Voices of capacity development

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Publication Date: 
27 October 2011
Thematic thrusts: 

The Editorial Board of Capacity.org is pleased to announce the publication of Issue 43 of Capacity.org Journal, titled ‘Voices of Capacity Development’. It aims to make a practical contribution to the upcoming 4th High Level Forum on Aid Effectiveness in Busan by sharing the perspectives of a broad range of Southern leaders on how to support endogenous capacity development processes.

This issue builds on the observation that the concept of capacity development has not fully conquered the hearts and minds of a critical mass of policy makers and that there are even signs of “CD fatigue”. Although for those at the core of the CD community of practice it is obvious that the concept of capacity development with its in-built appreciation of endogenous systems and ownership is at the heart of the principles of the Paris Declaration, others still need to be convinced that thinking in terms of capacity development signifies a radical change in thinking about aid and aid effectiveness. This poses a challenge for the CD community to move beyond conceptualisation and highlight the difference the concept of CD can make if it is put to practice.

Through their diversity, the cases featured in Issue 43 convey a set of consistent messages and patterns:

  • Capacity development begins at home, building on local or domestic dynamics, ambition, leadership and commitment.
  • The starting point for local actors who drive capacity development efforts is to find ways to make meaningful contributions to positive social change rather than focusing on delivering the preset targets demanded by external partners.
  • Drivers of capacity development are able to mobilise multi-actor engagement for change, which generates legitimacy and provides the basis for a viable revenue model. The WASH movement in Nepal is funded by resources of the central government, the local government and the commitment of hundreds of volunteers. The main source of income for the Kenya Association of Manufacturers is membership subscriptions and the fees it gets for services. The Environmental Council of Zambia earns most of its income from government budget allocation and licensing fees.
  • The time it takes for capacity development to transform into better performance varies, and often does not correspond with a typical project cycle. Sometimes it may take more than ten years, while in other situations significant achievements can be realised in a much shorter time.