There is no common definition of capacity building, particularly among different departments and stakeholders – one of the challenges faced when it comes to coordinating interventions. However, in a broad sense, the term can relate to anything from improved governance, technical advice, and programme development to fundraising, managing human resources, and skills training.
The purpose of capacity building is to improve the functionality, performance and service delivery of local government.
The National Capacity Building Framework for Local Government defines capacity as “the potential for something to happen”, viewing it through the lenses of individual, institutional and environmental capacity.
- Individual capacity refers to staff members’ qualifications, experience and competence (knowledge, skills and attitude) required for specific jobs, as defined during the Local Government Skills Audit. This is reflected through the staff members’ (including councillors) specific qualifications, experience and functional/technical, managerial/leadership and generic competence, acquired through education, training, development, experience, networks, values, membership of a professional body, and so on. Individual capacity building is a process that increases the capability of individuals to deliver a service.
- Institutional capacity refers to the potential or competency within municipalities, and capacity building within this context is a process of creating more responsive, effective, efficient and accountable municipalities through support, capacity building and training initiatives.
- Environmental capacity is the potential or competency outside a municipality’s formal structures, which contribute to a conducive environment for a municipality to operate. This encompasses socioeconomic, demographic, geographic, infrastructural and other resources. Environmental capacity building refers to an integrated strategy that addresses development indicators and builds both individual and institutional capacity.