Capacity Building

Capacity refers to the ability of an individual, group, organisation or system to deliver intended outcomes, while capacity building refers to improving the ability of the entity to perform.’ (Brown et al 2001)

There are a number of defining characteristics for capacity building (eg. Alaerts et al 1991, UNDP 1998) however, all agree that:

  • Capacity building is a process of change, it is about managing transformations.
  • Capacity building is a long-term process, not a once-off intervention (but there can be short-term results)
  • Capacity building is an internal (endogenous) process, meaning that change needs to be driven from within an individual and/or organisation to build a self-sustaining model.
  • Capacity building involves all stakeholders (across organisations and hierarchy)
  • Capacity building measures obstacles, progress and outcomes
  • Capacity building goes beyond improving the human resource capacity to encompass the organisational and institutional contexts.

Clearwater uses a model developed to define capacity in the Australian water context (Brown et al 2006), which illustrates the different aspects of capacity in four spheres: