Resources: processes, tools, and techniques

Anne E Casey Foundation


  • Integrating Capacity Development into Country Programs and Operations: Medium-Term Framework and Action Plan. 2007 In 2004, the Asian Development Bank (ADB) adopted capacity development as a thematic priority. By doing so, ADB acknowledged that strengthened country capacity is not only a means to achieve public sector performance but a goal in its own right. A working group was established to develop an operational medium-term framework and budgeted action plan to enhance the effectiveness, efficiency, and sustainability of ADB-supported capacity development interventions. This report summarizes the findings and recommendations of the working group.
  • Practical Guide to Capacity Development in a Sector Context working draft May 2008

The Barefoot Collective

Boesen, Nils


  • Danish Development Cooperation’s Results-Oriented Approach to Capacity Development which demonstrates a means-end linkage between a sector vision and what is labelled the “capacity development results”: the internal capacity and the actual performance of an organization or a network of organizations. This approach underlines the importance of context and of internal resources to successful CD processes. The governance arrangements for an organization, sector or area are also an important consideration.


  • A Platform Approach to Improving Public Financial Management. 2005 This briefing note is one of a set. Together they provide good practice guidance to assist country offices in working with partner countries to strengthen their public financial management & accountability systems
  • How to provide Technical Cooperation personnel. How to Note The purpose of this paper is to improve the impact of DFIDs Technical Cooperation (TC). It is aimed at country offices but may also be useful for other parts of DFID that are involved in TC. It takes the reader through the different stages of TC, from identification and design to procurement and monitoring, and provides a set of good practice principles that should be applied across these. The common thread is for partners to have a central role at all stages and to lead TC policy and implementation where there is capacity.

DIPLO Foundation

  • Specific experience and methodology e-learning/blended training + continuity and sustainability through moderation of COP (Swiss)


  • Joint Evaluation Study on Promising Approaches to TA 2007.  This study was commissioned to contribute to the current discussions on aid effectiveness and capacity development by learning about what works in relation to the deployment of technical-assistance (TA) personnel, and to see what initiatives/reforms are being taken to improve practice. The report draws on the findings of three country studies conducted in Mozambique, Solomon Islands and Vietnam, a workshop held in Maastricht in May 2007, as well as a review of the wider literature, earlier summarised in the study’s inception report.

Europe Aid



  • Capacity WORKS is GIZ’s management model for sustainable development. It operationalises our approach to managing and steering complex projects and programmes. The model delivers effective capacity development support by sustainably improving the performance capability of people, organisations and social institutions with which we cooperate worldwide.


  • Capacity assessment handbook (2008) This handbook describes the framework and methods for capacity assessment at a sector level in a practical manner (mainly focused on technical cooperation). It gives perspectives an d ways of thinking and also examines better modalities for cooperation, including various practices of other donors as well as capacity assessment that deepens understanding of current state of a sector

Managing for Development Results

  • SourceBook Managing for development results (MfDR) requires leadership to set and achieve goals. More specifically, a serious MfDR process requires committed individuals willing to spend political capital to reform entrenched systems, shape a shared vision of the future, and improve government performance. These are not flashy causes, and they take time to accomplish. They require leaders with the integrity to persist in the face of challenges. The Third Edition of the Sourcebook on Emerging Good Practice in Managing for Development Results is one of the products of the OECD-DAC Joint Venture on Managing for Development Results. The Joint Venture is a group of partner country representatives and bilateral and multilateral donors working together to exchange ideas on global trends in managing for development results (MfDR).


  • Principles for Good International Engagement in Fragile States and Situations (OECD) a short list of principles for good international engagement in fragile states to be field tested.
  • Capacity Development of Country Systems – CD learning Issues brief no.1 2009 Developing the capacity of “country systems” – particularly in the context of the Accra Agenda for Action – is all important, as acknowledged at an informal working group discussion (5 March 2009) which brought in several relevant work streams from across the OECD.  When country system capacity is addressed in a compartmentalised manner it can fragment and overload the reform agendas of partner countries. The discussion confirmed, therefore, the need to work towards a more joint approach to meet the challenge of strengthening country systems. Collective action and experience sharing is also necessary if we are to learn about what best impacts on the development of country systems.  This Issues Brief contains highlights from the above discussion. It first examines strategic challenges, then operational ones. It concludes with an outline of possible perspectives for future joint action in, and beyond, the OECD Development Assistance Committee (DAC).
  • Training and Beyond: Seeking Better Practices for Capacity Development, Pearson, Jenny (2011) OECD DCD Working Paper DCD/WKP (2011)

Threshold Technologies Inc.

