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Three years after the launch of its reform of technical cooperation, the European Commission is now looking beyond technical cooperation at ways to support capacity development more consistently across all areas of development assistance.
African think tanks prove useful in researching, influencing, designing and implementing policies and can therefore be used by development practitioners in project cycles, said Dr Frannie Léautier, Executive Secretary of the  African Capacity Building Foundation (ACBF), a Zimbabwe-based organisation that supports 39 think tanks in 25 African countries.
Development professionals are regularly asked to assess results of Capacity Development programmes – a challenging task that is not always easily carried out. But a new tool, called the Rapid Assessment of Capacity, or RAC, has been designed with the intention of being fast, effective and low cost to implement.
Thanks to a clever use of existing procedures, the European Union Delegation to Burkina Faso working in partnership with the government, successfully managed a seamless transition from an emergency intervention by the Commission’s humanitarian body, ECHO, to offering long-term support to more than 100,000 flood victims.
Capacity4dev Team created a new Article 2 October 2009
Capacity4dev Team created a new Article 28 July 2010
Making Technical Cooperation more effective implies making the European Commission more effective. That may be painful, but not impossible, argues Nils Boesen who has assisted EuropeAid in designing and implementing the TC reform.
The Director General of EuropeAid, Koos Richelle, has circulated the new Guidelines on Making Technical Assistance More Effective and urged staff across the European Commission to take a leading role in implementing technical cooperation reform. "Your dedicated involvement and leadership are critical to achieve, in the coming months, tangible improvements in the way TC programmes are designed and managed," said Mr Richelle in an instruction note to staff and delegations.
When taking stock of the progress of the TC reform, some delegation staff complain that the reform imposes a heavy burden of new reporting obligations with little value added in terms of improving the quality of TC operations. Indeed it would be ironic if a reform that encourages greater engagement with partners, and actively promotes partner ownership, kept those on the frontline busy serving headquarters instead.
Do you know how to encourage individuals to offer their services? Do you know how to organise a successful round of interviews, or modify a Financing Agreement with or without an addendum? Or how to mobilise public expertise from an EU Member State?
Over five days in May, the TC reform was presented, discussed, and brought "down to earth" in Manila in the Philippines. The EC Delegation had organised this first flexible learning and coaching process in close dialogue with the Brussels-based reform task team.