Briefly presents the key HR issues related to the growing gap between USAID Forward’s emphasis on local solutions and the ability of Missions and their staff to undertake approaches that enrich local capacities, both in host governments and civil society.
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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
The world of local organizations (indeed the world of development itself) is changing more rapidly than ever, and to a large extent many donors and INGOs have not kept up with those changes as fully as they might.
This review of Feed the Future (FTF) Human and Institutional Capacity Development (HICD) strategy is based on a wide reading of documents provided by the Bureau for Food Security (BFS), and many from the broad literature on capacity development. It is also based on interviews with 34 people, many of whom are/were involved in the portfolio of HICD projects, either for USAID or as implementers. We find that on the human capacity development front there is evidence of impact.