About Capacity Development

Capacity Development (CD) is at the core of Development Cooperation as the main road towards sustainable results. Capacity Development is a wide concept that has not univocally defined. A way to better understand the scope of capacity development is to look at the different levels and elements of this concept. According to OECD (2006):  

  • Capacity is: “The ability of people, organisations and society as a whole to manage their affairs successfully” 
  • Capacity Development is: “The process whereby people, organisations and society as a whole unleash, strengthen, create, adapt and maintain capacity over time”
  • Capacity Development Support: Refers to what outside partners (domestic or foreign) can do to support, facilitate or catalyse country partners to develop their capacity(ies)

Capacity development can target the individual, organisational and sector or country level, depending on the objectives of a development action and the assessment of the current capacities to deliver the required results.


At each level, an assessment of existing capacities should look not only at the constraints compared to an “ideal” benchmark, but also at capacity strengths including opportunities in the context which may stimulate initiatives.  At the sector level capacity development may result in improved policies, laws and regulations. At the organisational level capacity can be directed at enhancing institutional performance through enhanced systems and management capacity and practice. At the individual level, capacity can strengthen knowledge, skills and attitudes. 

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last update
31 July 2017

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