Nurturing capacity in developing countries: from consensus to practice

Govindan G. Nair, Lead Economist, The World Bank Institute
Year of publication: 

There is an emerging consensus that capacity building in developing countries must shift from supply-side, donor-driven to demand-led approaches. Three areas in which this is critical are evaluation capacity, the availability of skilled individuals, and aid management.

An effective demand-led approach requires fostering a transparent evaluation culture, focused on poverty impacts and involving participatory approaches. The approach to skilled resources must move from skills acquisition to the retention and use of skills, using the resources of the diaspora, tackling incentives and addressing issues that discourage retention of skills. Recipient countries need to be placed in the “driver’s seat” to manage and coordinate external assistance. There is no single clear path to achievement of these goals. With vigorous political commitment and conducive recipient country circumstances it can take time, and even significant institutional capacity will wither if the governance environment is weak.