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Capacity Assessment Methodology User’s Guide

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UNDP has developed a methodology for conducting capacity assessments that is systematic and rigorous, yet flexible and adaptable to different contexts and needs. It does not offer a blueprint, but serves as a point of departure for a capacity assessment. The UNDP Capacity Assessment Methodology consists of three components – the UNDP Capacity Assessment Framework, a process and supporting tools. This publication introduces the process and supporting tools. The UN approach to Capacity Development and Capacity Assessment is presented in the Practice Notes. 

The Capacity Assessment Methodology User’s Guide provides UNDP and other development practitioners with an overview of UNDP’s approach to Capacity Development and Capacity Assessment and a step-by-step guide to conducting a capacity assessment using UNDP’s “default” Capacity Assessment Framework and Supporting Tool. 

This User’s Guide should be used in conjunction with the Practice Notes as they provide explanations of terms and concepts referenced herein.   

The Capacity Assessment Framework is composed of three dimensions:

  • Points of Entry: UNDP recognises that a country’s capacity resides on different levels – enabling environment, organisation and individual – and thus needs to be addressed across these levels. A capacity assessment team selects one level as its point of entry, and may “zoom in” or “zoom out” from that level as needed. (Capacity assessments at the individual level are generally conducted within the context of an organisational assessment; as such, they are not addressed in detail in the Practice Note on Capacity Assessment or this User’s Guide.)
  • Core Issues: These represent the issues upon which UNDP is most often called to address. Not all of these issues will necessarily be analysed in any given assessment, but they provide a comprehensive set of issues from which a capacity assessment team may choose as it defines its scope: 1) leadership; 2) policy and legal framework; 3) mutual accountability mechanisms; 4) public engagement; 5) human resources; 6) financial resources; 7) physical resources; and 8) environmental resources. The issue of a human rights based approach serves as an “overlay” on any capacity assessment (it can either overlay all selected cross-sections or act as a stand-alone core issue).
  • Cross-Cutting Functional Capacities: Specific functional capacities are necessary for the successful creation and management of policies, legislations, strategies and programmes. UNDP has chosen to prioritise the following functional capacities, which exist at all three points of entry and for all core issues: 1) engage in multi-stakeholder dialogue; 2) analyse a situation and create a vision; 3) formulate policy and strategy; 4) budget, manage and implement; and 5) monitor and evaluate.