M IN IS T R Y O F Paris,
Directorate General for
Directorate for Development
and Technical Cooperation
SECTOR STRATEGY NOTE:
SOCIAL DEVELOPMENT IN PRIORITY SOLIDARITY ZONES
1.1 Social development, a requirement...
Social development refers to the establishment and/or strengthening of the conditions required to enable each
individual to exercise, win or recover his or her rights, as laid down in particular in international texts and action
plans produced by major United Nations conferences. This also involves fully developing his or her potential,
participating actively in social life and taking his or her fair share of collective wealth. The community can thus
progress and allow its citizens to participate in the decisions on which their well-being depends.
Social development attempts to avoid exclusion upstream of an economic process which too often ignores the
social dimension. It strengthens social justice and fairness and facilitates the integration of the most vulnerable
populations. Thus, it plays a part in strategies to reduce poverty and inequality and promotes the harmonious and
balanced development of societies. It assumes a multidimensional and integrated approach in so far as its
economic, social, cultural and political components interact in a dynamic way.
1.2 … on the national scale
Although social development is not always subject to structuring at the institutional level (since ministries do not
have significant means of action, local authorities are not very involved in action in this sector, etc), it is
nonetheless addressed by a large number of players in civil society and sector professionals, who indicate that
there is a real demand in this field. This demand has in particular been expressed by countries on the occasion of
great conferences, which have given it legitimacy at the international level.
1.3 ... on the world scale
This definition of social development results from the lessons drawn from practical experience over long years of
development, reflected in the great United Nations conferences.
The children’s summit (New York, 1990), the human rights conference (Vienna, 1993), the summit on
population dynamics (Cairo, 1994), the women’s summit (Beijing, 1995) and the summit on social development
(Copenhagen, 1995) have, each in its own field, definitively anchored the debate at an international level and
compelled states the make commitments on national action programmes.
These programmes mark a switch from a concept of offering cooperation based in particular on aid (in the social
sphere) to one of a real partnership based on a response to the demand.
What are the challenges for the MFA?: to work for an interdependent and secure globalisation
It is today essential to strengthen a development policy based on the encouragement and observance of rights and
on the implementation of a social environment conducive to harmonious development.
The MFA is urging a broader concept for the struggle against poverty. The cyclical mitigation of the pernicious
effects of certain economic policies is to be replaced by a more structured response with the aim of including all
populations, reducing inequalities and limiting the effects of life’s ups and downs. The struggle against poverty is
then no longer reduced to a particular mode of intervention in support of the most destitute, but is a way of
designing “inclusive” development models1.
It contributes, in the context of globalisation, to the reduction of disparities and the phenomena of exclusion,
sources of tensions, and to the encouragement of mechanisms of interdependence, or systems of social
organisation supporting integration and social cohesion.
III. Strategy and areas for intervention
From the operational point of view, social development involves three complementary objectives:
- strengthening the institutions responsible for social questions at both national and local levels;
- strengthening the capabilities of the players (users/citizens, professionals);
- consolidation of the links between these two levels.
In this respect, the social development office is supporting the actions of partner countries in the following
Strengthening social regulation involves in particular “broadened” social protection covering populations in
the formal and informal sectors. This involves supporting social protection which, over and above the
coverage of health risks, is intended to guard against the effects of other types of traumas (loss of job,
inadequate income, economic burdens associated with handicaps and different social and cultural
obligations, etc). This vision of social protection assumes actions to re-establish equality of opportunity for
all individuals and to enable everyone to realise his or her potential.
Social protection, an essential means of providing equitable access to social services, is at the centre of the
action programmes to which each of the signatory countries to the great international conferences is
Apart from the need to take account of systems of social protection implemented informally, which make it
possible to open up populations excluded from institutional systems, support should be given to initiatives
intended to link the formal and informal social protection systems.
Ministry of Foreign Affairs, The Struggle against Poverty, Inequality and Exclusion. Reference Series, 30 pp.
Strengthen, in the PSZ countries, the abilities of the public authorities, in partnership with civil
society, to propose social protection programmes.
Strengthen the abilities of these countries to negotiate with the donor community in order to put
forward their point of view and their own interests in this field.
