Capacity Strengthening & Professional Development


Capacity building is integral to the International Centre for Evaluation and Development’s (ICED‘s) efforts that seeks to provide, inspire, and support thought and practice leadership in evaluation profession. The evaluation profession is becoming a very fashionable field of work worldwide, and as such is attracting people who may lack sufficient skills and insights to do justice to the demands of the profession. Professionals need the ability to understand development challenges in the Global South in depth, nuance and sensitivity to culture and context.

ICED seeks to strengthen evaluation professional capacity and practices through training, mentoring, couching and exposure that – in collaboration with universities and other education and training initiatives – fill gaps in current efforts in the Global South. The Evaluation profession will bring to bear on its theory and practice expertise from other disciplines and perspectives from unconventional sources. The professionalisation efforts intended here are poised to encourage new entrants into the evaluation profession and ICED will work collaboratively with academic institution in establishing courses of study. To do this requires agility and strong professional networks, especially from different professions and disciplines in the currently under-represented Global South, in order to lead and stay current in a fast-moving world.

ICED is dedicated to the advancement of evaluation theory and practice in the Global South through offering evaluation professional trainings in three main areas:

  • Leadership Skills Development
  • Evaluation Communications
  • Management Decision-making

Evaluation must be conceived and designed with a thorough understanding of the initiative and the context within which it operates. The capacity building needs to be tailored and designed for the context in which it occur

Definition of Terms

Capacity here refers the ability of individuals and organizations or organizational units to perform functions effectively, efficiently and sustainably. ICED uses the term Capacity Building to refer to the enhancement of the abilities of stakeholder to evaluate and address crucial questions related to policy choices and different options for development with the intention of facilitating or catalysing capacity development and related change processes at the individual, organization and societal levels

Individual capacity building refers to the education or training of individuals on theory and practice of evaluation

Organizational capacity building is focused on developing and fostering an environment for the use of evaluation for development in the Global South to enhance decision making

Institutional/System capacity building is related to strengthening and restructuring existing institutions and supporting them in forming sound policies, organizational structures, and effective methods of management, an approach that covers the institutional and organizational perspectives

Rethinking Evaluation as a Profession

Capacity building is an evidence-driven process that aims at strengthening the abilities of individuals, organizations, and systems to perform core functions sustainably, and to continue to improve and develop over time. Capacity development for Evaluation as a Profession should be a more deliberate process whereby people, organisations or society takes primary responsibility for change process as a whole by creating, strengthening and maintaining capacity over time.

Evaluation is a profession composed of persons with varying interests, potentially encompassing but not limited to the evaluation of programs, products, personnel, policy, performance, proposals, technology, research, theory and practice, and even of evaluation itself. Evaluation involves assessing the strengths and weaknesses of programs, policies, personnel, products, and organizations to improve their effectiveness.

ICED believes that evaluation capacity building initiatives (the profession and practice of evaluation) are still evolving in the Global South. African countries, for example, have set in place or are in the process of establishing national monitoring and evaluation (M&E) systems to bolster the achievement of their development results, however, recent studies reveal that systems are not functioning as expected. According to the African Capacity Repot (ACR), one of the pervasive capacity challenge facing the continent is the inability to achieve development results at the national level. In part, this is attributed to inadequate capacity or requisite technical capabilities at the individual and organizational levels, including weak institutional arrangements.

ICED intends to address this shortcomings through developing an evaluation culture of valuing evidence, valuing questioning, and valuing evaluative thinking as a profession. This will require developing and building on human capital (knowledge and skills), institutional capital (infrastructure and processes) and social capital (supportive networks) for effectively managing, undertaking and using evaluations.

Our capacity building programs will driven by clearly defined objectives that state what the initiative is intended to achieve and how it will accomplish its objectives. Partnerships remains a fundamental component of an effective capacity building strategy in the context of establishing ownership, support, and sustainability of capacity building interventions.

