Japan Social Development Fund (JSDF) 

Oct 22, 2020 | Financing Mechanisms


The Japan Social Development Fund (JSDF) is a Partnership between the Government of Japan (GoJ) and the World Bank conceived in the wake of the Asian financial crisis in the late 1990s. It was established in June 2000 as a grant mechanism to provide targeted assistance to groups made vulnerable by the financial crisis in low- and lower-middle-income countries around the world.

The objectives of the JSDF program is to provide grants in support of community-driven development and poverty reduction projects that empower the poorest and most vulnerable groups not reached by other programs and improve their lives through direct benefits. Grants are made to eligible recipient countries, based on income level classification. Unlike most Bank-financed projects that are executed by the government at the central level, JSDF grants are executed by NGOs/CSOs and local governments and implemented at the community level. These features make the JSDF program unique, attractive, responsive, and provides a platform for cooperation between NGOs and other local stakeholders in the development process. This had led to meaningful progress in areas not previously associated with the Bank’s work with the public sector.

Since its inception until June 2017, the Government of Japan has provided US$750 million. The fund has become the leading source of support for innovation, multi-sector social poverty alleviation program, responding directly to the needs of the poorest and most vulnerable.

As a model for social development, effectively contributing to the World Bank’s Twin Goals of Ending Extreme Poverty and Promoting Shared Prosperity, the JSDF supported projects have been scaled up with funding from the World Bank, Recipient Countries, and other Development Partners.

JSDF  spans themes ranging from Livelihood Support; Improved Nutrition and Early Childhood Development; Inclusive Education; through Environmentally Sustainable Agricultural Practices, Adaptation to Climate Change and Community-Level Disaster Risk Management; to Legal Services and Local Governance; and Basic Health and Sanitation Services. More than 50% of JSDF grants have been implemented by Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) and about 93 low and lower-middle income member countries of the World Bank have benefited from this Program.

Grant Types & Country Eligibility

There are three broad categories of funding available under the JSDF Program:

  • Regular Program Grants finance either project or capacity building activities, up to US$3 million, aimed at introducing innovative solutions that provide direct benefits to disadvantaged communities.
  • Special Program Grants provide financing for JSDF project investment and capacity building grants supporting the reconstruction of Afghanistan and transition to socio-economic stability.
  • Seed-Fund Grants up to US$75,000 to assist during the JSDF project preparation phase with the consultation process with the targeted beneficiaries at the local community level, and with other key stakeholders such as civil society organizations and local governments, including M&E readiness assessment to ensure maximum ownership, results, and sustainability of the project at completion.

The JSDF finances project grants and capacity building grants:

  • Project Grants finance activities that provide direct benefits to disadvantaged communities by targeting underserved groups not reached by mainstream programs, through innovative projects that deliver results in the short term.
  • Capacity Building Grants finance capacity building to empower and strengthen local community authorities, NGOs, local governments and stakeholders through engagement of target groups to participate in their development by learning and doing. These grants may specifically support local governments working in partnership with local communities.

All Low-Income and Middle-Income Countries , as outlined in the yearly World Development Reports (WDR), eligible for World Bank assistance, can be a Recipient of JSDF grants.

Application Process

The objective of the JSDF is to provide grants in support of community-driven development and poverty reduction projects that empower the poorest and most vulnerable groups not reached by other programs and improve their lives through direct benefits.

Recipient-Executed Grants are made to eligible countries, based on income level classification.  As stated earlier, all low and lower middle income countries are Eligible (should be a link to the list of eligible countries) to receive a JSDF grant. All development sectors are also eligible for funding.

The JSDF Secretariat issues calls for Ideas Briefs (IB) twice a year. The main purpose of this exercise is to help applicants develop robust ideas for funding under the JSDF before extensive resources are dedicated on detailed proposals.

Unlike most Bank-financed projects that are executed by the government at the central level, JSDF grants are executed by NGOs/CSOs and local governments, implemented at the community level. However, JSDF applications including concept notes are not accepted from outside parties. They require the sponsorship and endorsement by the relevant Global Practice (GP) or Global Theme Department (GT) in the World Bank. Therefore, it is important for NGO/CSO and Community-Based Organization (CBO) applicants to establish contact with the Country Program Coordinator (CPC) or Program Leader (PL) of the relevant GP or GT to see the extent to which their project ideas can be supported and submitted to JSDF on their behalf.  To ensure harmonization and coordination, Bank task teams are required to consult with the Embassy of Japan & JICA accredited to the recipient country. TTLs are also required to secure endorsement by the Bank Country Director and Global Practice managers.

The JSDF Secretariat will review and clear the submitted idea briefs. Once an IB has been cleared, World Bank Task Team, together with the Applicant, will proceed in preparing the Project Initiation Note (PIN) in accordance with the Bank’s Small Grants Guidelines and Procedures. The draft PIN will then be submitted to Japan by the JSDF Secretariat for review and clearance. Once the PIN has been cleared by Japan, the Bank Task Team in consultation with the Applicant will move to the appraisal phase with the preparation of the Project Paper (PP). The approval of the PP by Japan will signal the beginning of project implementation through the signing of the Grant Agreement.

Further information can be provided by contacting the JSDF Secretariat.

Selection Criteria

JSDF project proposals should respond to the following criteria:

  • The grant objective should be consistent with the country assistance strategy (CAS), Sustainable Development Strategy (SDG) or the Country Partnership Framework (CPF).
  • Target and Respond to the Needy, providing direct benefits to the poor, vulnerable, and disadvantaged groups with rapid results for improved livelihood.
  • Support Community-Driven Development by Empowering the Poor at the local community level, to participate in society and government and to affect their development and learning by doing.
  • Engage NGOs/CSOs or Local Cooperatives/Community Associations, or Local Governments as Implementing Agencies which are close to the beneficiaries and where they have a say in their development.
  • Build Capacity through special capacity building grants to strengthen communities and their associations to participate in decisions that affect their lives, as well as strengthening the capacity of their local governments and local NGOs/CSOs to provide services.
  • Pilot Alternative Innovative Approaches or Partnerships engaging NGOs/CSOs, community associations, or local governments as implementing agencies to reach the target groups not reached by other programs.
  • Reflect a Participatory Design and consultation process with the targeted beneficiaries who endorse the grant activities.
  • Utilize Participatory Monitoring and Evaluation to help beneficiaries address their vulnerability and to ensure ownership and sustainability.
  • Encourage Sustainability through Scale-Up of pilot at completion through Bank-financed operations, recipient government activities, or other entities.
  • The minimum grant size is US$200,000 and the maximum is US$3 million for regular program grants.