Fund and implement research activities in this field, involving French institutions and the competent
partners in the countries with which France is in cooperation. For the DDTC, the active participation of
researchers and professionals from these countries is one of the conditions for such research to be
operational for developing countries and for it to take account of the diverse experiences available in the
Support the networking of partners (governmental or otherwise) with a view to identifying pilot
projects in accordance with agreed priorities.
Support the initiatives of partner countries aimed at integrating these issues into their political
directions and in particular into the framework of initiative.
Example of a programme of cooperation:
Under the terms of the partnership agreement between France and the ILO, the DDTC is playing a part in
the considerations in progress at the international level on the social dimension of globalisation. This
participation has particular applications in:
the project to organise an international seminar in 2003 on the topic of “interdependence and social
protection” in association with the ILO and the World Bank;
the implementation of a bi/multi mobilising programme of a pilot nature on the extension of social
protection to populations excluded (women in particular) from the formal systems in three PSZ countries
(Burkina Faso, Ethiopia and Vietnam).
The Cairo conference (1995) marks the end of a concept of population policies reduced to monitoring
demographic reproduction in favour of a more humanist vision, centred on the needs of the individual. In
particular, it adopted the concept of “reproductive health”: by analogy with the WHO definition of health (a
state of complete well-being, physical, mental and social), reproductive health is defined not only as the
absence of illness or difficulties during the reproductive process, but also as all of the conditions under
which the reproductive process can be performed in a state of physical, mental and social well-being. The
concept of reproductive health, which initially concerned essentially the mother-child pair, has in fact
recently been broadened and today takes account of all stages of life (birth, adolescence, procreation,
menopause and male menopause), for both men and women2.
Contribute to the essential knowledge of the demographic and social contexts for development
Support work in French demographic research with respect to population, acknowledged for its real
added value in the international debate on practical cooperation in this field.
Institute sex education programmes, particularly for adolescents, making use of local expertise and
involving political, associational and religious leaders.
Support couples’ and individuals’ control over their fertility.
Definition approved at the Cairo conference
Support “reproductive health” programmes.
Example of a programme of cooperation:
The DDTC is coordinating an innovative programme of south-south cooperation between Tunisia and Niger
in the field of reproductive health and family planning (RH/FP). For Tunisia, through its National Office for
the Family and the Population, this involves applying its experience in this field by adapting it to the context
of Niger in order to contribute to a reduction in mother and child mortality and morbidity rates around the
city of Niamey. The actions relate to strengthening community-based health service capabilities, improving
access for the populations to RH/FP activities, informing, educating and communicating with the target
populations and making representations to decision-makers and opinion leaders. Fully aware of the concept
of this programme, the UNFPA is providing specific support in its areas of competence.
The international action undertaken by France in support of children will henceforth form part of a new
action plan “for a world worthy of its children” adopted at the last world children’s summit (New York,
May 2002). It is inspired directly by the action plan adopted in 1990, the objective of which is to give every
child a better future with, among other priorities, the protection of children against all forms of violence and
exploitation, (sexual, at work, involvement in conflicts), trafficking and the promotion of their rights at all
times of life.
Support study programmes, surveys, raising awareness and training along with the production of
legislative frameworks concerning the protection of children against all forms of exploitation, violence
and abuse and in particular sexual exploitation, which seems to be an emerging question in Central and
Support education, information and awareness initiatives intended to combat the involvement of
children in armed conflicts, placing the emphasis on the encouragement of a culture of respect for
children’s rights and on an appropriate legal and regulatory framework.
Support the psychosocial re-adaptation and re-inclusion of child victims of conflicts.
Contribute to actions to take care of AIDS orphans.
Examples of programmes of cooperation:
A bi/multi programme with UNICEF on the protection of childhood in Africa covers in particular the
following 3 issues: struggle against the sexual exploitation of children – taking care of children involved
in armed conflicts – struggle against female genital mutilation. It comprises information campaigns in
support of legislative reforms and in support of projects aimed at improving the lot of children.
In Romania, the physical abuse of children constitutes a major issue for the accession of this country into
the European Union. The DDTC is responding to this through programmes supporting the training of
social workers, exchanges between judges, supporting the legislative reforms required by the Romanian
authorities and direct support to abused children.