Furthermore, ICED recognizes that Evaluation for Development is a specialised profession that demands significant levels of evaluative thinking and ethics, appropriate work experience, and technical expertise far beyond the application of social research methods. Professionals need the ability to understand development challenges in the Global South in depth, nuance and sensitivity to culture and context.

Conceptual Framework Underpinning Capacity Building

IECD capacity building conceptual framework addresses three integrated and reinforcing components: individual, organizational, and systems within a social, cultural, and economic Global South setting. The diagram below illustrates ICED’s framework for defining, capturing, and communicating evaluation impact (Figure 1). The framework lays emphasis on the interrelationship of the three components— the individual, organizational and systems— often requiring concurrent and sustained capacity strengthening of all levels over time (Figure 1).

The capacity of an individual, an organization or a society is not static. It changes over time, and is subject to both internal and external influences. Many of these changes are unintentional. For example, an organization can lose capacity if key individuals leave or change positions within that organization.

The framework strives to be aligned with program efforts (i.e. goals/activities), and that its outputs, performance outcomes, and program impacts are documented. The framework is intended to support organizations to better articulate the full breadth and depth of their capacity building efforts and develop ways to measure the degree to which an intervention (or a Program) with the intention of facilitating or catalysing capacity development and related change processes at the individual, organization and societal levels leading to measurable improvements in outputs, outcomes and impact.

Figure 1. ICED Capacity Building Framework: Evaluation as Profession in the Global South

In this framework, capacity comprises the sum of the capabilities of individual/group, organization and/or systems. Exploring capacity building through this lens can help governments and development partners diagnose capacity strengths and weaknesses and thus offer significant potential to enhance evaluation theory.

At the Individual Level, capacity building activities are designed within the context of the organization and systems that will ensure the sustainability of activities, outputs, and outcomes. The individual capacity building initiative strive to improve the performance of individuals/staff according to specific, defined skills and competencies and job requirements.

Capacity building at the Organizational Level, is intended to facilitate and accelerate the development of sustainable institutions. It strives to help build the capability of an organization to achieve effectively what it sets out to do. In other words, it seeks to improve the performance of internal organizational systems and processes leading to stronger organizations with the ability to adapt and continue to develop over time. It is critical that the interventions be based on training needs assessment and that they be designed to improve the organization‘s overall performance and its ability to adapt itself within a changing context, and not be limited to immediate program implementation needs

At the Systems and Policy Level, capacity building activities aims to improve the external environment in which organizations and individuals function, including structures supporting the way organizations interact as well as policies and standards that must be adhered to. Capacity building at the systems level requires synergies across system components.

Training Programs Overview

The ICED Training is an executive training program that aims to provide evaluation professionals with the knowledge, skills and tools required to evaluate development policies, programs, and projects in the Global South. Drawing on ICED’s robust practical experience of implementing capacity building initiatives and guided by its principles of investing in individual, institutional and systems capacity building that can advance though leadership and innovative action the Global South. ICED has developed a training programs in collaboration with universities and other education institution in Africa that will extend and complement its work across five programmatic areas.

The training program draws on a diverse professional backgrounds and demonstrated competencies and experiences within the organization and its network of partners globally to offer different forms of training programs to strengthen individual and institutional capacities in the Global South. The training program operates as a self-propagating initiative with potential to enable ICED leverage additional resources to support its other core mandates while providing essential services to the Global South.

The training programs focus on three thematic areas:

  • Leadership Skills Development Program: The program focuses on developing individual and organizational leadership skills and applying those skills to enhance evaluation theory and practice.
  • Evaluation Communication: This training program targets evaluation professionals with diverse backgrounds with the aim of bridging existing communication gaps and facilitating greater translation and use of the best available evidence from data, research, and evaluation in policy formulation and program improvement in the Global South.
  • Management Decision Making: The program focuses on supporting evaluation professions at African institutions and organizations to lead and drive change within their organizations and the Global South more generally.

Capacity Strengthening & Professional Development Projects