Rationalizing the Capacity Development Knowledge Architecture

Jeff Kwaterski, June 2010

Executive Summary

Capacity Development related knowledge is expanding rapidly.   Increased recognition of the strategic importance of capacity development has led donor and development agencies to increase the documentation of effective practices, production of training modules, publication of research, and the creation of professional communities of practice.  These diverse collections of information and expertise represent the growing knowledge base on capacity development.  There is a great amount of knowledge available from an expanding list of web sites, yet the main challenge limiting our individual and collective impact is that these web sites are still relatively fragmented and lacking significant connection to each other.

Research and Consultations

The research explored and identified how the rapidly evolving opportunities of the internet might be feasibly applied within the community of capacity development learning platforms and web sites—enabling a more rational and interconnected capacity development commons.

A second objective of the research was to explore the potential connections between recommended options and the proposed Africa Learning Platform on Capacity Development. 

Twenty-one people were consulted to gather their perspectives and recommendations on the opportunity for improving connections of the CD knowledge architecture.  This group included 12 capacity development thought leaders / platform coordinators and 9 technology / internet subject matter experts. (see complete list in the annex)


Over the two month period of May-June 2010, the consultative process identified actionable opportunities for improving an imperfect, fragmented architecture that will generate greater value and impact.  Five related recommendations are proposed:

  1. Build momentum with quick wins
  2. Establish a Capacity Development Content Aggregator
  3. Bring people together within an expanding capacity development “commons”
  4. Expand the capacity of the human network
  5. Integrate to the extent possible with the Africa Learning Platform on Capacity Development

There are many indications that this is an opportune moment to advance actions that will strengthen the connections among the primary international and regional sources of capacity development knowledge.  At the same time, it is important to build new relationships with Connectors that provide inroads into thematic / sector specific networks that also produce and demand quality capacity development content.  

Starting something, albeit modestly with the “low hanging fruit” of easily identifiable sources, and with largely free tools, will enable this somewhat abstract concept to come into clearer view for a more critical analysis of its validity and potential demand. The energy and enthusiasm mobilized by the creation of the Africa Learning Platform on Capacity Development provide a very compelling opportunity to unite this proposal to move this agenda forward during the second half of 2010.  There is a golden opportunity that should not be missed.