Equality of rights/equality of opportunity between men and women
Following the example of all the countries in the international community, and particularly the developing
countries, at the United Nations international conference on women held in Beijing (1995), France made a
number of commitments for the encouragement of equality between men and women. Furthermore,
numerous reports fed by information taken from field experiences, in particular from the World Bank3, tend
to show that gender inequalities4 constitute one of the causes of inequalities in development and of poverty.
The MFA is absorbing these results and seeking to integrate then into its development aid policy.
The action undertaken by the MFA is aimed at reducing poverty and inequalities by encouraging integrated
development, i.e. ensuring in particular that women and men are equal players and leaders in development,
that they benefit fairly5 from the advantages and opportunities created by development and access to
The MFA has a double strategy. It involves, on the one hand, tending towards integration of the gender
dimension into all development projects, paying particular attention to education and the defence of
women’s rights and, on the other hand, implementing programmes specifically devoted to women in order to
improve their social situation.
Support activities generating income for women.
Support the participation of women in taking decisions concerning their communities.
Support legislative reforms to encourage equality of rights between men and women.
Support training for decision-makers and development practitioners on “gender” questions.
Implement, through a lateral dynamic, a methodology in order to apply the “gender” matrix to all
sectors of development (education, health, economy, agriculture, etc).
Develop networking, exchanges of experiences between practitioners.
Encourage the collection of data and diagnostics on the situation of gender relations.
Examples of programmes of cooperation:
Under the terms of the Afghanistan action plan, the MFA is supporting projects implemented by NGOs
aimed at reinstating the position of women in society. The programme relates to micro-enterprises,
training in the field of media and the creation of social health structures.
A bi/multilateral programme with UNIFEM on the topic of the rights of women and the family in the
Maghreb and the Machrek is being developed. Based on pilot programmes dealing with violence against
women in Morocco and training for policewomen in Jordan in particular, it is aimed at supporting the
changes in legislation in progress in order to prevent discrimination.
Engendering Development – Through gender equality in rights, resources and voice. World Bank, 2001.
The term gender describes the roles of women and men defined socially. Since they are not determined by sex, these roles
are able to change over time, depending on the social contexts.
“Gender equality” means that there is no social discrimination in the distribution of resources and benefits and in access to
services between men and women.
Fairness takes account of the particular situation of individuals in the distribution of wealth and benefits etc. Fairness or
equality of opportunity tends actually to reflect equality of formal rights.
Social development requires that each individual should have professional skills enabling him or her to
position himself or herself to best advantage on the market, whether formal or informal. These skills must be
acquired within an initial training system but also thanks to lifelong learning, both institutional and non-
institutional. The latter will naturally be of advantage to populations excluded from traditional initial
Furthermore, social development requires the mobilisation of specific professional skills in the social field,
at both institutional and operational levels: analysis of the needs, expectations and demands with a view to
translating them into policies, strategies and action programmes, strengthening know-how for the
implementation of projects with start-up and on-going objectives.
Define initial and lifelong training programmes for players in social action and social development
taking account of the specific cultural and social aspects of the environment with particular emphasis on
mediation. These programmes must address all the publics concerned: social workers and administrative
and local authority staff, association managers and coordinators performing a function of general interest.
Promote training in social work in the universities.
Support the institutional attachment of social staff, in particular at local authorities under the terms of
their territory projects.
Examples of programmes of cooperation:
In Angola, the programme of support for social development seems matched to the challenges of a
country coming out of crisis and needing to reconstruct its social fabric. It is intended to strengthen the
professional abilities of social workers and to encourage concerted action between the public authorities
and the players in social action (professional, religious and social organisations).
In Madagascar, a programme is entirely devoted to training for social workers in the associational and
institutional sector. Furthermore, a degree course in social action has been instituted within the
Department of Human Sciences at the University of Tamatave.
Local development, an efficient level of social cohesion
The more and more significant associational mobilisation in districts, villages, towns and, to a lesser extent,
“provinces”, meeting the needs of citizens to search by themselves for solutions for improving their living
conditions of itself gives them greater and greater responsibility in the management of the “city”. At the
same time, the more and more generalised process of decentralisation brings new responsibilities to towns
and “provinces”. It is found appropriate to assist the double movement undertaken, local space today
appearing to be one of the favoured areas for concerted action on which the preservation or the
strengthening of social cohesion may depend. This is in itself an essential factor in social development.
