Capacity development for improved delivery of WASH services

Capacity development for improved WASH services delivery is the third pillar for the OWNP. In short, capacity is all about the ability to do something. This brief definition, however, tells us little about what that ability entails. Capacity means all the different skills of individuals and groups that combine and interact to shape the overall capability of a given system or organisation. Capacity development (or capacity building) means changes in capacity over time. The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) defines capacity development as ‘The process through which individuals, organisations, and societies obtain, strengthen, and maintain the capabilities to set and achieve their own development objectives over time’ (UNDP, 2008).

The WASH Implementation Framework (WIF) has a similar definition. It describes capacity development as: ‘A set of planned and linked activities, strategies, approaches, and methods designed to improve the performance of individuals, organisations, and systems by creating the conditions through which change and improvement can take place’ (WIF, 2011). It goes on to describe the capacity development strategy for the WASH programme, which aims to develop capacity at many different levels. This includes building:

  • Individual capacities – skills, knowledge, attitudes, and confidence of individual players at all levels to effectively carry out their assigned tasks.
  • Organisational capacities – institutional development and strengthening of the new WASH structures at different levels.
  • Operational systems – that support harmonised planning, financial management, procurement, capacity development, supervision, reporting, information management, and monitoring and evaluation.
  • Teamwork – communication and collaboration among implementing partners (governmental and non-governmental), donor agencies, private sector and other institutions in one integrated programme.
  • Supply and logistical support – high-standard and timely inputs increasingly accessed by communities through the private sector to promote local ownership and management and enhance the sustainability of services.
  • Strategic sector support – to inform WASH policy, implementation and coordination through strategic studies, evidence, sector reviews and support for networks and forums.

The significance of capacity development and the reason why it is included as one of the three pillars of the OWNP is highlighted in the OWNP document which states that ‘Capacity gaps at all levels have been identified as one of the most pervasive threats to the successful implementation of the programme’ (OWNP, 2013). The high importance given to improving WASH sector capacity is further emphasised by the inclusion of capacity building in one of the four components of the OWNP, which will be the focus of the next study session.

Last modified: Wednesday, 24 August 2016, 1:01 AM