The popularity of the term capacity development from the 1990s onwards reflected a growing recognition that externally-induced efforts had barely made a dent towards reducing poverty and fostering sustainable development. Attention turned to the abilities required to organize and sustain development efforts and the necessity of 'ownership' by local actors in recipient countries.
Over the last two decades, all major international fora - from the UN Multilateral Environmental Agreements, the Millennium Summits, the biennial High Level Forum on Aid Effectiveness and a host of governmental and non-governmental initiatives - have concurred that donor harmonization and alignment is one of the key pillars in achieving sustainable development goals .
Despite such widespread consensus, however, aid partnerships remain inherently unequal, with financial, decision-making and professional power unevenly distributed.
The editors of the recently published resource volume Capacity Development in Practice (Earthscan, 2010) identify four specific challenges associated with the international cooperation sector that must be addressed if capacity development to truly come of age as a professional practice.
- A fixation on short-term projects, quick results, and the latest buzz words, as opposed to a long-term, focused and quality-oriented engagement that is critical for achieving capacity development;
- Linking the 'management for results' logic to outcomes of social change processes, which underplays the importance of understanding different ways in which results have, or could have been achieved;
- A proliferation of actors in the sector - from multi-lateral and bilateral institutions, international NGOs and stakeholders within recipient countries - each pursuing their own agenda and with little consultation or coordination of efforts;
- A tendency for development activities to be overseen by generalist foreign service professionals who may not be conversant with, or able to stimulate, professional rigour and innovation for capacity development.
This section aims to highlight initiatives and best practice that offer a way forward in tackling these issues, and to showcase efforts 'from below' to hold donors and development service-providers accountable.
The Overseas Development Institute (ODI, UK) has announced an initiative to track all proposals emerging out of the UN High Level Panel on the Post-2015 Millenium Development Goals and the UN Open Working Group on Sustainable Development Goals (an outcome of the Rio+20 Conference in June 2012). The project invites input on any missing proposals and is especially interested in any proposals on concrete targets and indicators. For an overview of goals tracked so far, please go to: http://post2015.org/2013/01/08/tracking-proposals-on-future-development-goals/More
23 May 2013
This report published by the Global Water Partnership (GWP) summarizes findings from 22 national consultations that it organized between February and May 2013. The consultations aimed to: identify country needs; obtain a deeper qualitative understanding of national priorities; and compliment the online global thematic consultation on water. The broad topics covered included water resources and wastewater management, as well as quality and water supply, sanitation and hygiene (WASH).More
09 May 2013
This policy brief from the Norwegian Peacebuilding Resource Centre highlights experiences from a regional capacity development initiative in Eastern Africa coordinated by the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD). The project brings civil servant support officers (CSSOs) from neighbouring countries and twins them with counterparts in various government ministries in South Sudan, with the aim of rapidly develop core government capacity in a coaching and mentoring scheme.More
08 May 2013
While the concept of "sustainable intensification" is viewed by some as a cynical attempt to promote industrial-scale agriculture, there is a growing international counter-movement that aims to demonstrate that intensification can also be driven by small-scale and sustainable farming systems. Falling squarely in the second camp is the Montpellier Panel, an international group of experts whose latest report aims to offer "a practical pathway towards the goal of producing more food with less impact on the environment."More
08 April 2013
This UNESCO publication investigates the challenges that war-torn Afghanistan faces in rebuilding its education sector. Case studies of capacity development partnerships between Afghanistan’s Ministry of Education and two UN agencies, an NGO consortium, and an education donor, explore efforts to strengthen the country’s education system.More
02 April 2013
The 2013 edition of the Africa Capacity Indicators Report (ACIR) on the theme
Capacity Development for Natural Resources Management was launched in March 2013. The
report focuses on what African countries need to do individually and collectively to effectively
manage the continent's nautral resource wealth. Like the previous two editions, the Africa
Capacity Index ranks the performance of 44 African countries according to four key clusters of
capacity: the policy environment; processes for implementation; development results at the country
level; and capacity development outcomes.
18 March 2013
A working group set up to review the reform of USAID's policies in the area of domestic accountability, has released its findings and recommendations. The Advisory Committee on Voluntary Foreign Aid (ACVFA) focused its review on two overall goals in the reform process that are most relevant for changing the way the Agency engages in implementation and procurement work in support of building sustainability and local partnerships.More
The Learning Network on Capacity Development (LenCD) is an informal network of analysts and practitioners aimed at creating a global community of practice around capacity development. Its objectives are to facilitate the sharing of lessons and distill quality criteria for good practice; promote research, share experiences, monitor outcomes and carry out other empirical work; foster country-level, regional and international dialogue and collaboration; promote the mainstreaming of capacity development issues into agency operations; and act as a key partner to advance the OECD/DAC’s capacity development agenda. URL: www.lencd.org
Capacity-Net is an informal and external knowledge network hosted and moderated by UNDP Capacity Development Group. The network was launched in February 2007 and currently has over 1,400 members. The network is open to development practitioners and experts who are interested and engaged in capacity development work. Members include UNDP staff, UN agencies, Government representatives, academic and research institutions, civil society, private sector, regional institutions, and members of the wider international development community. URL: www.undp.org/capacity/capacitynet.shtml