People Matter: An introduction to capacity development
The term capacity development gained prominence in the 1990s, in part due to the growing realization that providing technical solutions and/or funding are not sufficient in themselves to address most development challenges. This led to a renewed focus on the underlying human and organizational capabilities that need to be strengthened, through working more closely with the individuals, organizations and societies that were the intended beneficiaries of development support. As a conceptual approach, capacity development was also linked to the search for viable alternatives to the dominant 'top-down' aid model, by refocusing attention on the crucial role of local professionals and support structures (both governmental and non-governmental) in driving sustainable development.
Capacity development has been described variously as: “the ability [of an organization] to function as a resilient, strategic and autonomous entity” (Kaplan, 1999); “the ability of people, organizations and society as a whole to manage their affairs successfully” (OECD, 2006); or “the ability of a human system to perform, sustain itself and self-renew” (Ubels et al, Earthscan/SNV, 2010).
The emergence of the capacity development as a distinct field of thinking and practice has gone hand in hand with advances in human resources - and institutional – development, and can be distinguished by five important strands:
- training and human resources development
- participatory approaches
- organizational development
- policy and institutional development
- multi-actor processes and systems
The ‘essential readings’ section on the right, together with the specific literature provided in each topic page, are carefully selected in order to equip practitioners with a good overview of:
- definitions of capacity and its development;
- frameworks and models for understanding capacity development;
- the intervention repertoire (approaches, methods, tools, roles, attitudes) used in capacity development;
- empirical research findings and case studies that offer further guidance and lessons for day to day practice.
This article is a supplement to Issue 43 of Capacity.org. It takes a look behind the scenes of an extensive evaluation of 26 case studies covering the support to capacity development of seven Dutch Development Partners under the coordination and partial responsibility of the Policy and Operations Evaluation Department (IOB) of the Netherlands Ministry of Foreign affairs. The evaluation aimed to draw lessons on how to improve the effectiveness of future capacity development interventions.More
09 May 2013
The US Office of Community Services partners with states, communities and agencies to eliminate causes of poverty, increase self-sufficiency of individuals and families and revitalize communities. As part of its support role, OCS offers access to a wide range of learning tools on its website. These range from how to analyze data and communicate results, design outcome-oriented projects, develop collaborative platforms and implement value-driven donor development.More
08 January 2013
Despite donor commitments of more than $30 billion per year on capacity development activities, there is a lack of consensus regarding what these activities include and what results should be expected. Conventional monitoring and evaluation (M&E) systems regularly fail to capture the impact of such activities. As a result, development practitioners are deprived of the opportunity to learn which capacity development interventions are most effective in different situations.More
A new approach to guidance and evaluation of capacity development: background documents and case studies available
27 June 2012
Presentations and background documents discussed during the DEVCO event: "Capacity Development: a new approach to guidance and evaluation" that took place on 30-31 May 2012, are now available for download. The seminar explored the Capacity Development component of the revised Project and Programme Cycle Management (PPCM) guidance of the European Commission, which was developed during 2010 and 2011.More
24 March 2012
Case stories are an important and accessible way of sharing experiences and learning lessons. Many organisations publish case stories on their websites, but finding these stories has always required a good deal of research.
LenCD (Learning Network on Capacity Development), has been building up an index of case stories including material from the United Nations Development Programme, the Task Team on South–South Cooperation, SNV, the World Bank Institute, ECDPM, and other sources.
More than 500 case stories have now been catalogued and are searchable by country and by keyword on www.lencd.org/case-stories.More
18 March 2012
Few development organizations have the capacity to effectively evaluate their programmes. While there is broad agreement on the need to strengthen evaluation capacity, there has been little consensus so far on how to go about this. With this in mind, the Evaluation Capacity Development Group (ECDG) and the Joint Committee on Standards for Educational Evaluation (JCSEE) developed a proposal to create an International Workshop Agreement (IWA) on evaluation capacity development that has been approved by the International Standardization Organization (ISO). During a workshop in Geneva, Switzerland on 17-21 October 2011, ECDG brought together M&E practitioners and standards experts to create a voluntary, consensus-driven agreement towards this end. A report of the workshop, which was supported by IDRC, GIZ and the OECD/DAC Evaluation Network, is now available.More
09 December 2011
The purpose of this practitioner’s Guide is to provide practical guidance to UNDP staff, partner
countries and other development partners on the nature of environmental capacity and how to support
capacity development for environmental sustainability (cdes). the guide builds on undp’s Practice
Note on Capacity Development and Practice Note on Capacity Assessment and incorporates best
practices from cdes experience
to date. the main text of this guide presents the undp approach to cdes, including guiding principles, an analytical framework and a five-step process that can be adapted to various settings.
Ubels, J., N. Acquaye-Baddoo and A. Fowler (eds.) (2010) Capacity Development in Practice, Earthscan, UK
Kaplan, A. (1999) The Developing of Capacity, Community Development Resource Association, Cape Town, South Africa
Baser, H. and P. Morgan (2008) ‘Capacity, change and performance: Study report’, ECDPM Discussion Paper 59B, ECDPM: Maastricht
OECD (2006) The Challenge of Capacity Development: Working Towards Good Practice, Paris