Capacity development, learning, change, poverty/power/progress
(I wrote this blogpost together with Nicolette Mathijssen, was published on 17 March 2011 for an upcoming online discussion "Capacity: on the brink of maturity?" in The Broker)
Ownership is an important issue in Capacity Development (CD) processes. People and organisations don’t develop simply because an outsider believes it needs to happen. This argument is almost too basic to make. Yet, our studies into CD investments at the sub-national level clearly show how little ownership actually exists.
In striving for localisation of CD services to organizations operating at the sub-national level - such as the lower tiers of government, local NGOs, and Small and Medium Enterprises - SNV Netherlands Development Organisation studied the current provision of CD services from a market perspective: Who asks for CD interventions (users) and who responds (providers)?
In Lao PDR, we found that the Government is the main user (42.8%), with very few CD services (6.3%) going to provincial and district levels. Data from Pakistan showed that 70% of health organisations in a remote district of Punjab province had not accessed any CD services in the past two years, and the remaining 30% accessed only once. The provincial capital Lahore represented a more dynamic market, with access in the past two years of up to 5 times. Research from the UNDP-SNV partnership in 5 Asian countries confirms this alarming picture: poverty reduction efforts need to be delivered by sub-national actors, and yet these organizations benefit least of all from CD investments.
In the HIV/AIDS sector in Vietnam our research noted that CD services are purchased by international actors on behalf of the end users. Needs and supply of CD services are determined externally, with little input from users and little awareness of their actual needs. Similarly in Lao PDR, we concluded that the end users and service providers only meet at delivery time. While there may be country ownership of the CD agenda, there is very little ownership of CD services with the sub-national users. What comes out strongly is that the latter have little choice about the development of their capacity, except ‘stay away’, which they actually do at times as anecdotal evidence from donors themselves suggests. Should we then be surprised about persistent complaints that the main benefits of CD events are ‘sitting allowances'?
To anchor ownership of CD processes more firmly at the sub-national level, so that we boost the results of CD interventions, stakeholders that engaged with us in these market surveys have suggested to tackle the following urgently:
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