Capacity Building

  1. definitions
  2. brief description of the key concept
  3. examples and/or illustrations
  4. other useful sources
  5. bibliography


Capacity building also referred to as capacity development is a conceptual approach to development that focuses on understanding the obstacles that inhibit people, governments, international organizations and non-governmental organizations from realizing their developmental goals while enhancing the abilities that will allow them to achieve measurable and sustainable results.

Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia,
. (Accessed January 17, 2012)

Defining Capacity Building

So what is ‘capacity-building”? Why has the focus shifted towards building capacity of cities and urban areas to handle its environments? What constitutes ‘capacity-building’? Some definitions and descriptions …    
www.gdrc.org/uem/capacity-define.html (Accessed January 17, 2012)

Capacity building is a process that involves value added instruction, the training of trainers, activities with multiplier effects, and networking. It involves both institutional capacity-building, as well as human capacity-building. Urban Environment Management, Urban Capacity Building, www.gdrc.org/uem/capacity.html.  (Accessed January 17, 2012)


Brief Description of the Key Concept

Helping Boost Capacity

Strengthening capacity, a core activity in the area of protection, seeks to help states meet their international legal obligations to protect refugees. Through its livelihoods programmes, UNHCR also develops capacity: it helps displaced people become self-sufficient in their places of refuge and enhances the chances of finding a durable solution for refugees.

Capacity building activities are geared towards strengthening national authorities, laws and policies to ensure the proper handling of refugee and asylum issues, the reception and care of refugees, the promotion of self-reliance of refugees and the realization of durable solutions. But the task cannot be accomplished alone. It requires a partnership framework involving host and donor governments, humanitarian assistance and developmental agencies, civil society, including NGOs, together with refugees themselves.

UNHCR, The UN Refugee Agency, www.unhcr.org/pages/49c3646c107.html. (Accessed January 17, 2012)

Kemlin Furley and Jenifer Otsea, eds. A Practical Guide to Capacity Building as a Feature of UNHCR’s Humanitarian Programmes. September, 1999, UNHCR Geneva. www.unhcr.org/3bbd64845.html. (Accessed January 17, 2012)


Examples and/or Illustrations

Livelihoods and Self-Reliance
UNHCR, The UN Refugee Agency, www.unhcr.org/pages/4ad2e7d26.html(Accessed January 17, 2012)

Partnerships and Capacity Building
UNHCR, The UN Refugee Agency, www.unhcr-centraleurope.org/en/what-we-do/how-unhcr-operates/partnerships-and-capacity-building.html.
(Accessed January 17, 2012)

Refugee Youth Health Project
Access Alliance: Multicultural Health and Community Services, http://accessalliance.ca/research/activities/refugeeyouthhealth. (Accessed January 17, 2012)

NGO Statement on Capacity Building and Protection, UNHCR Global Consultations on International Protection,ICVA, International Council for Voluntary Agencies,  www.icva.ch/doc00000449.html(Accessed January 17, 2012)


Other Useful Sources

Building Capacity: Supporting New and Emerging Groups in the Community
Refugee and Migrant Forum of East London (ramfel),
www.ramfel.org.uk/capacity.php. (Accessed January 17, 2012)

Building Capacity on housing, land and property issues,
Norwegian Refugee Council (NCR), www.nrc.no/?did=9588253.
(Accessed January 17, 2012)



Bangura, Yusuf. Public Sector Restructuring: The Institutional and Social Effects of Fiscal, Managerial and Capacity- Building Reforms.  Geneva 2000 Occasional Paper No. 3, February 2000. www.unrisd.org/unrisd/website/document.nsf/ab82a6805797760f80256b4f005da1ab/90686e99b6f66d9a80256b610045f263/$FILE/bangura.pdf. (Accessed January 17, 2012)

Connolly, Paul and Peter York. “Building the Capacity of Capacity Builders,” The Conservation Company, September 2003.
www.tccgrp.com/pdfs/buildingthecapacityofcapacitybuilders.pdf. (Accessed January 17, 2012)

Eade, Deborah. Capacity-Building: An Approach to People-Centred Development. Oxford: Oxfam GB, UK and Ireland, 1997.

Smillie, Ian. ed. Patronage or Partnership: Local Capacity Building in Humanitarian Crises. Bloomfield, CT: Kumarian Press, Inc., 2001.