!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD XHTML 1.0 Strict//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/xhtml1/DTD/xhtml1-strict.dtd"> Streamline Training & Documentation: The Components of Capacity Building

Saturday, December 12, 2009

The Components of Capacity Building

I'm always on the lookout for materials that clarify central concepts in the training area. One such concept, important in work aimed at reducing poverty in developing countries, is capacity building.1 The training materials placed online by the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) mentioned in my last two posts include a paper (pdf) on policy processes that has a helpful section on the components of capacity building in irrigated agriculture.

Olivier Dubois, an FAO consultant, explains the three levels of capacity development:
Level I, the enabling environment, represents the broad national and international context within which irrigated agriculture can develop. It is concerned with policy at the highest levels in government, the socio-economic conditions that enable or constrain development and the legal framework that provides, for example farmers with security of tenure for land and water and the power to seek legal redress when contracts are broken. This level can have immense influence over what happens at the lower levels. It is often given insufficient attention, particularly in project interventions, because it is seen as too difficult and diffuse to address.

Level II is the organizational level, which refers to the wide range of organizations involved in irrigation such as water user organizations, research groups, government extension agencies and private companies that share common objectives such as improved livelihoods at the farming level, improved water management or increased agricultural productivity at a national level. The capacity of an organization is embedded in the ability of its individuals to work together within established rules and values and to interact with other organizations.

Level III, the individual level, is the most structured and familiar part of capacity development and includes education and training of the various stakeholders, from farmers to local professionals.
Dubois goes on to enumerate the components of each level:

Level I — Environment
  • Policy framework

  • Legal and regulatory framework

  • Management accountability

  • Resources

  • Processes and relationships
Level II — Organization
  • Strategic management

  • Culture/structure

  • Processes

  • Human resources

  • Resources – financial

  • Resources – information

  • Infrastructure

  • Interrelationships
Level III — Individual
  • Job skills and needs

  • Professional development

  • Access to information

  • Performance/incentives

  • Values/attitudes/motivation

  • Relationships/interdependence

  • Professional integrity

  • Communication skills
With this enumeration of the levels and components of capacity development, policymakers have a schema for analyzing where significant gaps exist that need to be addressed in order to achieve real progress in improving agriculture in poor areas of the world.

Dubois' section on capacity development includes additional guidance, e.g., on conditions that make it difficult to develop capacity and conditions that are favorable to capacity development. The section is well worth reading in its entirety.

1 Some previous posts touching on capacity building are here, here, here, here, here, here, and here.


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