Community-based targeting in the social protection sector

McCord, A.
Publication language
Date published
01 Sep 2013
Research, reports and studies
Accountability and Participation, Community-led, Targeting, Identification and Profiling

This working paper finds that community-based targeting (CBT) is valuable for the community knowledge it can bring to the targeting process that is inaccessible in other forms of targeting, and that the results of CBT are generally perceived as legitimate by the community.  Meta-analysis indicates that CBT outcomes are most frequently progressive, but are affected by a number of contextual factors, relating to the nature of the tasks ascribed to the community, the nature of the community representatives carrying out the targeting and the nature of the broader community. Performance is adversely affected where communities are large or widely distributed, or there are high levels of transience, heterogeneity and lack of social integration, where the community may not possess the requisite information to target effectively.

The CBT approach is subject to its own inherent limitations and risks, including those related to lack of transparency, discriminatory practices, exclusion of the poor considered ‘undeserving’, and elite capture. Failure of CBT outcomes to conform to performance yardsticks based on external definitions of poverty may not represent an objective failure of targeting, but may rather take into account factors not captured in external definitions, including social, cultural and political considerations.

CBT is primarily used in combination with other forms of targeting, and the legitimacy of CBT outcomes may be compromised where alternative targeting approaches are subsequently used that introduce beneficiary changes on the basis of externally defined criteria.