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The challenges of capacity development in Africa

SARPN/UNDP workshop, 2 April 2003

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Turning Dilemmas into Opportunities
Insights for Capacity Development

Dr Carlos Lopez

From MS PowerPoint presentation:

What is capacity development?

The process by which individuals, institutions and societies develop abilities (individually and collectively) to perform functions, solve problems and set and achieve goals.

ODA doubled between 1969 and 1991, but has since experienced a decline

ODA doubled between 1969 and 1991, but has since experienced a decline

TC in Sub-Saharan Africa returns to levels of early 70s

TC in Sub-Saharan Africa returns to levels of early 70s

The share of TC in ODA receipts has risen dramatically for high income countries, but fallen for LDCs

The share of TC in ODA receipts has risen dramatically for high income countries, but fallen for LDCs

A New Paradigm for Capacity Development

  Current Paradigm New Paradigm
Nature of development Improvements in economic and social conditions Societal transformation, including building of “right capacities”
Conditions for effective development cooperation Good policies that can be externally prescribed home-grown
The asymmetric donor-recipient relationship Should be countered generally through a spirit of partnership and mutual respect Should be specifically addressed as a countervailing measures
Capacity development Human resource development, combined with stronger institutions Three cross-linked layers of apacity: individual, institutional and societal
Acquisition of knowledge Knowledge can be transferred Knowledge has to be acquired
Most important forms of knowledge Knowledge developed in the North for export to the South Local knowledge combined with knowledge acquired from other countries—in the South or the North

The capacity development layers

The capacity development layers

Part A: Turning dilemmas into opportunities: issues, potential & critical considerations

  1. Ownership as default setting for capacity development
  2. Integrating external cooperation into national systems and processes
  3. From perverse to positive incentives
  4. Revisiting the capacity development layers
Part B: A case book of experiences and lessons

50 plus case experiences on how capacity development can work in practice :
  • In a nutshell
  • The story
  • Results and critical factors
  • Further information
1. Ownership as default setting for capacity development
  • Capacity development as an endogenous process
  • Ownership and commitment
  • The aid relationship
  • Mindsets, interests and power
  • From good performers to difficult development contexts
Capacity development as an endogenous process
  • Capacity development takes place in every society
    • On individual, institutional and societal levels
    • It is voluntary, requiring motivation;
    • Takes time, not amenable to delivery pressures
    • Is case specific, blueprints generally do not work
  • Regulatory role of state is vital, bypassing not viable
  • Key capacities: e.g. strategizing, planning, implementation, monitoring progress, etc.
  • Underlying capacities: e.g. self-esteem, listening, leadership, process facilitation, conflict resolution, etc.
Ownership and commitment
  • “Scan globally, reinvent locally”
  • Salesmanship comes with high opportunity costs
  • Insist on full correspondence of external support with national priorities and processes
  • There are intended and unintended beneficiaries and stakeholders
  • Lack of commitment is a major reason for failure
  • Personal commitment and concrete action are positively interlinked; Leadership can be learned and developed.
The aid relationship
  • Change in aid architecture presents opportunity for capacity development
  • Correspondence between objectives based on Government responsibility to ensure credible strategies and policy environment
  • Delivery modalities make a difference: budget support and debt relief can ease the management burden
  • Recipient government can drive changes in the aid system
  • Integration into national systems is matter of choice and fit
Mindsets, interests and power

The most pervasive determinants:
  • Mindsets: vicious cycle of domination & disempowerment
  • Resource transfers generate vested interests on all sides
  • Gatekeepers guard power and privileges
A dynamic for change implies:
  • Acknowledging the architecture of vested interests
  • Simplify complexities that hide undue influence
  • Establish clear rules of engagement
  • Promote participation of new actors
  • Improve quality of discourse on divergent perspectives
  • Independent observation, facilitation, mediation
  • Turning around aid coordination mechanisms (NDF)
From good performers to difficult development contexts
  • Weak and fragile countries need more support and flexibility!
  • Capacity development principles are universal;
  • Specific operational response may be significantly different:
    • Distinguish transitional and long-term needs/opportunities (e.g. leap-froging administration gaps through ICT)
    • Protect/nurture social capital & promote democratic culture
    • Maintain pressure points on Gvt. to assume responsibility
    • Area development approach: local government
    • Scenario building can help change processes
    • Basic service delivery is an un-contentious entry point
    • External agents need to accept real coordination
    • Ensure accountability to the ultimate beneficiaries
2. Integrating external cooperation into national systems and processes
  • Policy dialogue and the framework for capacity development
  • Programming external cooperation
  • Implementing external cooperation
  • Monitoring: accountability versus control
Policy dialogue and the framework for capacity development
  • The policy environment is critical
  • Ownership requires convergence of donors around national priorities, processes and systems
  • Countries should insist on primacy of a single framework
  • Aid coordination is a strategic responsibility of national governments; this implies harmonizing with recipient not across donors
  • Current momentum for harmonization offers major opportunity for aid system reform
Programming external cooperation
  • Common interest of host country and donors to move to programmatic approaches
  • Rationalize and drastically simplify requirements for CPs and ProDocs; ICT applications can help
  • Capacity Assessment to be integral part of programming; Self- Capacity Assessment toolkit can help
  • Donors to respect national procedures (priority setting, approval, budgetary allotment, etc)
  • Recipients should refuse extra-budgetary cooperation when it undermines priorities or hides extra-costs
Implementing external cooperation
  • Execution is the responsibility of national institutions; arrangements need to leave space for national agency
  • Management skills help to ensure oversight, proper disbursement systems etc.
  • Parallel implementation structures (PIUs):
    • In countries firmly in the driver seat it is a sub-contracting like in the private sector, >>> little risk
    • In countries with weak capacities >>> high risk of overwhelming existing capacity
  • Gap filling without shame preferable to parallel structures
Monitoring: accountability versus control
  • Transparency is the best accountability base; monitoring is a primary tool for learning, adjusting to evolving conditions and strategic planning
  • Obsession with attribution undermines collective efforts
  • The use of PERs stretches beyond macro-economic policy; need to use it for learning and policy formulation
  • National accounting, reporting and assessment systems should replace whenever possible, multitude of procedures
  • Capacity for M&E to emerge from within national institutions
  • RBM at country level is empowering
Leadership is essential

