improving living conditions and standard of living

      - improving the ability of everyone to take full control of his individual and collective destiny

      - Preserving the ecological equilibrium

      - Gaining the parity M / W in the development process and reducing the Poverty among Women
     - The full participation of women at all stages and at all areas of the development process to achieve gender equality

Among their importance:

  - In response to the question “why these approaches?” we say that the experiences of the past have proved that human development can not be achieved without the participation of men and women

  - Indeed, the participatory approach guarantees accountability and awareness of people
     - As far as civil society is concerned, it considers these approaches as a crucial lever for strengthening local and participatory democracy, decentralization and good governance at local and national levels,  making easy the access of all to the basic social services.

2- The challenges and the needed conditions for their success:

     - The political will: law makers, decision makers, local authorities

     - Sensitization and information

     - Continuing training of all the actors

     - Creation of a research center for social development.

2nd part: The approaches’ integration into Social development projects:

I- The tools of analysis:


1- The territorial approach:

     - The map of the territory of the project

       - The territorial diagnosis

       - The sociogram

       - The local development planning

       - The on going or achieved projects

       - The poverty and precariousness data

2- The Participatory and partnership approaches:

   - Meeting with local actors

   - The putting in place of a committee

   - Social animation, dialogue, communication and training

   - Advocacy and mobilization

   - Principle of subsidiary

   - All participatory methods insist on people and external partners’ participation not only in decision-making but also in the process of preparation of decision making.

3- The Gender approach:

      - Who does what? (With whom? For whom? Why?) 

      - How, with what means?

      - Who owns what?  

      - Who takes control of resources?   

      - Who decides de what?  

      - Who is responsible for what? 

      - Who does right have to quoi? 

      - Who enjoys some profits? 

      - Who gains what? Who spends what?  

(Why? After every question)

4- The environmental approach

- Does the project take into account the physical characteristics and climate?

- Has it an impact on the environment? If so, how?

- Does the project use renewable resources?

- Does the project have an impact on future water consumption?

- Will it put in place mechanisms of consumption reducing?  And the possibility of reusing rainwater?
- Will it put in place mechanisms of garbage collect?

II- The effective consideration of the said approaches in the life cycle of a project: (An example: a literacy project)

The project covers a set of steps fundamentally interlinked and forms its life cycle.

It includes diagnosis, analysis planning, implementation, monitoring and evaluation.

As a matter of fact, it’s the last one (step of monitoring and evaluation) which is the most important step in any literacy project. So, that’s what we are going to tackle in this last part.


- Creat a link between lessons given in the class and the local realities

- Appeal to UNESCO help (books, specialist of literacy project monitoring…)

- Use of solar energy for toilets water heating

- Establishment of Tools of verification and data base

- Appropriations’ measures

- Establishment of Objectively checkable indicators such as:

                            - Global enrolment rate and segregated rate (boy/girl)

                           -  Parity index boy/girl from class to class

                           - Ratio pupils per teacher

                            - Ratio pupil per classroom



  In short, considering all what is detailed above, we can be right to advance that the social projects, once these approaches taken in account, will enable a real social development in which basic needs of all the populations are met.



Commenter cet article

Abisai Mugata Mweya 20/04/2016 11:39

This discussion is out of topic. The listed approaches are not what is expected here.

Shadab 31/03/2016 11:15

Thank you for the summary over view and tools' analysis. I found it extremely useful for building strategic plan of my client NGOs.

Keep writing. Stay blessed. 28/02/2015 07:31

Excellent blog! Je tiens à remercier pour les efforts que vous avez faits dans la rédaction de ce poste. Je espère que le même meilleur travail de vous dans l'avenir ainsi. Je tenais à vous remercier pour cette sites! Merci pour le partage. Grands sites!

sdsdsds 10/01/2015 06:38


Online Scams 10/11/2014 12:51

I guess the whole thing depends on nothing but the territorial approach towards the issue whatever it may be and we have been doing this for a long time. And the best part is that this has proven to be very effective too.