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Mainstreaming inclusive resilience in South Asia

Our work has helped in contextual understanding of social exclusion and contributed to incorporation of processes in the project design and implementation.


The World Bank’s South Asia Disaster Risk Management team undertook a new regional technical assistance 'Mainstreaming Inclusive Resilience in South Asia' to proactively incorporate social inclusion in the existing and new DRM lending portfolio.

We had to carry out technical assistance with following objectives:
(a) to develop action plans for five pilot projects, that were either new or existing, to better address social inclusion in the project design/implementation stage; and
(b) to design and deliver training workshops that help government counterparts and World Bank's DRM and social development specialists, to design more socially inclusive DRM projects.

Under this assignment, two activities were planned:
(i) developing action plan to identify practical entry points for more robust social inclusion elements in the five pilot projects;
(ii) training workshop for consultation and learning opportunities.


Gender is a persistent fact of social exclusion. There is female disadvantage in most aspects of development and human condition – be it education, wages, working conditions, vulnerability to violence, agency over key decisions affecting one’s life, right to own property, food security and health. All other dimensions of social exclusion compound and magnify the effects of gender based exclusion.

While communities and families are often the main focus of social inclusion measures, marginality and exclusion of individuals within communities and families is a significant source of vulnerability. Disability is another key dimension of individual vulnerability and exclusion, often regardless of family status.

These various dimensions of social exclusion in South Asia are sustained and reproduced by underlying economic, social and political processes. The following processes often act together to keep individuals and families trapped in poverty and inequality despite the promise of equality in formal systems such as constitutions and laws:

  • Unequal access in markets
  • Fragmentation and lack of collective action
  • Social isolation of families and individuals
  • Relations of exploitation and dependence
  • Weak political voice

Our approach

We brought on-the-ground contextual understanding of exclusion in each country, as well as practical disaster management experience. We used prior mapping of social exclusion to review project design with respect to its incorporation of social exclusion processes and dynamics.  We reviewed to what extent project design addresses social exclusion explicitly, and if not, does it address it implicitly. We reviewed several project design features that are particularly relevant, such as approach to targeting – and if geographical, whether proactive outreach, approach to outreach – bottom-up versus top-down or some combination, and uses of existing administrative machinery and its limitations. The action plan for mainstreaming inclusive resilience in existing projects that we proposed were based on reviewing project documents, global best practices and key informant interviews along the above-mentioned dimensions. After the review, we provided a set of recommendations to improve the features of existing and future activities to better address issues related to social inclusion.


The outcome of this research assignment will be a set of issues and guidelines, along with action plans for five specified projects, that will result in improved social inclusion element in design of existing and future World Bank DRM projects. The World Bank staff and related government officials (departments), which are implementing the project along with the communities for whose benefit the projects are being implemented, will be the eventual beneficiaries of this assignment. Final beneficiaries of the assignment will be people living at the grassroots who often get left out or are discriminated against when it comes to benefiting from the World Bank funded projects. Finally, once research findings are incorporated in the design of current and future projects and implemented on the ground, this should result in the inclusion of groups and individuals who might otherwise have been excluded from project benefits.

We implemented this project together with The Collective for Social Science Research, and Special Talent Exchange Program.