Development Co-operation Directorate (DCD-DAC)

Capacity development


We help developed and developing countries work together to apply good practice and shape a common agenda in capacity development, in line with some of the priorities of the Accra Agenda for Action.

A key to development results

To achieve development results, countries need the capacity to take the lead in making decisions on the right policies and programmes for them. Developing capacity therefore means more than just transferring institutions or knowledge from one country to another. We work with countries in both North and South to ensure that efforts to build capacity are strategic and home-grown, respect unique conditions and context and are carefully monitored for success.

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Encouraging good practice

About a quarter of publicly funded aid, or more than USD25 billion a year, has been spent on technical assistance, mainly targeted at capacity development. Yet much of this money has had relatively little impact.

Over the years, we've worked with developed and developing countries to:

  • consolidate and disseminate evidence and learning on existing capacity development approaches and good practice - with a focus on the six capacity development priorities outlined in the Accra Agenda for Action (2008)
  • support joint South-North efforts to implement good practice in capacity development, especially in the lead-up to the Fourth High Level Forum on Aid Effectiveness 

Our publications highlight key capacity development challenges and consolidate the joint South-North effort of defining the best approaches to address them.

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Shaping a common
South-North agenda

To meet the challenge of making the concepts and good practices of capacity development operational, we work closely with both Southern and Northern countries to consolidate their priorities and build consensus. The ability of developing countries to take charge of the process of developing their capacity is fundamental for their sustainability. Without strong, reliable capacity at home, they will never work their way out of aid. 

To enhance our collaboration with Southern countries, we have forged partnerships with:

  • Governance and development, a Southern-led forum for political advocacy for capacity development
  • LenCD (The Learning Network on Capacity Development), a North-South professional learning network for capacity development

We also work with a number of other groups in the donor community and beyond. Consult a list of our partners, as well as some key reference documents they produce.

Together, we seek to raise the visibility of Southern perspectives in ongoing work on capacity development and strengthen the leading role that developing countries take in its process - as embodied, for example, in the joint South-North Cairo Consensus endorsed at the March 2011 Cairo Workshop on Capacity Development.

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