3. From perverse to positive incentives
  • Incentives and development cooperation
  • Experts, consultants & advisory services
  • Procurement
  • Public service incentive systems
  • Corruption
  • Brain drain
  • Conditionality and selectivity
Incentives and development cooperation
  • Perverse incentives distort efforts to build mainstream capacity through fragmentation, parallel organizations processes and structures.
  • Turning the aid industry around cannot be accomplished without determined host government political leadership
  • Enormous progress has been done in many fronts but not linking development cooperation to incentives debate
Experts, consultants & advisory services
  • Experts are never free.  Sensible decisions require options.
  • Priority to market-based lessons for retaining talent and respecting prevailing labor market conditions
  • The new understandings of global knowledge sharing creates a completely different setting for the use of expertise
  • More innovative and cost-effective approaches include:
    short-term advisers, coaching models, local consultants, South-South cooperation, volunteers, institutional twinning; time-bound gap filling, costing of technical cooperation in national budget systems, independent oversight
  • Procurement transparency is central for a culture of accountability and cost-effectiveness.
  • Complex and diverse procedures overwhelm local agents
  • Unintended incentives undermine capacity development through the disguise of good procurement
  • Procurement policies have to explicitly address capacity
  • Establish minimum international standards
  • Demystifying and de-personalizing government reduce areas of discretion through transparent but simplified systems
Public service incentive systems
  • Sense of history is often forgotten when assessing civil service shortcomings
  • Factors undermining capacity include low remuneration, skewed recruitment and promotion criteria, far-reaching compression of salary differentials and downsizing
  • Donor salary supplements, travel and meeting allowances etc. drain the public service from its most able employees and reduce the motivation for a comprehensive reform
  • Catalogue of solutions from preferable to unacceptable presented
  • CD fails without anti-corruption effort
  • Focus on prevention (fostering positive values, professionalism, meritocracy, transparency, disclosure, external accountability)
  • Monitoring of bureaucratic obligations and performance, supported by independent investigators, prosecutors
  • Government & civil society can partner for collective action
  • Transparency eliminates immunity of high public officials.
  • Channels for effective complaint making or whistle blowing
Brain drain

There are challenges and opportunities.Measures can include:
  • Reversing push factors with pull measures for return migration
  • Strengthening national capacity to monitor, evaluate, and respond to the emigration of the highly-skilled
  • Tapping remittances and investment potential
  • Gearing educational system to use migration positively if unavoidable
  • Increasing cooperation between sending and receiving countries; a more organized migrant flow in countries that benefit from remittances and traditionally prefer migration
Conditionality and selectivity
  • Conditionality is facing a credibility problem
  • Tailoring targets to country circumstances not enough ( typically more conditions apply to weaker countries)
  • PRSPs provide opportunity to claim back ownership. (“country-driven, results-oriented, comprehensive, prioritized, partnership-oriented and based on a long-term perspective”)
  • PRSPs can contribute to country efforts to attain nationally customized Millennium Development Goals
  • Open dialogue and trust are essential to not devalue the PRSP as yet another donor requirement to gain access to resources
4. Revisiting the capacity development layers
  1. Human resource development
  2. Institution building
  3. Civic engagement
  4. The global dimension
Human resource development
  • Capacity development starts with education.
  • Universal primary education is the foundation (MDG)
  • Secondary level attuned to network age, retain students at the secondary level through scholarship programs
  • Primary & secondary level public education preferable
  • Tertiary education linked to labor market demands,  R & D, fellowship retention, action learning, private sector funding
  • ‘Software’ as important as ‘hardware’
  • Education plays major role in crisis (HIV/AIDS) or conflict
Institution building
  • The reasons why some institutions grow and others cannot are sometimes obscure.
  • Externally induced processes, without strong roots in local reality unduly simplify complexity.
  • Essential developments in private sector and management science now being mainstreamed in the development arena.
  • Important trends include:
    • central role of knowledge sharing
    • leadership development
    • process consulting and strategy formulation with participatory techniques
Civic engagement
  • Civic engagement is the foundation of societal capacity, or collective self-confidence and self-esteem
  • Civic engagement has been tested at micro-level but needs to be up scaled to the macro-level
  • Civic engagement can be promoted through:
    • Inclusion of non-state actors in development initiatives
    • Information sharing strategies
    • Reinforce citizen's capacity to play informed roles
    • Civic oversight (political, economic, cultural & moral)
  • Attitudes, mindsets and language used can undermine confidence as much as processes and activities.
The global dimension

Global trends influence CD:
  • New aid architecture and financing for development
  • Trade and investment negotiations
  • Migration challenges
  • HIV-AIDS pandemic
  • Digital divide
Default Principles for Capacity Development
  1. Think and act in terms of sustainable capacity outcomes!
  2. Don’t rush! Capacity development is a long-term process.
  3. Scan locally and globally and reinvent locally!
  4. Use existing capacities rather than creating new ones!
  5. Integrate external inputs into national priorities, processes & systems!
  6. Establish positive incentives for capacity development!
  7. Challenge mindsets and power differentials!
  8. Stay engaged in difficult circumstances!
  9. Stay accountable to ultimate beneficiaries!
  10. Respect the value system and foster self-esteem!

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