Local development is an instrument for the organisation of this local space which is understood and
conducted as a structured process of participative negotiation and shared decision-making. It is a procedure
based on a relationship built between players (state, territorial communities, organisations in civil society),
based on collective participation, contract-based solutions, mediation, partnership, alliances with the outside
and an awareness of specific socio-cultural aspects. The context then becomes favourable to the
development of more harmonious, but also economic and financial social dynamics. Local development
takes the form of “territorial projects”, marking the initial framework where the procedure is to be
implemented, for which it offers a methodology.
One of the effects of local development could be, thanks to the relationship of trust reinstated within this
framework between local communities and their constituents, the acceptance of taxation which might
encourage the establishment of social protection institutions of an egalitarian nature.
As regards this field in particular, the action of the social development office should be in close partnership
with the local and urban development office (DTC/ILO).
Give priority to players in local development for the establishment of their territorial projects. Support is
reflected in the strengthening of their capabilities as regards organisation, management, concerted action,
negotiation, mediation and their legal skills.
Through the creation of spaces and instruments, provide for exchange and articulation between the local
players themselves and between them and national players. Thus, the local players will be in a position to
push their point of view in defining national policies and strategies and in their implementation at least with
respect to a given territory.
Implant local democracy, in particular for partners involved in a process of decentralisation.
Provide a reference framework, a method for players involved in international cooperation.
Utopia today, it may become reality tomorrow through the convergence of numerous experiences in
Strengthen the MFA’s role of mediator between, on the one hand, the players in partner countries,
contracting authorities for the construction of their common future and, on the other hand, those in French
non-governmental cooperation who are also concerned and involved in the same exercise in France. Local
development is based on a multi-partnership.
Systematically involve and/or encourage organisations in civil society.
Example of a programme of cooperation:
The “urban social development project” in Mali is aimed at repositioning the populations in a role of
citizens questioning local elected representatives and municipalities in their public service mission with
respect to all the populations. Its various component parts relate to access to basic services, access to
training, credit, strengthening the skills of local players, consolidation of the process of concerted action
with municipalities and funding and dissemination of procedures.
Interactions between economic and social aspects
The socio-economic tensions generated by citizens’ movements raising questions and alternative proposals,
including in particular the meetings in Porto Alegre, have given rise to a wish to debate and rethink the
existing relationships between the economic and social aspects on both macro-economic and micro-
Although the task is ambitious, it is nevertheless stimulated at this double level respectively by (i) the
implementation of debt relief programmes, which provides the opportunity to strengthen the impact of aid to
development on improving the well-being of underprivileged populations and by (ii) the acknowledgement
of economic initiatives for social purposes which abound throughout the world and bring with them a new
ethic. In this respect, the social development office wishes to take part in considerations instigated by social
networks bringing about greater democratisation of economic relationships.
a) Macro-economic approach: debt relief and effectiveness of aid directed towards the poor
Debt relief programmes, implemented on the multilateral level through the Highly Indebted Poor Countries
(HIPC) initiative and on the bilateral level through the Debt Relief and Development Contract (C2D) are
intended to release room for budgetary manoeuvre in the struggle against poverty and inequality. For this
purpose, the financing generated by the cancellation of debt has to be allocated to the priorities defined by
the countries in their Poverty Reduction Strategy Papers (PRSP). In this context, the social development
office is making sure that the priority areas of intervention described above are included in the programmes
accompanying debt relief.
b) Micro-economic approach: interdependent economy
An interdependent economy is a hybrid economy seeking to reconcile initiative (individual value glorified
by the market) and interdependence (collective value mainly provided by government through redistribution
policies) by decompartmentalising the principles of the market/non-market or monetary/non-monetary
economy. This mixture provides for the creation of wealth (goods and services) in parallel with the
establishment of social links.
Over and above meeting social needs, the various practical aspects of the interdependent economy play a
part in strengthening social cohesion. In fact, they distinguish between interdependence based on the
protection of traditions and customs and imposed and restricting interdependence. On the other hand, they
are the expression of interdependence undertaken and chosen freely, where personal relationships go hand-
in-hand with the equality of the participants in the action.
