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The Process of capacity development

Capacity development should be a participatory process with all country stakeholders developing and implementing plans and monitoring their success.

The Capacity development process involves various stages. The success of any capacity development programme depends on the culture, context, and circumstances of the country, organization, and individuals involved, so the process should be adjusted to the country context as required.

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UNDP works with national stakeholders to facilitate the process, make tools and guidance available and to support the implementation, monitoring and evaluation of the capacity development plan.

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UNDP has facilitated capacity development processes in a wide range of countries, from Zimbabwe and Malawi, including in challenging operating environments such as Afghanistan and South Sudan.

UNDP develops tools relevant to the country context and supports all groups working in health to strengthen health implementation, from national ministries of health, to National AIDS Councils (NACs), health procurement bodies and health governance mechanisms, and civil society groups, including those working with key populations carrying out activities in criminalized environments.

In early 2018 comprehensive capacity development plans were in place in 9 countries, one example is Afghanistan, where plans are in place for both the Ministry of Public Health and different civil society organizations (CSOs). 2018 marked the beginning of new strategic plans and grant cycles in several countries, and new capacity development requests are being responded to, including combined adolescent girls and young women and key populations plans as well as strategic capacities for CSOs working in health and HIV.

Factors critical to the success of capacity development programmes

From working with multiple countries carrying out capacity development processes UNDP has identified common factors key to successful capacity development.

The most important is national support and ownership to drive the planning and implementation, led by national leaders who are empowered and willing to change structures and processes in order to improve health systems performance.

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Other critical success factors include:

  • A common understanding of capacity development its purpose, scope and objectives, and agreement on the end goal.
  • An objective assessment process to reach a common understanding of needs and recommendations.
  • Adapting the capacity development approach to the specific context and circumstances of the country and organizations involved.
  • Clarity of responsibilities, including who is responsible for implementing and evaluating the capacity development plan.
  • Planning and budgeting for capacity development; capacity development plans and budgets should be developed as part of the initial programme development to support implementation of health programmes.
  • Integration of capacity development plans with existing national plans and strategies, rather than being seen as separate programmes.
  • Involving donors and stakeholders at the planning stage is important, to ensure coordination of various capacity development initiatives and cost sharing.
  • Resource mobilization The plan should be clear on all resources required in terms of both money and technical support.
  • Regular review and updating of the capacity development plan to monitor progress and make necessary changes.
  • Ongoing and transparent communications and collaboration with all country stakeholders regarding the plan and its progress.
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Capacity development efforts can be hampered by the absence of a supportive law, rights and policy environment

Without supporting strategies, laws, and policies in place, certain activities may not be able to include all key affected populations in the capacity development process, which can be vital to success of health programmes.
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Stakeholders’ engagement: There is a need for effective participation of key stakeholders including civil society organizations, in particular those representing Key Affected Populations.

Policy dialogue: Engagement with policymakers is vital.

International frameworks: There is a need to ensure links to major international frameworks on the right to health and specific information on human rights and law.

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Global Fund programme implementation often relies heavily on effective implementation by partners on the ground, known as sub-recipients (SRs) and sub-sub recipients (SSRs). A key role for a Global Fund Principal Recipient (PR) is carrying out capacity assessments of all implementing partners and delivering capacity development support throughout the programme.

UNDP capacity development toolkit – an innovative web-based platform for health

UNDP first developed the first version of this website in 2012 as an innovative and collaborative way of sharing ideas and information about how to strengthen capacity in health systems.

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Since then it has grown to include knowledge on how to strengthen the law, rights and policy setting in countries to create a more enabling environment for health programmes, particularly those focused on reaching key populations. As UNDP worked in multiple countries, developing tools to guide and implement programmes to create more resilient and sustainable health systems, these tools were added to the website for all groups to use, along with case studies assessing and analysing best practise.

The website has had users ranging from South Africa and Nigeria to India and the US, recording 64,500-page views over a 24-month period from over 150 countries, looking at information on capacity development as well as human rights and the innovative Solar for Health programme.

To respond to growing demand this new website was designed using new technologies, based on the structure and content of the UNDP Capacity Development Strategy for Health. The UNDP capacity development for health is an online platform and global resource for supporting capacity development initiatives in health programmes.

This current website brings together UNDP’s experience in supporting health systems in over 60 countries, with the aim of providing support for creating a more enabling environment, supporting health implementation to reach those populations most at risk, and improving capacity in all functional areas required to ensure a resilient health systemfinancial management, procurement and supply management, programme management and health information. For each topic guidance is provided, together with resources, manuals, standard operating procedures (SOPs), tools etc.

The online Toolkit has contributed to capacity development plans for health through a dynamic process of assessment, interventions and monitoring using performance indicators.

Introduction to capacity development planning and assessment

Key resources

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