Capacity building often refers to assistance which is provided to entities, usually
developing countrysocieties, which have a need to develop a certain skill or competence, or for general upgrading of performance ability. Most capacity is built by societies themselves, sometimes in the public, sometimes in the non-governmental and sometimes in the private sector. Many international organizations, often of the UN-family, have provided capacity building as a part of their programmes of technical cooperation with their member countries. Bilaterally funded entities and private sector consulting firms or non-governmental organizations, called ( NGOs) have also offered capacity building services. Sometimes NGOs, in developing countries are themselves recipients of capacity building.
Capacity Building is, however, not limited to international aid work. More recently, capacity building is being used by government to transform community and industry approaches to social and environmental problems.
The lead within the UN system for action and thinking in this area was given to UNDP and it has offered guidance to its staff and governments on what was then called institution building since the early 1970's. This involved building up the ability of basic national organisations, in areas such as civil aviation, meteorology, agriculture, health, nutrition to do their tasks well. All UN specialised agencies were supposed to be active in support of capacity building in the areas for which they were technically qualified e.g. FAO for the rural sector and agriculture, WHO for health etc, but they achieved mixed results. USAID UK/DFID and some of the Nordic donors were also active in the area as were some of the Soviet bloc countries.
By 1991 the term had evolved and become 'capacity building'. UNDP defined 'capacity building' as "the creation of an enabling environment with appropriate policy and legal frameworks, institutional development, including community participation (of women in particular), human resources development and strengthening of managerial systems", adding that, "UNDP recognizes that capacity building is a long-term, continuing process, in which all stakeholders participate (ministries, local authorities, non-governmental organizations and water user groups, professional associations, academics and others". ( [http://www.undp.org/ citation: UNDP] ).
By 1998 the UN General Assembly had commissioned and received evaluations of the impact of the UN system's support for capacity building. These evaluations were carried out as part of the UN General Assembly's triennial policy review during which it looks at and provides overall guidance of all UN system development activities. For further details see UN publications available on line at http://www.un.org/esa/coordination/Capacity_Building_supported_by_the_UN.pdfand http://www.un.org/esa/coordination/Capacity_Building_for_Poverty_Eradication.pdf
WCOdefines capacity building as "activities which strengthen the knowledge, abilities, skills and behaviour of individuals and improve institutional structures and processes such that the organization can efficiently meet its mission and goals in a sustainable way."It is, however, important to put into consideration the principles that govern community capacity building.
Capacity Building is much more than training and includes the following:
* Human resource development, the process of equipping individuals with the understanding, skills and access to information, knowledge and training that enables them to perform effectively.
* Organizational development, the elaboration of management structures, processes and procedures, not only within organizations but also the management of relationships between the different organizations and sectors (public, private and community).
* Institutional and legal framework development, making legal and regulatory changes to enable organizations, institutions and agencies at all levels and in all sectors to enhance their capacities ( [http://www.gdrc.org/ citation: Urban Capacity Building Network] ).It also interfaces with some work by the New Institutional Economics association led notably by the 1994 Nobel prize winner Douglass North. It tries to lay out the essential organisational and institutional prerequisites for economic and social progress ( See the paper by North, Wallis and Weingast) modestly entitled 'A conceptual framework for interpreting recorded human history', NBER working paper 12795, www.nber.org/papers/w12795.
Capacity building is defined as the "process of developing and strengthening the skills, instincts, abilities, processes and resources that organizations and communities need to survive, adapt, and thrive in the fast-changing world." (Ann Philbin, Capacity Building in Social Justice OrganizationsFord Foundation, 1996)
For organizations, capacity building may relate to almost any aspect of its work: improved governance, leadership, mission and strategy, administration (including human resources, financial management, and legal matters), program development and implementation, fundraising and income generation, diversity, partnerships and collaboration, evaluation, advocacy and policy change, marketing, positioning, planning, etc. For individuals, capacity building may relate to leadership development, advocacy skills, training/speaking abilities, technical skills, organizing skills, and other areas of personal and professional development. ("Evaluation of Capacity Building: Lessons from the Field" by Deborah Linnell, published by the Alliance for Nonprofit Management)
Capacity building is the elements that give fluidity, flexibility and functionality of a program/organization to adapt to changing needs of the population that is served.
The Municipality of
Rosario, Batangas, Philippinesprovided a concrete example related to this concept. This municipal government implemented its Aksyon ng Bayan Rosario 2001 And BeyondHuman and Ecological Security Plan using as a core strategy the Minimum Basic Needs Approach to Improved Quality of Life - Community-Based Information System (MBN-CBIS) prescribed by the Philippine Government.
This approach helped the municipal government identify priority families and communities for intervention, as well as rationalize the allocation of its social development funds. More importantly, it made definite steps to encourage community participation in situation analysis, planning, monitoring and evaluation of social development projects by building the capacity of local government offcials, indigenous leaders and other stakeholders to converge in the management of these concerns.
List of development aid agencies
Partial List of Agencies Providing Capacity Building
International Monetary Fund(IMF)
United Nations Development Programme(UNDP)
Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations(FAO)
* [http://topics.developmentgateway.org/capacitydevelopment Development Gateway, Capacity Building Community Site (Jointly sponsored by UNDP and the World Bank)]
* [http://www.inwent.org InWEnt - Capacity Building International]
* [http://www.eurocapacity.org European Capacity Building Initiative]
* [http://www.adb.org Asian Development Bank (ADB)]
* [http://www.gtz.de Deutsche Gesellschaft für Technische Zusammenarbeit (GTZ)]
* [http://www.ded.de Deutscher Entwicklungsdienst (DED)]
* [http://www.isaaa.org International Service for the Acquisition of Agri-biotech Applications (ISAAA)]
* [http://www.ets.org/etsglobal Educational Testing Service]
* [http://www.caah.chw.edu.au NSW Centre for the Advancement of Adolescent Health]
* [http://capaciteria.org/ Capaciteria: Free Online Capacity Resource for Nonprofits]
* [http://www.bccb.info/ Business Coalition for Capacity Building]
* [http://www.ustr.gov/Trade_Development/Trade_Capacity_Building/Section_Index.html/ US Trade Representative]
* [http://www.undp.org/ Official UNDP web site]
* [http://www.capacity.org/ Capacity Building Portal]
* [http://www.ucbp-ethiopia.com/ University Capacity Building Program, Ethiopia]
* [http://www.myrosariobatangas.com Rosario Batangas Philippines Website]
* [http://barriotikman.googlepages.com The Outward Man]
* [http://www.rmponweb.org RMP Knowledge Excellence Centre]
* Jonathan Peizer (2005) [http://www.technologyforsocialchange.org/ "The Dynamics of Technology for Social Change, Understanding the Factors that Influence Results: Lessons Learned from the Field "] - ISBN 0-595-37274-0.
* Nancy Barnes and Abdelkarim Asa'd (2003) http://www.jwu.org/guide/english/start_en.htm "Jerusalem Water Undertaking - A Challenging Experience in Organization Development - A Guidebook"
* Deborah Linnell (2003). "Evaluation of Capacity Building: Lessons from the Field". Washington, DC: [http://www.allianceonline.org/ Alliance for Nonprofit Management] .
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