The Review, looking at how we will define our future objectives for working with Civil Society Organisations (CSOs), as well as associated approaches and instruments for our partnership model is gathering momentum. We’re now into week 3 of our engagement with you online: we’re focusing this week on effective collaboration and partnerships.
Coalesce for success?
There is substantial discussion in development literature about capacity development, but little consensus about what it is, and how to measure it. I think it is important to build capacity across a sector, rather than simply the capacity of individual organisations. This can be done by supporting a network(s) of organisations, or bringing organisations together to coalesce around resolving a specific issue that affects them. By doing this donors could better ensure that a range of actors from all levels, contexts and backgrounds start to develop their own capacity through resolving ‘popular’ or ‘common’ problems.
Do you agree? Do you have examples of where this has worked, and why did you think it was so successful? Have you seen situations where this hasn’t worked, and what could have been done differently to make it successful?
2+2 = a) 3, b) 4, c) 5?
I believe partnerships, networks and collaborations are critical to develop capacity, but do you agree? Should this always be the case? Is it always true that the whole is greater than the sum of its parts? Can we put 2 and 2 together to get 5, or does this create more problems than it solves? Should donors support the development of existing networks and coalitions of CSO partners at all levels, be that local, national and international, to increase capacity? If so, how and at which level is best for donors to engage with? If not, what should be done instead?
Do I measure capacity in kilometres, kilogrammes or volts?
The World Bank Institute’s ‘The Capacity Development Results Framework’ suggests in recent years, around a quarter of donor aid, or more than $20bn a year, has gone into technical cooperation, the bulk of which is aimed at capacity development. The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development's Development Assistance Committee (OECD-DAC) has stated despite the magnitude of these inputs, evaluation results confirm development of sustainable capacity remains one of the most difficult areas of international development practice. But how can capacity be measured: how far an organisation has come; how ‘heavy-weight’ and organisation is compared to before; or how much power an organisation can bring to bear? Let us know your thoughts.
Most official definitions of capacity development are very broad. The World Bank finds this lack of clarity makes it extremely difficult to evaluate the outcome of such work and understand its impact. Do you agree? What can we each of us do to resolve this issue? Tell us your thoughts in the comment section below.
The World Bank Institute sums up the problem in their Capacity Development Results Framework, in practical terms: ‘Most efforts at capacity development remain fragmented, making it difficult to capture cross-sectoral influences and to draw general conclusions. Many capacity development activities are not founded on rigorous needs assessments and do not include appropriate sequencing of measures aimed at institutional or organisational change and individual skill building. What is needed is a more comprehensive and sustained approach, one that builds a permanent capacity to manage sectors and deliver services. Finally, better tools are needed to track, monitor, and evaluate capacity development efforts.’
Comment, share and give us your thoughts
We’d love to see your responses and ideas around these questions. Feel free to respond to other comments whether expressing agreement or an alternative view. Please take the survey for this theme and circulate this to your colleagues, contacts and networks. This survey will remain open until 11 September. If you haven’t taken the first 2 surveys yet, you have until 28 August to complete the first and until 4 September to complete the second.
If you’d like to know more about the review check out our webpage, follow @DFID_Inclusive on Twitter and use #DFIDCSPR to get involved. You can also participate in the DFID and Bond co-hosted Twitterchat this Thursday from 13.00 and follow Matt on Twitter.
We won't be able to offer personal responses to each and every comment, however, we can promise they will be read and considered during the review. Please do not submit written submissions concerning the Lines of Enquiry to the review team, as we are unable to commit to reviewing these. For this reason, it is essential to engage with our blogs and surveys embedded in them.