  • Guidelines for Capacity Development in the Education Sector The guidelines offer a holistic approach to support governments to analyze the status of education in their country, to set goals and work together in achieving those and making the best use of a country’s strengths and balancing their weaknesses. They introduce a strategic, participatory and “best fit” approach to capacity development in the education sector, support a country government in preparing a sound Education sector plan, identify capacity gaps and existing resources for implementation and address capacity gaps with a CD strategy in a systemic way.


Russ, Vince

  • Power and Emotion in Organizational Learning Russ Vince, Human Relations 2001; 54; 1325. This article explores the impact that power and emotion have on relationships and politics within organisations, and how these are fundamental factors in determining what is learnt and how. Vince introduces the notion of regressive learning, as the processes in which people learn to comply and conform in order to be in tune with the prevailing structures of relationships and power.


  • Using Training to Build Capacity for Development: An Evaluation of the World Bank’s Project-Based and WBI Training World Bank Institute’s Independent Evaluation Group study (2008) available at

How to … Monitor, evaluate and learn


  • Issue 29 Monitoring and Evaluation This issue of offers an overview of the different methods and techniques that add new dimensions to results-based M&E. Some allow, for example, the observation of changes over a longer period of time, and offer ways to make such changes more tangible. Other innovative forms of M&E can themselves contribute to capacity building. In this issue, practitioners who have developed such methods describe and explain how they have used them.


  • Horizontal Learning – Engaging Freedom’s Possibilities Doug Reeler, from CDRA Annual Report 2004/2005. This report explores transformative practices of horizontal learning and community exchanges at the creative margins of the development sector.
  • Pursuing a Learning Agenda: a year of evaluation, learning and strategic change. CDRA’s 2009 Annual Report.  Between 2007 and 2009, CDRA underwent an extensive period of evaluation, including self-evaluation, external feedback, a facilitated OD process and several rounds of strategic review. This report documents their process of working to incorporate evaluation into their ongoing learning and strategising, to balance self-evaluation with external perspectives, and to balance internal evaluation with review of impact and strategy.


Don Clark

  • Transfer of learning Don Clark, 2009 available at Clark defines the transfer of learning as the application of skills, knowledge, and/or attitudes that were learned in one situation to another learning situation. He offers practical suggestions about how to overcome the common problem of learning from training not being transferred to workplace practice.


  • Evaluation Web-site IDRC recognizes that evaluation makes an essential contribution to learning and acquiring knowledge about effective approaches to research for development. This webpage provides access to publications, programmes, methodologies, tools and links related to IDRCs work on evaluation, including the latest and final reports from their five-year, strategic study of their own capacity development practices.
  • Strategic Evaluation of Capacity Development: “Doing things better? How capacity development results help bring about change” Taylor and Ortiz, IDRC 2008 This document summarises the findings of IDRC’s strategic, five year long evaluation of its own capacity building practices. It is particularly interesting for its analysis of the links between working with learning and a theory of change.


  • Assessing and Learning for Social Change: A discussion paper. Irene Guijt 2007 IDS This work is the result of a group of development practitioners coming together to discuss the question ‘What processes for assessing and learning about social change can help improve the strategies and results of organisations working to transform inequalities in favour of the poor?’ It covers a range of reflections, resources and real life examples of assessment and learning practices.


  • A ‘quick and dirty’ evaluation of capacity development, which used participatory exercises to answer some basic questions such as What has changed in the organization and by how much? To what extent can these changes be plausibly associated with the different change interventions? How have the impact of these changes been felt at the beneficiary level? What were the key success factors and constraints? The author advocates starting simple, focusing on what is feasible and doing it in such a way as to reinforce NGO ownership of capacity building.

