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Summary of Recommendations to USAID
To foster local capacity development, one needs to "water" the local contextual garden. In this respect USAID can:
Foster relationships between and among local development players and serve as an energetic leader facilitating communication. So much effort is wasted and time lost because this CSO does not know what that NGO has already done and both are ignorant of business efforts that more or less duplicate what they already tried.
Support debate and research on major issues related to the enabling environment for civil society.
Establish trained Mission-based capacity development teams that remain in place for at least five years at a few USAID missions (probably those that show real interest in being involved). A labor-intensive effort, the team could play many roles. These would emerge from the contextual circumstances themselves. They could play roles such as "collaborator," "sounding board," "disturbance generator," "rescuer," "talent scout". Roles like these are borrowed from the Grantcraft effort that the Ford Foundation started.
Safeguard this effort from political shifts. Effort should be taken to protect this (Implementation and Procurement Reform Objective Two) effort from shifting political priorities, funding uncertainty and the procurement constraints that typically govern USAID's partnerships. Because trust is such an important element of many local relationships, it is critical that this initiative and lure of funds not be replaced by a new priority in a subsequent administration.
Rebrand. A re-branding of the ‘Local Capacity Development' initiative might help to build trust within local communities. For example:
- Consider developing a new logo/branding strategy for this effort that separates it from USAID's traditional branding (and the reputation that comes with it in certain countries).
- ‘Local Capacity Development' might imply a Western-centric notion of capacity. Consider renaming it to better reflect whose definition of capacity is being developed.
- Instead of ‘donor' and ‘recipient', try using terms that reflect equal roles in the partnership.
Maintain relationships even after awards have ended. In capacity development work, donors might build into their projects a "safety valve" -- an individual from the project who remains on offer as a resource for the entity even after the project has ended. This affords the organization the opportunity to provide feedback and ask questions as their capacity development process continues; and allows the donor to learn about what worked and what did not.
Reports & Findings
In Sri Lanka, local capacity is determined by three sets of factors: 1) structural transformation in the political-economy and cultures of the nation; 2) the particular competencies, products, services and relationships between the public sector, the for-profit private sector and the non-governmental sector; and 3) the affiliations and operations of donors.July, 2012
The speed and amplitude of civil society growth in Morocco have created a mild form of chaos. Civil society does not have an altogether positive image. Many people wonder what CSOs do and sense that there is lots of talk and little action.August, 2012
The capital city-centric tendency and the lack of decentralized local authority outside Chisinau pose great challenges to fostering transparent politics, decreasing corruption and increasing community participation.September, 2012
Jamaica is hampered by deep garrisoned political and neighborhood divisions that often manifest in violence. Individualism and distrust carry over to civil society where collaboration among organizations is subject to partisan interest or undermined by opportunistic ‘fly-by-night organizations’.August, 2012
In Peru, the organizational landscape for taking greater national initiative in development work is promising on various fronts, but there is considerable room to strengthen the sector.September, 2012
Local development NGOs are tied at one end to the "projectization" syndrome driven by donors or at the other end by a devotion to a cause, but limited in scope.December, 2012
In Tanzania, there is the beginning of a new kind of social capital upon which much can be built. The report focuses on successful cases of local entities moving toward self-sustainability and entities becoming learning organizations as well as on local organizations spun-off or created as affiliates or local partners of INGOs.January, 2013
The issue that many called "projectization" looms as large in Kenya as elsewhere. CSOs lament that donors do not want to pay for an organization's overhead, much less its evolution as an effective, sustainable entity. Thus, the more serious CSOs are clamoring to be as free as possible of donor dependence.June, 2013