Capacity Development Programs In Context Of Afghanistan

Afghanistan is a landlocked country located within South Asia. Afghanistan is bordered by Pakistan in the south and east; Iran in the west; Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, and Tajikistan in the north; and in the far northeast, China. Its territory covers 652, 000 square kilometers (252, 000 sq mi) and much of it is covered by the Hindu Kushmountain range, which experience very cold winters. The north consists of fertile plains, whilst the south-west consists of deserts where temperatures can get very hot in summers. Kabul serves as the capital and its largest city.

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Human habitation in Afghanistan dates back to the Middle Paleolithic Era, and the country’s strategic location along the Silk Road connected it to the cultures of the Middle East and other parts of AsiaPost conflict reconstruction in Afghanistan has taken place since 2001 in a context of dramatic lack of capacity and the country had to rely heavily upon donor funded Technical Assistance TA. Reliance on technical assistance was a part of the strategy to buy capacity. From 2002 to 2014, on average, donors spent between $250 million and $1 billion annually on technical assistance projects, recruiting national and international staff. However, a large portion of technical assistance programmes was off-budget. According to an estimation by the Finance Ministry of Afghanistan, as of 2010, 7000 Afghans were working with civilian ministries, referred to as externally funded staff and recruited through donor-funded projects outside the government budgetary process. In 2011, 5000 externally funded staff worked (almost all Afghans) in eight key ministries and one agency. No reliable data is available on the total number of consultants that worked with non-state actors. However, the technical assistance programmes were ineffective. In 2008, a study sponsored by the Agency Coordinating Body for Afghan Relieve found that even though “One quarter of all aid to Afghanistan has been allocated to technical assistance which is intended to build government capacity, much of this assistance has been wasteful, donor-driven, and of limited impact. ”

But now both the Government and donors are concerned that less than expected is being achieved in terms of capacity building, and to continue with TAs are also expensive and not sustainable. The only ways, that could help the situation in country is to build the capacity for replacing the TAs and bring efficiencies/ sustainability in the government offices. Capacity building programs are promoting an organization’s ability to do new things and improve what they currently do. Most simply, capacity building improves the organization’s performance and enhances its ability to better function and continue to stay relevant within a rapidly changing environment. There are many reasons which casus failure and success in a training program. Based on the provided reasons Afghanistan Is in need to build the capacity of the most government offices for better and efficient services delivery. Hence, to achieve this goal accurately we need to find out how to design a capacity building program in context of Afghanistan to prevent unit failure. The ‘enabling environment’ represents the broad context within which development processes take place. Experience suggests that this environment may in fact be either enabling or constraining, or possibly a mix of both. For example, poorly conceived policies, high levels of corruption, or lack of legitimacy can make for a highly ‘disabling’ environment with significant consequences for development initiatives. On the other hand, sound policies, high levels of commitment, effective coordination, and a stable economic environment can be important contributors to an enabling environment which can greatly increase prospects for success. Attempts to effect change at the enabling environment level generally take a considerable length of time given the nature of the issues being addressed – policies, structures, attitudes, values etc. While not all capacity development initiatives will seek to effect change in the enabling environment, they will need to be sensitive to factors at this level which may have an impact (positive or negative) on initiatives which are focused primarily on the organizational, sectoral or individual level.

Literature Review

This section provides a brief review of the existing research and theories on capacity development and relevant concepts in Afghanistan. to develop a conceptual framework for this research. I begin with the definitions of capacity and capacity development. Capacity development is a long-term process. Yet, capacity development projectsare frequently required to produce short-term quantifiable results. This pressure on short-termresults can jeopardize the whole process, and may cause the CD projects to fail indeveloping capacities. Capacity Development CD is determined by motivation systems, capacity development involvements “work well where motivations — monetary and non-monetary are favorable and fail where they are not”. This specifies that motivations are influencing the success of CD interferences, so encouragement systems are part of institutional factors inducing the results of CD interventions. Motivation systems not only determine employees’ inspiration to use their capacities to perform better, but also govern their motivation to involve in the process of informal and formal workplace learning. CD programs usually provide some encouragements that are intended to produce positive results, but some of these externally introduced incentives change the existing incentives and in fact dishearten local initiative, because brain drain, and ignore sustainability.

The organizational and technical abilities, relationships and values that enable countries, organizations, groups and individuals at any level of society to carry out functions and achieve their development objectives over time Morgan (1998). On the other hand, capacity development refers to the approaches, strategies and methodologies which are used by national participants and/or outside interveners to help organizations and/or systems to improve their performance”.