Keystone Accountability

  • Uses a variety of methods to improve downward accountability by providing a constituency voice in performance management. Keystone’s mission is to improve the effectiveness of social purpose organizations by working with them to develop better ways of planning, measuring and reporting social change. One tool is performance surveys such as the 2010 NGO Partner Survey, which summarizes the views of southern partners about the nature of their relationship with international NGOs based in Europe and the US.

McConnell Foundation

  • Development evaluation which combines monitoring and conventional evaluation to support the process of innovation within an organization and in its activities. The McConnell Foundation has produced two publications – A Developmental Evaluation Primer and DE20: A Practitioner’s Guide to Developmental Evaluation – which address the state of continuous development and adaptation, which innovations often face. DE is most valuable in the early stages of innovative social innovations where the objectives are unclear and real-time feedback is critical.


  • Tools for Knowledge and Learning: A Guide for Development and Humanitarian Organisations ODI, 2006 available at  This toolkit aims to help improve knowledge and learning for development and humanitarian operations. It pulls together 30 tools and techniques under five headings: i) Strategy Development; ii) Management Techniques; iii) Collaboration Mechanisms; iv) Knowledge Sharing and Learning Processes; and v) Knowledge Capture and Storage.


  • Hirschmanian Themes of Social Learning and Change Many development strategies assume (or desperately hope) that a country already has the capacity to plan and implement institutional reform or that such reform can be pushed through with the external pressures of aid and conditionalities. In a decentralized reform strategy, developmental change is induced not by government fiat but by releasing and channeling local energies in smaller projects that will in due course spread through links, learning, imitation, and benchmarking. A “Christmas tree” of conditionalities hung on an adjustment loan is generally ineffective in getting a country to develop “ownership” of reform or in generating sustainable change. Development agencies need to work toward client governments’ genuine commitment to policy reform rather than believe that they can “buy” such commitment with aid money. But how does a country get from here to there?


  • Knowledge Services and Learning: A UNDP Capacity Development Resource 2006 This is one in a series of UNDP papers examining various aspects of capacity development, and addresses the role that could be played by UNDP and interested development partners. Knowledge services and learning are defined, and related to other relevant concepts, such as human resources development, within the operational and policy contexts of the UN system. The special focus is on education and training.
  • Governance Indicators – A User’s Guide The guide is written in two parts. The first part provides generic guidance for users of indicators, illustrated with specific examples from the governance arena. The second part of the publication is a source guide, which takes the reader through some specifics about the currently available data sources, including a snapshot of their methodology, some example data, their contact information and the important assumptions underlying the particular source.

Wageningen University

  • Strengthening Managing for Impact Programme (SMIP) which supports ‘new paradigm’ approaches to M&E and develops expertise that can be drawn upon by other organizations and projects. Using a base of complexity theory, it focuses on four interlinked tasks: guiding the strategy, ensuring effective operations, creating a learning environment, and establishing information gathering and management mechanisms.
  • Wageningen Institute: the Netherlands has a range of relevant resources such as their Centre for Development Innovation and site for Participatory Planning Monitoring & Evaluation

World Bank

  • The World Bank Institute’s Capacity Development and Results Framework which is a step-by-step guide to the planning, implementation, and evaluation of projects and programmes to build capacity at a national or sub-national level. Accepted as WBI’s overarching framework for defining and assessing the results of its capacity development programs, the CDRF emphasizes strengthening stakeholder ownership, improving efficiency of policy instruments, and enhancing effectiveness of organizational arrangements;
  • How to build M&E Systems to support Better Government? Governments in a number of developing countries are devoting considerable efforts to strengthen their monitoring and evaluation (M&E) systems and capacities. They are doing this to improve their performance ― by establishing evidence-based policy-making and budget decision-making, evidence-based management, and evidence-based accountability. This volume highlights the experience of several countries which have succeeded in building a well-functioning government M&E system, including Chile, Colombia and Australia. The special case of Africa, where there are many severe capacity constraints, is also examined.

Next section: Case studies and evaluations