New article: The formation of Community-Based Organizations: an analysis of a quasi-experiment in Zimbabwe

female participantsZimbabwe’s land reform and resettlement programme in the early 1980s resulted in the formation of highly inclusive communities where the poor were not excluded from any of the groups set up to address communal  problems. This is the conclusion of a study of nineteen of the villages that were established in the programme. While men and women tended to separate into single-sex groups, this was not due to a lack of trust  between the sexes, and female-headed households were not excluded from community-based organizations (CBOs) either. Family, clan and religion all played an important role in bringing together neighbours who did not know each other prior to resettlement and these social ties provided the basis for the trust that has been essential for them to act collectively. 
These findings will come as good news to development practitioners who, as supporters of community-based development initiatives, engage existing CBOs or encourage people to form new groups and organizations to take part in interventions. However, it should be recognized that this study focused on a particular type of village. Unlike most rural Zimbabwean and other African communities,these resettlement villages are not made up of kinsmen but of people who generally knew few, if any, of their new neighbours before they were resettled. In many ways, they reflect refugee settlements in their organization.

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The article was published in World Development, Volume 66, pp. 131–153, 2015. 
More information about this project: 
See the website of the Centre for the Study of African Economies of Oxford University.
Earlier publications on this research:
An ASC Info Sheet about these findings was written by Abigail Barr and Marleen Dekker in 2011: 'Creating inclusive communities: the results of resettlement in Zimbabwe'.
The article 'Bridging the gender divide: an experimental analysis of group formation in African villages' was written by Abigail Barr, Marleen Dekker and Marcel Fafchamps and published in World Development, Volume 40, 2012.
The article 'Who shares risk with whom under different enforcement mechanisms?' was written by Abigail Barr, Marleen Dekker and Marcel Fafchamps and published in Economic development and cultural change, Volume 60, 2012.

Author(s) / editor(s)

Abigail Barr, Marleen Dekker, and Marcel Fafchamps

About the author(s) / editor(s)

Abigail Barr University of Nottingham
Marleen Dekker African Studies Centre 
Marcel Fafchamps Stanford University

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