The process of capacity development is fundamentally changeable. The process ofcapacity development is a change process, and it is therefore disorganized, unpredictable, andemerging. Yet most of capacity development projects give considerable effort to developing the clear objectives, answerability, long-term planning, and meeting predeterminedrequirements in capacity development projects. Social change is impossible toforecast or regulat because the link between causes and effects are non-linear and difficultto trace, and a small change or action can lead to big variations in the system throughresponse loops. The process of social change is more like a detectionprocess. Continuing learning and adaptation are the key for success in social changeinvolvements including capacity development projects. The same is true for the learningprocess too. Consequently, assessing capacity development just based on the fixed objectives and indicators is confusing. Possession is a pre-condition for capacity expansion. Despite this irregularrelationship between stakeholders of development projects, the literature stresses thestanding of local ownership and authorizing the local beneficiaries, and the researchhas shown that projects “commanding a sense of ownership by target beneficiaries andstakeholders have clearly performed better than those that did not”. Smithers (2011) refers to several major cross-country studies that provide supportingevidence that stakeholder ownership is critical to the success of development programs.

The studies include Independent Evaluation Group (IEG) evaluation of Public SectorReform, the Capacity, Change and Performance, country-casestudy, and the Asian Development Bank (ADB) 2007 AnnualEvaluation Review. Capacity development literature shows that the impact of capacity developmentprograms, particularly those financed by aid agencies in Afghanistan, is doubtful and oftenunsatisfactory. I think there are atleast two clarifications for this matter: (1) simplistic designs of capacity enhancement programs and (2) result based assessment strategies.

The design of many capacity development programs is simplistic and does notconsider the complexities of capacity development methods. Training is themost commonly used, and often the only, modality for capacity development. Training iseasier to implement compared to other modalities like mentoring or cultural change, andit is easier to report using quantitative indicators such as the number of workshops, thenumber of trainees, etc. Capacity development is a complexprocedure, and the capacity development interferences should be designed considering thecomplexities. For example, the low performance of an organization may be due to itscultural standards that do not support changes in the individual employees performs. Training employees on precise skills and practices will not be enough, and a culturalchange interference (or a combination of several modalities) could be more operative.

Vallejo & Wehn (2016) propose an alternative approach for evaluating capacitydevelopment programs: Complex Adaptive Systems (CAS) approach. This methodemphases on the changes in behaviors and relationships of the capacity development projectmembers, rather than on specific per-determined indicators. This method is open toidentify unplanned changes, both positive and negative. This scheme is not as commonas the technocratic style. I have so far studied the capacity development literature and initiate that, there are rare systematic outlines or theories to guide the training of capacity development. I also found that while learning is a key module of capacity development, there are no explicit references to theories of learning in the capacity development literature. As Lusthaus, Adrien, and Perstinger (1999) draw attention to, considering capacity development as an umbrella idea that has both positive and negative sides. On the positive side, the idea can bring together different stakeholders from diverse disciplines to admit capacity development as the main task of development. On the negative side, the idea has become too wide and “is used as a slogan rather than as a term for rigorous development work” There are different kinds of factors that affect the employees’ workroom learning; an operative capacity development program interference, thus, should study these factors and bring changesin the contextual factors to enhance informal learning of the employees. Therefore, there are several definitions of learning too, depending on the underlying theories. However, enduring change is a component of almost all definitions of learning. The idea of capacity can be deliberate at different levels from individual level to national level. Morgan (1998) used the symbol of onion to describe several different levels of capacity fluctuating from macro (context and environment) to micro (individual) levels. Though, in general, capacity development can take place at three levels. First, the micro level, wherever capacity is a typical of individuals and capacity development is well-defined as developing knowledge, skills, and boldness of individuals. Second, capacity can be defined at a meso level referring to organizations and small systems. For this level of capacity, Simister and Smith (2010) use the following definition: “the capability of an organization to achieve effectively what it sets out to do”. The focus of capacity development at this level is on organizational policies, procedures, structure, etc.

The third level, the macro level, refers to the level of state and/or public sector, also called the enabling environment or the institutional level. Understand the variance between the meso and macro levels that suggests “institutions are the rules of the game in a society or, more formally, are the humanly devised constraints that shape human interaction”. In consequence they structure motivations in human argument whether political, social, or economic”. Organizations is defined as groups of individuals assured by some common purpose to achieve objectives”. Institutions are the rules of the game and organizations are the way humans’ structure themselves to play. Therefore, capacity development at institutional level comprise improving the rules of the game such as refining legislative documents such as constitution, laws, and bylaws, and/or culturalnorms. These institutional rules of the game define patterns of incentives, sanctions, andpressures that influence the process of capacity development.

The capacity development project, questions of capacity “for what?” and “for whom?” get up, that needs making political choices. The project’s recipients, as well as other people or organization involved in the project, have often different values, benefits, and controls, and the decisions such as capacity “for what” and “for whom”, arefrequently influenced by the values and benefits of high-power, conquered groups. FukudaParr (2002) declares that donors and other development organizations have higher power than other shareholders in development projects (particularly recipients) and employ power and authority in development processes). Since the financing of development interferences comes from donors, and they have control of the purse strings, they typically control the design, implementation, and assessment of development programs). Underneath aid dependency, “relationships and bargaining power between agents are highly unequal, and social, political and economic development interests and priorities may differ substantially between them”. Morgan (2006) also believes that capacity development ideas are predisposed by western ways of thinking including performance management, organizational development, political economy, institutional economy and sociology that have less resonance in many cultures.

15 April 2020

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