Countless studies have shown that non-involvement of the target group – in agricultural activities or water supply projects – leads to frustration and even failure. Two public-private partnership (PPP) facilities were established by the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs in 2012: the Sustainable Water Fund (FDW) and the Facility for Sustainable Entrepreneurship and Food Security (FDOV). In the selection procedure, partnerships were asked to describe their impact on gender, without much explanation of what was meant. In addition, partnerships were requested to elaborate on the social sustainability of the project and to create a corporate social responsibility (CSR) policy including a gender strategy. A study of a large set of successful proposals showed that partnerships struggled with developing a strategy acknowledging local customs and gender roles while ensuring equal opportunities across various groups. Moreover, participation of communities and target groups received relatively little attention compared to technical and financial aspects of the projects. Based on the results from the studied project plans, this publication shows which eight key factors of community involvement are important to take into account when developing a PPP project and why. The publication also provides partnership practitioners with a list of reflective questions, with the purpose of serving as guide in incorporating these key factors in their project plans.


This booklet provides an understanding of what community and target group involvement – male and female – actually implies. It gives concrete guidelines on how to incorporate gender strategies and ensure community involvement in partnerships for development.

In addition, this publication aims to aid partnerships in the process of developing their project plan. Succeeding in incorporating the people’s perspective in project plans is not only likely to improve partnerships’ chance at obtaining funding for their projects, but will also greatly benefit the social and financial sustainability of the partnerships.

This booklet can help applicants of future calls for PPP facilities. Gender has gained a more central role in the application procedures of many facilities. Policy makers can find input on how community involvement can become an integrated aspect in the formulation of partnerships.

Citation Note

Commissioned by the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs