Wednesday, December 5, 2007

How to facilitate a capacity assessment?

Josefien de Kwaadsteniet worked in Burundi. She wrote a case study which is summarized in this blogpost. She worked in a two-year ICCO program on capacity strengthening. The -ambitieus- objective of the program is to make organizations in Burundi work more efficient, effective, participatory and sustainable.

When she started she visited all organizations several times to exchange ideas and explain about capacity building, using the diagram shown here. After that, the capacity assessment took place. This was done by a two day participatory workshop with each organzation. She worked with local consultants who had been given a training on the method. Josefien used the Participatory Capacity Building Toolkit.

During the workshop, the worked with maximum 15 persons. First a profile of the organization is made - vision, mission and main activities. Then the capacity of the organization is analysed on on the basis of questions and discussions. In between the group is animated by games to keep up their energy level. The results are summarized in a report and given to the organization.

This is the basis for a next series of workshops in which the most important capacity areas are chosen and a plan is developed. Most organization have difficulties to manage their financial and human resources and to plan, monitor and evaluate their activities.

Some do's and don't for the facilitator
  • Do take your time to explain capacity strengthening
  • Do work with local consultants and make sure they really understand the method
  • Do let the organization choose one or two persons responsible for the process within their organization
  • Don't rush things and take your time to adapt to their schedule
  • Don't be a perfectionist
  • Do adapt the method to the level of the organizations and if possible conduct a pilot
  • Do share the idea of capacity strengthening with other donors of the organization to get shared support and to avoid double work

Some lessons Josefien learned are that you have to find a balance between the way you want to see things and they way it is going, sometimes you can't influence things. You never know for sure what the real motivation of organizations is to participate, don't push on this too much. Capacity strengthening is a process that takes time and one has to be really patient.

More documents on capacity strengthening can be found at the PSO website. Some capacity building advisor sites:


Facilicom Consult

Baco Consult

Photo: workshop with one of the partner organizations

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