Stopping As Success: Capacity development in international transitions: can it be used to shift the norm?

Grace Boone, CDA Collaborative Learning

Created 05/30/2019



In this article, Grace Boone of CDA Collaborative Learning, part of the “Stopping As Success” consortium, discusses capacity development in transitions, particularly focusing on the theme of psycho-social support for local actors given on behalf of INGOs during the transition. 

“Local staff [of INGOs] were critical and young. They clashed with the approaches of INGOs and considered models to be too patronizing… They wanted INGOs to empower them rather than be paternalistic.”- Local academic, Colombia

Cross-Case Analysis: One Important, But Uncommon, Type of ‘Capacity Development’

Capacity development is a theme that appears throughout the 20 case studies documented by the SAS consortium to explore exit strategies and transitions in different environments. Whether it is through operational support, team building, or technical trainings, both INGOs and local actors develop each other’s capacity during and after exits and transitions.

A surprising, yet salient component of capacity development in the cases has been the importance of psycho-social or moral support, such as empowerment, team building, and confidence building, on behalf of INGOs in order for local actors to feel confident to lead their own organization post-exit. In some cases, this support was valued more, in retrospect, than technical workshops. As noted in one case study in Georgia: “Moral, psychological, and knowledge-sharing support can be more important than financial during the transition.”

When SAS held an online consultation in 2017 that convened 95 participants from over 40 countries, the participants noted the power imbalance within capacity development:

“Bringing in experts necessarily implies that outsiders have the knowledge that local people are lacking and should receive. Hence people who should be developed start from the position of disadvantage, thereby legitimizing the inequality… and further reinforcing it through the explicit authority of professional experience.” – Edward Mungu

 “Much of the capacity development we implement is geared towards complying with donor requirements, be it in terms of administration, project design and implementation, or technical skills.” – Gonzalo Delgado

Acknowledging this power imbalance, the SAS consortium is eager to learn more about collaborative empowerment and partnership during transitions in regard to capacity development.

Understanding ‘Empowerment’ During Transitions…

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