Examples of programmes of cooperation:
In the current state of development of this file as part of our cooperation, the interdependent economy is
Strengthening capabilities for financing and management of women’s economic activities. This is the
objective of one of the components of the programme to support district initiatives in Madagascar. This
involves, in this respect, in addition to structuring activities for the associational movement and the
implementation of collective devices for participative management, supporting micro-credit programmes
based on interdependent guarantees intended for women’s groups. These programmes benefit from
Structuring productive sectors under a dynamic of mutualism as is the case for the programme providing
support for socio-economic initiatives in Madagascar which accompanies the grouping together of wood-
and ironworkers, in particular, around the joint technical, financial and training facilities needed for their
activities with an increase in quality. Such a mechanism may contribute to a switch from an informal
economy characterised by lower quality, insecurity of activities and fluctuation of income to a formal
economy likely to provide a solution for these problems.
IV. Method and means
4.1 The lateral dimension of social development
Social development is a highly lateral field. Coordination between DGICD departments is essential with a
view to taking account of the social dimension in the sector programmes being supported by the MFA. An
interdependent development policy cannot effectively limit the involvement of the social aspect in the
strategies being implemented in the social sectors.
The social development office (DTC/HSO) naturally intends to emphasise this lateral dimension, whether
with other social offices (health, education, professional training), other sector offices (environment,
decentralisation, urban/local development, agriculture, etc.) or the office for financial and economic support
(concomitant to debt relief programmes).
a) Bi/multilateral priority social fund (PSF)
The establishment of bi/multilateral programmes has four advantages, which are not mutually exclusive:
1. It facilitates intervention in countries where France’s expertise and the availability of technical
assistants are weak.
2. Il goes beyond strictly national frameworks for problems for which the increasing globalisation of trade
and knowledge requires solutions which can only be global.
3. It gives some interventions a certain neutrality which makes them acceptable by the beneficiary
4. Finally, it may provide an opportunity for French cooperation to have an upstream influence on the
considerations and actions undertaken by international institutions.
Programmes in progress
With ILO, a project on social protection for women excluded from institutional systems (Burkina Faso,
With UNFPA, a project to monitor the action programme of the United Nations World Conference held
in Cairo on population dynamics (Ivory Coast, Madagascar).
With UNICEF, a project on urban health, education for girls and childhood protection.
With UNRWA, a project to improve social living conditions for Palestinian refugees.
Programmes in preparation
With UNIFEM, a project on rights of women and the family in the Maghreb and the Machrek.
With UNICEF, a project on care for AIDS orphans and other vulnerable children.
With UNFPA, a project on reproductive health and the struggle against AIDS.
b) MOBILISING programmes.
Apart from the bi/multilateral PSF, the social development office is supervising three mobilising
- encouragement of actions in support of social development
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- implementation of the Beijing action programme – encouragement of the rights of women (pilot actions in
Benin, Burkina Faso, Ivory Coast, Mali, Niger, Senegal)
- Youth, Associational Life (JVA) (about ten countries have already joined this programme, in both black
Africa and the Middle East)
- Apart from the programmes directly under the HSO, the mobilising programme implemented by the Mission
for non-governmental cooperation (MCNG), which benefits from financing from one part of the contribution
of the MFA to projects run by international solidarity organisations (OSI), is contributing significantly to
social development in numerous countries. In fact, an important part of these projects is to support actions
relating to the social sector.
In this respect, it should be emphasised that the financing in place and often the quality of the projects
show that the OSIs are among the full players in international cooperation and in particular in social
The procedures whereby the MCNG coordinates the sector offices in order to examine the files submitted
to it enable the social development office to take real account of the social development actions supported
by the OSIs.
c) COUNTRY PSF programmes
On social development topics, various projects have been initiated by the SCAC in Angola (support for
social development), Cameroon (support for social development / youth, associational life and social
inclusion), Djibouti (structuring of the associational movement), Madagascar (training and studies in the
field of social development / programme of support for district initiatives), Mozambique (support for the
Ministry for Social Action in the enhancement of social services), Niger (support for social development /
south-south programme to support reproductive health in Niger and Tunisia), etc.
