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Capacity Development

Capacity Development (also referred to as ‘capacity building’) can be defined as the process where individuals, organisations and societies obtain and strengthen the capabilities to set and achieve their own objectives over time. It is a continual process, important for the growth and development of individuals, organisations and societies.

Kenya’s transition to devolved government created new national and intergovernmental institutions and 47 county governments requiring some new capabilities. A National Capacity Building Framework (NCBF) was developed in 2013 to guide the reform of the public service and provide principles and guidance for capacity development. The NCBF was aligned to the 2010 Constitution of Kenya and supported the achievement of the Kenya National Development Vision 2030; the Framework is currently being revised and updated.

The capacity building of citizens to engage effectively with their county governments is complementary and necessary for effective and accountable governance, through Public Participation processes.

For more information, follow the links below of visit the Toolkit page describing the key Capacity Development Institutions in Kenya.


Capacity Development of County Governments Approaches to Capacity Development Capacity Development Resources


Capacity Development of County Governments

Effective capacity development of County Governments requires the creation of a supportive policy and legal environment for the counties to perform their functions, the provision of adequate resources, structures and systems, and ensuring that county personnel have individual technical knowledge skills and competencies. This is a long-term process and requires long-term investment and support.

  • Institutional environment: For County Governments to perform effectively, supportive policies, legislation, regulations and guidelines should be in place to direct and facilitate their performance. This includes having the right political support, a strong accountability system, as well as socio-cultural norms and values.
  • Organisational capacity: The right structures, systems and processes must be in place, both as prescribed in legislation, and as developed by the County Governments themselves, for effective operations. At the same time, adequate financial resources are key to ensure that County Governments have access to proper facilities and equipment for their general administration and service delivery.
  • Human resources: County Governments should have suitably qualified staff in sufficient number and who are appropriately remunerated. They should establish and maintain human resource management and development systems to ensure that staff have the right incentives and have opportunities for professional growth and development. Developing human resources is essential to the establishment of a functional and capable County Government, as so is the provision of an enabling institutional environment and incentives for good performance where individuals and organisations apply their existing and new knowledge and skills (follow this link for more on Performance Management).
Approaches to Capacity Development

The approach taken to capacity development of individuals and organisations will depend on the capacity constraints identified, and different contexts will require different and sometimes multiple complementary approaches and interventions.

Capacity assessments should be undertaken to define the specific capacity gaps, context and to define appropriate capacity development approaches and activities. Approaches can be:

  • supply-driven—where they are largely externally determined, or
  • demand-driven—where the organisation or individuals identify and engage in designing and planning for their own capacity needs.

The approach adopted depends on the needs to be met and sometimes can be a combination of both. Typical capacity development approaches, and some associated activities include:

  • Mentoring and on-the-job support: Target recipients can benefit immensely from regular ‘person-to-person’ support, where qualified and experienced experts offer on-the-job training, advice, practical solutions to problems and encouragement over a period of time. Mentoring activities work best when they are designed and implemented using Adult Learning principles. This is one of the approaches undertaken by AHADI when working with County Governments to better understand the PEM cycle.
  • Technical assistance: Technical assistance is non-financial assistance offered by local or international experts often directed at institutional strengthening or developing organisational working practices such as policies, laws, regulations, systems and processes. It may involve deploying technical experts to work with the target organisation. It takes the of form of sharing information, expertise, instruction, skills training, transmission of working knowledge, technical data and consulting services. (Source: Adapted from UNESCO Definition of Technical Assistance)
  • Financial assistance: Direct financial assistance or performance-based grants to support capital investments often combined with institutional reforms and organisational capacity strengthening. Under a similar scheme, the organisation itself directly purchases goods or capacity development services
  • Training: Training is one activity commonly undertaken as part of a capacity development process. Training approaches can include class-room based training, workshops, practicals and demonstrations, or a combination of approaches, and can be face-to-face or distance self-directed learning.
  • Peer learning: Peer learning is where people with the same concerns and facing the same challenges, can help and learn from each other. Peer learning can take place in a variety of ways: through networks, exchange visits, and workshops, and can involve the use of ICT and other media for example, using social media such as ‘What’s App’ groups, where individuals can stay in contact and ask and receive answers to questions as they crop up in daily activities.
  • Study tours and benchmarking visits: Visits to observe, compare and learn from the practice employed elsewhere with the purpose of adapting and applying best practice or lessons to improve one’s own practice.

The above examples can be used independently or combined as part of a capacity development strategy.

For more details and information on the mentoring approach to capacity development and how it can support county governments perform their functions, follow this link:

Capacity Development Resources

This section presents a selection of downloadable resources on capacity development that can be used as a general reference or as tools and specific resources for use as part of capacity development activities, such as training.

General resources

National Capacity Building Framework, The Presidency and Ministry of Devolution and Planning (MODP), 2013

The strategy for public financial management reforms in Kenya, 2013-2018, (Revised 2016), National Treasury.

Delivering the Goods: Building Local Government Capacity to Achieve the Millennium Development Goals, United Nations Capital Development Fund (UNCDF), 2005


Resources on County Assembly Members Capacity Building

Training of County Assembly Members


Resources on Public Participation

Social accountability tools for county service delivery. Training for community mobilisers. AHADI. November 2018

Access to information (ATI) - Understanding and implementing Kenya's ATI Act. Training for public officials: Participants book. AHADI. March 2018

Read also the Toolkit page on Capacity Development Institutions