Institutional Strengthening of Parastatal Organisations

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Helpdesk Query:

What are the most effective methods for donors to support institutional strengthening/capacity building of stand alone parastatal organisations or similar organisations?  For example, whether technical assistance is the best method of support or if other methods would be more effective. Also any information on influencing these organisations.

Options for support include providing a full-time technical person for a couple of years, twinning with another similar institution in another country, or providing intermittent in-out support, mentoring of the chief executive, etc. Do you know of any evaluations that have been done looking at which approaches work best or what factors help with success?


Capacity building is mainly seen as a way for organisations to become better equipped to support themselves and to increase their productivity and, thereby, their competitiveness.  Few rigorous evaluations that have sought to compare different capacity development strategies, rather than the outcomes of specific projects and the evaluative literature in this field is weak.  An important theme in the literature was the importantance of conducting a needs assessment including the current state of the organisation as the best way of capacity building will vary.

Literature and experts suggest that of the strategies considered for capacity development, developing longer term twinning arrangements would be the preferred option and the reasons for this are presented in section 2 along with some case studies and lessons learned from using this approach. This allows the organisation concerned to broaden its professional network, access a range of different skills and expertise and gain real insight into how a well run organisation with similar goals and functions operates.

It is important not to focus only on developing individual skills and also think carefully about broader organisational factors that may support or inhibit success. This may be a problem with providing technical assistance and this is presented in section 3.

Sections 4-6 consider other options and suggest a weakness with providing intermittent support is that consistency is an important factor.  Mentoring and coaching can help as can external facilitation when developing strategy and direction. It can ensure all voices and views are heard. Other options include allowing organisations to choose the type of capacity building they want (demand driven), AusAID’s staged capacity building model, supporting the creation of networks and using many methods simultaneously to build up capacity.

Funders who clarify their goals, monitor the progress of capacity building efforts, and assess the results will be able to continuously improve their approach and effectiveness.



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