Capacity building

Capacity building

Capacity building often refers to assistance which is provided to entities, usually developing country societies, 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". ( [ 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

The WCO defines 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 ( [ 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,

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, Philippines provided a concrete example related to this concept. This municipal government implemented its Aksyon ng Bayan Rosario 2001 And Beyond Human 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.

ee also

* International Development
* Development aid
* List of development aid agencies

Partial List of Agencies Providing Capacity Building

* World Bank
* International Monetary Fund (IMF)
* United Nations Development Programme (UNDP)
* Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO)
* Non-governmental organizations
* [ Development Gateway, Capacity Building Community Site (Jointly sponsored by UNDP and the World Bank)]
* [ InWEnt - Capacity Building International]
* [ European Capacity Building Initiative]
* [ Asian Development Bank (ADB)]
* [ Deutsche Gesellschaft für Technische Zusammenarbeit (GTZ)]
* [ Deutscher Entwicklungsdienst (DED)]
* [ International Service for the Acquisition of Agri-biotech Applications (ISAAA)]
* [ Educational Testing Service]
* [ NSW Centre for the Advancement of Adolescent Health]

External links

* [ Capaciteria: Free Online Capacity Resource for Nonprofits]
* [ Business Coalition for Capacity Building]
* [ US Trade Representative]
* [ Official UNDP web site]
* [ Capacity Building Portal]
* [ University Capacity Building Program, Ethiopia]
* [ Rosario Batangas Philippines Website]
* [ The Outward Man]
* [ RMP Knowledge Excellence Centre]


* Jonathan Peizer (2005) [ "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) "Jerusalem Water Undertaking - A Challenging Experience in Organization Development - A Guidebook"

* Deborah Linnell (2003). "Evaluation of Capacity Building: Lessons from the Field". Washington, DC: [ Alliance for Nonprofit Management] .

Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • capacity building — /kəˈpæsəti bɪldɪŋ/ (say kuh pasuhtee bilding) noun the development of the skills and competencies of people in a government, organisation, etc., to enable them to achieve their stated goals …   Australian-English dictionary

  • Capacity Development — Capacity is defined as: “the ability of individuals, institutions and societies to perform functions, solve problems, and set and achieve objectives in a sustainable manner.” Capacity development (CD) is thereby the “process through which these… …   Wikipedia

  • Capacity management — is a process used to manage information technology (IT). Its primary goal is to ensure that IT capacity meets current and future business requirements in a cost effective manner. One common interpretation of Capacity Management is described in… …   Wikipedia

  • Building insulation — refers broadly to any object in a building used as insulation for any purpose. Whilst the majority of insulation in buildings is for thermal purposes, the term also applies to acoustic insulation, fire insulation, and impact insulation. Often an… …   Wikipedia

  • Building Schools for the Future — (BSF) is the name of the UK Government s investment programme in secondary school buildings in England. The program is very ambitious in its costs, timescales and objectives, with politicians from all parties supportive of the principle but… …   Wikipedia

  • building construction — Techniques and industry involved in the assembly and erection of structures. Early humans built primarily for shelter, using simple methods. Building materials came from the land, and fabrication was dictated by the limits of the materials and… …   Universalium

  • Building insulation materials — A selection of insulation materials can aid in building insulation. All of these are based on standard principles of thermal insulation. Materials used to reduce heat transfer by conduction, radiation or convection are employed in varying… …   Wikipedia

  • capacity — [[t]kəpæ̱sɪti[/t]] ♦♦♦ capacities 1) N VAR: oft with poss, N for n/ ing, N to inf Your capacity for something is your ability to do it, or the amount of it that you are able to do. Our capacity for giving care, love and attention is limited...… …   English dictionary

  • Building information modeling — (BIM) is the process of generating and managing building data during its life cycle[1]. BIM involves representing a design as objects – vague and undefined, generic or product specific, solid shapes or void space oriented (like the shape of a… …   Wikipedia

  • Building design — This article is about the design of buildings. For the UK magazine, see Building Design. Building design refers to the broadly based architectural, engineering and technical applications to the design of buildings. All building projects require… …   Wikipedia

Share the article and excerpts

Direct link
Do a right-click on the link above
and select “Copy Link”