Capacity development takes place in several different ways within the ACT Alliance. Some members develop their own capacity using their own and locally-raised resources; some develop their capacity with support provided by other ACT members; some develop their capacity with support provided by partners from outside the ACT Alliance. For some, developing capacity is about seeking organisational change, either at an individual member level or at a forum level.
These might be internal organisation capacities (such as vision, mission strategies etc.) or external relations capacities to enable linkages with actors outside the organisation. For others, the focus is more on developing technical capacity in the range of issues the alliance is engaged with, across the three pillars of humanitarian, development and advocacy work. This strategy seeks to provide a common framework for capacity development within the alliance, providing a strategic focus on the areas of leadership, forum development and capacities for impact through an applied learning approach.
In the past, ACT International, and subsequently ACT Alliance, has taken different approaches to capacity development. Between 1998 and 2004, this was predominantly through the Emergency Management Training (EMT) programme. An evaluation in 2002 recognised that while the training was of high quality, the benefits accrued largely to individuals rather than the member organisations that they worked for.
In response to this evaluation, and a desire to seek to put capacity development “…at the heart of ACT’s work”, the Capacity Development Initiative (CDI) was developed which aimed to support ACT members and forums to undertake a process of organisational assessment leading to a capacity development plan and subsequent implementation of that plan. The CDI ran from 2008-2013 and a number of members and forums used the Organisational Capacity Assessment (OCA) tool to assess their capacities and then sought funding to implement different capacity development activities. The CDI evaluation in 2013 culminated in a “Learning and strategy workshop on capacity development” which found that while the impact of the CDI was significant for those who had undergone the process, the low-take up rate had meant that the impact on the overall capacity of the alliance had not been as high as had been hoped. In addition, the ‘shared learning’ aspect of the CDI had largely been overshadowed by the development and application of the OCA tool.
This strategy seeks to build on the lessons learned from the CDI evaluation and intentionally strengthen key areas of capacity in the alliance through an applied learning approach.
The ACT Alliance Capacity Building and Learning Strategy is available in English, French and Spanish.
(ACT Policies and guidelines)