Return to the UEM Homepage

Capacity Building
The UNDP Approach

In the UNDP's 2008-2013 "Strategic Plan for Development" capacity building is the " ... organization's core contribution to development." It promotes a capacity building approach to development in the 166 countries it is active in. It focuses on building capacity on an institutional level and offers a 5?step process for systematic capacity building. The steps are:
  1. Engage stakeholders on capacity development

    An effective capacity building process must encourage participation by all those involved. If stakeholders are involved and share ownership in the process of development they will feel more responsible for the outcome and sustainability of the development. Engaging stakeholder's who are directly affected by the situation allows for more effective decision-making, it also makes development work more transparent. UNDP and its partners use advocacy and policy advisory to better engage stakeholders.

  2. Assess capacity needs and assets

    Assessing preexisting capacities through engagement with stakeholders allows capacity builders to see what areas require additional training, what areas should be prioritized, in what ways capacity building can be incorporated into local and institutional development strategies. UNDP argues that capacity building that is not rooted in a comprehensive study and assessment of the preexisting conditions will be restricted to training alone, which will not facilitate sustained results.

  3. Formulate a capacity development response

    Once an assessment has been completed, a capacity building response must be created based on four core issues:

    • Institutional arrangements - Assessments often find that institutions are inefficient because of bad or weak policies, procedures, resource management, organization, leadership, frameworks, and communication. UNDP and its networks work to solve problems associated with institutional arrangements by developing human resource frameworks covering policies and procedures for recruitment, deployment and transfer, incentives systems, skills development, performance evaluation systems, and ethics and values.

    • Leadership - UNDP believes that leadership by either an individual or an organization can catalyze the achievement of development objectives. Strong leadership allows for easier adaption to changes, strong leaders can also influence people. It uses coaching and mentoring programmers to help encourage the development of leadership skills such as, priority setting, communication and strategic planning.

    • Knowledge - UNDP believes knowledge is the foundation of capacity. It believes greater investments should be made in establishing strong education systems and opportunities for continued learning and the development of professional skills. It supports the engagement in post-secondary education reforms, continued learning and domestic knowledge services.

    • Accountability - Implementation of accountability measures facilitates better performance and efficiency. A lack of accountability measures in institutions allows for the proliferation of corruption. UNDP promotes the strengthening of accountability frameworks that monitor and evaluate institutions. It also promotes independent organizations that oversee, monitor and evaluate institutions. It promotes the development of capacities such as literacy and language skills in civil societies that will allow for increased engagement in monitoring institutions.

  4. Implement a capacity development response

    Implementing a capacity building program involves the inclusion of multiple systems; national, local, institutional. It involves continual reassessment and expect change depending on changing situations. It includes evaluative indicators to measure the effective of initiated programs.

  5. Evaluate capacity development

    Evaluation of capacity building promotes accountability. Measurements is based on changes in an institutions performance. Evaluations are based on changes in performance based around the four main issues: institutional arrangements, leadership, knowledge, and accountability.

    UNDP integrates this capacity building system into its work on reaching the Millennium Development Goals(MDGs). It focuses on building capacity at the institutional level because it believes that "institutions are at the heart of human development, and that when they are able to perform better, sustain that performance over time, and manage 'shocks' to the system, they can contribute more meaningfully to the achievement of national human development goals."

  • ORG: United Nations Development Programme -
  • RESOURCE: "UNDP and Capacity Building"
  • SOURCE: United Nations Development Programme. "Supporting Capacity Building: The UNDP approach".
Return to the Capacity Building page
Contact: Hari Srinivas -