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Capacity Development and Information Sharing  

Institutional Capacity can be defined as the full range of qualities necessary for an institution to function correctly. The institutional capacity of a River Basin Organisation is therefore the full range of qualities necessary for adequate response to the complex and dynamic issues associated with transboundary water management. Capacity development is a means of creating institutional capacity.

Chapter Summary

This chapter covers the following areas:

Training session on water management for members of Water and Sanitation Groups.
Source: Tump 2006
( click to enlarge )

Introduction to Capacity Development

Capacity development can be defined as:

“A process whereby people or organisations acquire the skills and resources needed to meet their goals and sustain their own social and economic progress" (CIDA 2000).

In an institutional context, capacity development depends on the quality of the institutions themselves, and the enabling environment the institutions exist within. This may include incentives and good governance practices (OECD 2006).

Effective capacity development needs to assess requirements at different levels, including the individual, the organisational and the institutional framework levels.

  • The individual level concerns the development of human resource capacities e.g. through training programmes;
  • The organisational level concerns the development of the organisational capacity e.g. mandates, structure and procedures of a particular organisation; and
  • The institutional framework level concerns the development of an overall system, and this includes national laws, policies and guidelines.

An implication of capacity development is that:

“People, instead of plans or structures, are drivers for change and performance.”

Pres 2008

Capacity development is a long term process that includes training, dialogue, networking and advisory services (InWEnt 2006). It requires a flexible approach, adapted and customised to meet organisational and individual needs.

Capacity Development Steps

The OECD (2006) outlines four main steps involved in capacity development:

  1. Understanding the International and Country Contexts: Understanding the contexts sheds light on the enabling environment and the incentive structures within a country. Conducting an institutional analysis, power analysis or drivers of change analysis, as well as analysing the role of external and internal stakeholders can help provide information on the context for capacity development at the country and individual levels.
  2. Identifying and Supporting Sources of Country-Owned Change: Countries must lead capacity development initiatives. Capacity assessments should focus on answering the question “capacity development for what” rather than supporting generic capacity development programs. There must be high level commitment to policy frameworks for capacity development and activities should focus on building the capacity of organisations that will have the highest impact and generate spill-over benefits to other organisations and individuals.
  3. Delivering Support: The effectiveness of capacity development initiatives is enhanced by understanding the institutional constraints and by ensuring that there is a common vision for capacity development outcomes. Engaging the skills and resources of a wide range of national organisations is important, e.g.  Non-Governmental Organisations, think tanks and the private sector. Capacity development must involve not only skill creation, but also organisational and institutional changes may be required to effectively put into practice the new skills and resources.
  4. Learning from Experiences and Sharing Lessons: Capacity development initiatives should build upon the lessons learned at each of the three levels of capacity development: individual, organisational and enabling environment, with a particular emphasis on the enabling environment. Monitoring of the intended outcomes of programs is critical to understanding program effectiveness at both the individual and organisational levels.

Key references for more information on capacity development, guidelines and needs assessments can be accessed at the OECD Website.




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