Capacity Development of Central State Institutions in Fragile Situations

This new report from the Danish Institute for International Studies analyses foreign aid to capacity development in central state institutions in fragile situations. The report discusses five cases with relatively successful outcomes in Afghanistan, Rwanda, Sierra Leone, Liberia and South Sudan.

These cases show that interventions tend to succeed if they fit well the given situation and context (donor, sector, conflict etc.). This does not imply conforming to the context. In some cases the initiative, which seems to fit the context, may be one that finds a window of opportunity to confront specific malfunctions.

Several issues appear vital for change to occur.  First, there has to be strong motivation for capacity development to occur. Second, people are central to institutional change and there is a need to pay close attention both internal and external staff. Third, working with the external relations and environment of an institution may lead to a push for institutional change. Finally, there is a need to balance change in formal systems and procedures with alteration of internal hierarchies and power relations.