Author: Thomas Dichter
Year: 2014
Full Citation: Dichter, T. (2014). The Capable Partners learning agenda on local organization capacity development. Washington DC: USAID – Capable Partners Program
Overview: This research report provides insight into the capacity development challenges of local organizations, with an emphasis on how their relationship with donors like USAID can become more fruitful and collaborative.
Methodology: To collect the data, the team interviewed 325 organizations (about 600 people) in nine countries – Sri Lanka, Morocco, Moldova, Jamaica, Peru, Nepal, Tanzania, Kenya and the Philippines, read about 250 articles, studies, papers and books on capacity development, conducted an Historical Study of USAID Institutional Partnerships, held eight formal and many informal meetings with various persons and departments in USAID involved in IPR (LS) 2 and Local Capacity Development (LCD). Drawing from the findings, they produced a set of ten Guidelines for USAID, 15 mini case studies, and network analysis (pp. 2 – 5).
Findings: The general findings are categorized into three main 3 themes: Country System Context, Nature and Life of Civil Society Organizations, and Capacity. Some of conclusions:
  • Changes in the developing world are accelerating faster than most aid donors can keep up with; The resulting “projectization” phenomenon has had some negative effects on the CSO life cycle; Many donors focus only on “1.0” kinds of capacities (the standard package of organizational procedures and structures modeled on the western firm – board governance rules, administrative systems, human resource manuals, strategic plans, M&E, etc.) yet there is no firm evidence that these are the crucial variables of success in development.; the critical "how" of capacity development for local organizations has to be internally motivated, real-world-problem-related, self-generated or peer-guided, and thus more spontaneous, more organic, and less structured than most donors would have it (pp. 12-13).
This report also provides recommendations on different approaches to assessing risk, different metrics to assess capacity, and especially the need to learn more about the capacities that seem to count most for effectiveness as an organization (p. 20).

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