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What is it?

The Toolkit for capacity development is a set of eight instruments, generally structured as a matrix, aimed at assessing sector and/or institutional capacity (actors, roles, processes and results). It also includes a guide for preparing terms of reference for capacity assessment. There is a certain amount of redundancy and overlap across the tools; deciding which to use alone or in combination in a given situation depends on evaluation of several factors – e.g. the level of information that needs to be assessed, and the momentum or quality of dialogue already in place (or to be initiated) with key stakeholders.

What can it be used for?

The toolkit looks at critical aspects within sectors and institutions such as policies, resources and stakeholder interests from a capacity development perspective to improve planning and implementation of capacity development – including dialogue about and support to such processes with development partners.

When can it be used?

The toolkit and its instruments are not intended for systematic application, but rather are to be applied in a dynamic manner tailored to the individual situation. Country-led dialogue, analysis and formulation should guide the use of the capacity development instruments. That said, some tools do feed into others; these linkages are illustrated in Figure 1.

Figure1: Map of the tools and their main linkages

Who can use it?
  • Staff and managers in various organisations tasked with assessing or developing the capacity of a sector, sub-sector or organisation
What are its strengths?
  • Offers a practical, modular approach, articulated in tools that can be relatively quickly applied as either stand-alone or complementary elements.
  • Results are framed in clear outputs (matrices, graphics, etc.) which are easy to share with partners and can stimulate dialogue and strategic planning processes.
What are its limitations?
  • Most of the tools require a certain preliminary knowledge of the context and, in some cases, of the stakeholders, since they may need to address less tangible aspects linked to interests, willingness, incentives, power distribution, etc.
  • In some cases, tools may overlap, or content may be redundant, which makes it necessary to decide which tool to apply.


Key elements

The toolkit offers a practical approach towards eight key elements critical to any change process; not all of them will be used in each context, as Table 1 illustrates.

Table 1: Use of different tools

Tool Hyperlink

What it is useful for?

Tool 1. Quick scanning matrix and process checklist

Preliminary assessment aimed at getting stakeholders support for capacity development on agenda (entry point)

Tool 2. Assessing organisational capacity

Helps in identifying the scope and focus (areas and criteria) of an organisational capacity assessment; feeds into Tool 3

Tool 3. Partners' roles in capacity development processes

Matches the different steps in a process of change with the actors involved, assigning roles and responsibilities; complements Tool 4

Tool 4. Setting the stage: mapping sector and governance actors

Enables visualisation and understanding of the power/influence dynamics of a sector (e.g. who decides priorities, how resources are distributed, how authority is exercised), which helps in identifying the actors with a significant role in governance; closely linked to Tool 5

Tool 5. Political economy and stakeholder analysis

Provides inputs for strategic-level decision-making by supporting analysis of context factors and relevant stakeholders, thus further detailing the information identified in Tool 3; this feeds into Tool 6 and Tool 7

Tool 6. Change management

Helpful for operational planning: self-assessment and change management design (communication with stakeholders, getting content right, ensuring the right functions, etc.), building on information about significant actors gathered through Tool3 and Tool 4 and feeding into Tool 7 and Tool 8

Tool 7. Sequencing and scoping of capacity development and reform

Ensures that capacity development and reform endeavours are properly sequenced and scoped, building on information gathered through all previous tools

Tool 8. Logical design of capacity development processes

Allows operational formulation of specific capacity development processes and support to these processes through a results framework

Appendix. Guide for preparing terms of reference for capacity assessment

Guidance and practical suggestions on what the key operators of capacity assessment should do

Typically, a capacity development support intervention builds on an existing context analysis (political economy, stakeholder, sector mapping, etc.) and is progressively formalised through different stages of analysis and dialogue in which roles, tasks and milestones are identified and agreed upon. This process ends with the logical design of a capacity development intervention, which allows formulation of expected objectives and results.


Data/information. Every tool has specific information and data collection methods (literature review, surveys, interviews, etc). While an initial picture can be built from a literature review, qualitative data collection methods (formal and informal) must be applied to obtain a more accurate conception.

Time. Each tool has a different time frame; with the support of a capacity assessment specialist who has a deep understanding of the context, preliminary analysis can be compressed in one or two weeks. However, as capacity development support should be integrated in a change management process (policy reform), analysis may be extended through systematic periodic review.

Skills. The literature review can be performed in house; specific competencies may be required to assess capacity and facilitate capacity development processes in partner institutions. A mix of local and international consultants may have added value, provided this support is properly coordinated by the EU Delegation.

Facilities and materials. See individual tool fiches.

Financial costs and sources. See individual tool fiches.

Tips and tricks

  • Even though it focuses on capacity development, the toolkit can be relevant in any intervention and support a broad context analysis. A quick scan of the entire toolkit can be useful;tools can be used alone or combined according to need and mandate at different points in the intervention cycle.
  • Many capacity development efforts suffer from over-specification of technical inputs and under-specification of change management tasks and functions. Comprehensive change demands leadership engagement and support as well as partner ownership. The tools can help widen the focus of capacity development planning beyond technical aspects.
  • When using both local and international consultants, plan their participation to ensure joint collaboration: experience shows that international consultants may take the lead and minimise/underuse the contribution of local colleagues.
  • Matrices and graphics are intended to facilitate and visually support the planning process. Criteria and parameters presented in the tools can be adapted to specific needs.


Where to find it

The European Commission (EC), 2010. EuropeAid. Tools and Methods Series. Reference Document N. 6 Toolkit for Capacity Development

Complementary guides, methodologies and tools

Asian Development Bank (ADB), 2011. Practical Guide to Capacity development in a Sector Context.

The European Commission (EC), 2009. EuropeAid. Tools and Methods Series. Guidelines Nº3. Making Technical Cooperation More Effective.

The World Bank, 2009, The Capacity Development Results Framework (CDRF)

United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), 2008. Capacity Assessment Practice Note and Capacity Assessment User Guide.