In March 2011, a group of Southern and development partners endorsed the Cairo Consensus on Capacity Development, which states that “capacity development is strategic for the achievement of development results”. Departing from this, the statement below, aims at contributing to the current efforts to enhance results-based management by stressing the link to the underlying capacity that makes results sustainable. This statement has been endorsed by capacity development practitioners, through a consultative process organized by the Learning Network for Capacity Development (www.lencd.org).
- Sustainability of results matters: For decades, international cooperation focused on delivering tangible, short-term results – building schools, roads, health clinics etc. In far too many instances these results were not sustainable and did not have lasting impact because attention was not paid to strengthening the underlying broad capacities required to maintain and upscale services.
- Sustainable results of aid are premised on country capacity, ownership and partnership: To be effective for sustainable results aid and development cooperation must support country efforts rather than replace them, building on existing capacity and inclusive country ownership. In effective partnerships, all partners contribute to sustainable results, while being responsible for their own performance and jointly for the quality and effectiveness of the partnership.
- Results materialize at different levels, within different scopes and time-horizons – and they can be specified accordingly. Developing a policy for maternal health is a result at one level; strengthening the delivery capacity of the health system is a much higher level result, which requires longer-term investments. Results-orientation implies specifying the various levels of results, clarifying the corresponding reasonable expectations and time-scales of change.
- Capacity development is a critical part of the chain from short to longer-term sustainable results. Capacity development leads to visible, intermediate results, like stronger leadership for change. In the medium term, stronger capacity leads to enhanced performance in service delivery. Impact on people’s lives takes longer to materialize. Results at all these different levels can be identified and monitored.
- Managing for sustainable results requires flexibility and careful adaptation to the context. Results frameworks are most effective when they leave room for emergent capacity development, adaptation and flexibility. Capacity development is about change, and change processes are rarely linear and predictable, particularly in fragile situations.
- Results focus is critical for learning: Results-orientation in aid relationships often emphasize control more than feedback and learning. Capturing results from capacity development processes is foremost a means for feedback and learning about what works and in what circumstances, and so to improve understanding, practice – and results.
- Country leaders, managers and change agents are key for getting to results: Systems, frameworks and indicators can underpin results-based management, but cannot drive change. Balancing short and long term results realistically; and ensuring that services and capacities grow hand in hand depend, first and foremost, on the incentives, skills and values driving leaders, managers and change agents, in countries and development agencies. More attention is needed to these factors.
- Advancing results-focused capacity development is important for aid and development effectiveness. A global, nimble multi-partner facility should be established to provide resources for country level actors to advance results-focused capacity development, action research and peer-based learning.