Unfinished Agenda or Overtaken by Events? Applying Aid- and Development- Effectiveness Principles to Capacity Development Support

Niels Keijzer
Deutsches Institut für Entwicklungspolitik
Year of publication: 

This paper analyses to what extent the aid- and development- effectiveness agenda has been applied in the area of capacity development support (CDS), with a specific focus on the use of developing-country systems. The paper is based on a literature review and a limited number of semi-structured interviews, as well as a review of available research evidence on CDS practices in Mozambique, Nepal, Rwanda and Vietnam.

Three main conclusions are drawn from this paper. First of all, available research confirms that aid- and development-effectiveness achievements in the area of capacity development have been slow and disappointing, owing to reform-resistance of key stakeholders involved.  Second, considerable potential remains to strengthen the effectiveness of CDS by further adapting approaches to design, deliver and evaluate interventions in reference to key aidand development-effectiveness principles. Third, a lack of disaggregation of statistics and low levels of investment in evaluation inhibits learning and accountability, and ultimately the improvement of capacity development results.

Based on the analysis presented here, four windows of opportunity are identified as means to improve the effectiveness of external support. First, development partners should decentralise the programming of CDS to their embassies and country representations. Second, active efforts should be made to demystify the support by identifying concrete objectives, improving evaluations and making these publicly available. Third, implementation of the first two recommendations would allow for further disaggregating the OECD/DAC reporting on technical cooperation and allow for separating genuine CDS from projects with other relevant purposes. Fourth, the desk research conducted on developing country management of support confirms that further empirical research in this area can further inform the concretisation and implementation of these recommendations and play a role in improving the effectiveness of support.