New projects are undergoing validation and illustrate some of the office’s main thrusts: in Mali, the
programme of urban social development (local development topic), in Madagascar, the programme to
support the PAISE (programme in support of socio-economic inclusion) socio-economic initiatives
(interdependent economy), in the Palestinian territories, the programme for social re-inclusion of young
Palestinians in a conflict situation (social inclusion and local development in association with the JVA
The Social Development Fund, a devolved financing instrument, should provide for “experimentation”
with approaches in the social sector likely to encourage a better understanding of local demand on the
basis of which more ambitious, coherent and global cooperation is possible. Examples can already be
The PSF programme in support of socio-economic initiatives in Madagascar (PAISE), currently
undergoing examination, was produced on the basis of information drawn from an experimental phase
financed on the SDF. This “initial” phase provided for a proper appropriation by the national
authorities and their regional partners, which is reflected in particular by highly significant financial
and methodological support by the Regional Council of the Island of Réunion, giving this programme a
real regional dimension, and the inclusion in the Madagascan state budget of a contribution equal to the
Also in Madagascar, the programme in support of district initiatives (PAIQ), which acts as a reference
in the field of local development, grew out of a programme of micro-implementations in certain
districts of Antananarivo financed on the SDF. The switch from SDF to a PSF programme has made it
possible, on the basis of knowledge of activities financed on SDF, to construct a proper local
development programme in cooperation with several Madagascan municipalities and as part of a
demanding systemic approach, which characterises local development.
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As part of the process of debt relief, C2D may offer the opportunity for beneficiary partner countries for
greater and more diversified investment in the social development sector. In fact, the funds released in this
way should be allocated to the struggle against poverty and inequality.
In this respect, the efforts in progress in Cameroon by the parties concerned (Cameroon state and French
cooperation) to target the actions eligible for C2D provide a positive illustration of the actual acceptance
of this opportunity.
4.2.2. Human resources
a) Departmental staff (central and detached) and technical assistance
The greater and greater attention given to the social sector in international cooperation requires the
commensurate mobilisation of human resources. Although the enhancement of local skills constitutes one
of the essential conditions for social development and is thus a cooperative action in itself, the
strengthening of skills in the departments handling cooperation, cultural action and technical assistance
are, at the same time, essential.
At the present time, the resources engaged on technical assistance for the social development office today
represent about thirty professionals. However, the office’s new directions, which place the emphasis on a
certain number of priorities, are going to require a refined definition of the profiles, which will eventually
change the nature and numbers of this resource.
For this purpose, seminars/workshops have been organised for these publics. Publications in the
production of which the latter should be associated along with the other relevant departments of the
DGICD will also give food for consideration on specific topics.
The explicit inclusion of a skill with respect to social development in the terms of the mission statement of
regional health/social advisers should be of considerable added value, enabling the outstations to take more
account of the demand for cooperation in this sector.
Openness to the outside and to experiences acquired by researchers and professionals in this field is one of
the essential conditions for a proper understanding of the problems and challenges. The establishment
and/or strengthening of South and North/South networks (strengthening expertise and exchanges) with the
objective of funding and enhancing the work carried out constitutes a priority for the social development
Networks established or under consideration:
“Population” network (CEPED)6, comprising the best French and PSZ researchers and operators, brings
its expertise to the MFA both for cooperation programmes and in order to defend the concepts at
“Gender in action” network, established in 2002, applies the same principle for everything relating to
“Local development” network (under consideration). This will involve, with a view to enhancement,
providing for exchanges on experiences with development in progress in the PSZ countries, in France
and also in the countries where the expertise in this field may constitute real added value. The eventual
objective is to make methodological tools available to the various associational and institutional players
responsible for territorial projects and leadership of them.
French Centre for Population and Development
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Summary table of the resources employed by HSO (social development office)
PSF ATD Chapter IV
Number of projects Amount Number Amount
(in €) (in €)
1999 5 6 479 082 32 2 532 000 Budget established at the
time with HSA line
2000 5 5 407 384 28 2 262 000 1 608 000
2001 4 7 816 583 29 2 456 000 1 585 000
1/ for 1999, it is difficult to distinguish between the health office (HSA) and the social development office (HSO)
in so far as the appropriation for these two offices was merged.
NB: it would be necessary to add to these calculations the considerable sums for projects relating to the social
sector financed on the SDF