Aid workers talk endlessly about capacity building – but what does it really mean?

Isn’t capacity building a potentially never-ending bureaucrat’s fantasy? Isn’t it time for a serious rethink?

From The Guardian:

In broadest terms, capacity building means improving the organisational performance of institutions. But the terms technology transfer, institutional strengthening, capacity building and capacity development have all been used to describe more or less the same process – so there’s a distinct lack of clarity about the concept.

Capacity building has been a cornerstone of development policy for 70 years and vast amounts of money have been spent on it. The Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development calculated that capacity building accounts for 25% of aid expenditure, representing about US$15bn (£12bn) a year. (more…)