Asset-based community-driven development (ABCD)

Include, engage, inspire

The ABCD approach encourages communities and individual households to identify their existing assets and to use what they already have more efficiently and effectively to improve their own lives. It is based on three principles: ‘everyone has gifts’, ‘relationships build a community’ and ‘start with what you have’.

Community groups assess their existing assets and strengths. This allows them to develop a clearer understanding of who they are, what they want and what they like, and are hence able to recognize and appreciate their identities, interests and preferences (IIPs). Such assets include:

  • Knowledge, skills and talents (human assets),
  • Community associations and formal organizations and institutions (social assets),
  • Natural resources that support livelihood activities (natural assets),
  • Existing infrastructure and household possessions (physical assets),
  • Resources that circulate in the local economy (financial assets).

Based on these IIPs, community groups formulate community action plans towards the desired future change for their lives, communities and landscapes. Aligning their existing assets and strengths, the community members then define different pathways towards realization of these objectives, including a stepwise activity plan. These pathways differ and include entirely community-driven activities that are autonomously engaged in by community members, both individually and collectively, and activities pursued through strategic partnerships with external actors (identified through social asset mapping).


Lisa Fuchs

ABCD team leader

Levi Orero

Data analyst

Victoria Apondi

Senior ABCD field staff

Lang’at Kipkorir

Senior ABCD field staff

Irene Obumba

Junior ABCD field staff

Reuben Lesso

Junior ABCD field staff

Esther Atito

Junior ABCD field staff

Project timeframe: Since 2011

Countries: Various


Related theme(s):

  • Sustainable value chains and investments
  • Governance, equity and well-being

Global challenges:

  • A climate in crisis


Comart Foundation, Coady International Institute, Biovision Foundation, Global Affairs Canada Fund for Innovation and Technology, European Union


ABCD project timeline

CIFOR-ICRAF has been designing and implementing various ABCD projects since 2011. The consecutive projects are fully integrated in terms of concepts, approaches, and the incorporation of lessons.


Making Agroforestry work for smallholder farmers (2011-2014)



Accelerating Adoption of Agroforestry (2015–2019)



Farmer Dashboards (2020-2022)



Regreening Africa Sustainability Planning (2021–2022)



ABCD in Regreening (2021–2023)



Photo gallery

Market place. by World Agroforestry

Farmer Esther Ruto and friend picking coffee from her farm by World Agroforestry

Esther’s cows whichshe milks and sells the milk in the market by World Agroforestry

Farmer Esther Ruto and friend picking coffee from her farm by World Agroforestry

Secretary of Toben Gaa Self-help group, John Rono at his shop by World Agroforestry