Capacity Development of Sub-National State Administrations in Post-Conflict / Post-Disaster Context - Advantages and Limitations

  • State non-state service provision: In fragile states, donors/implementing organisations are inclined to fund delivery of basic services.  On the other side of the equation is the need to rebuild sustainable public-sector capacity. This method shows how this can be achieved even for projects with limted time periods.
  • Services now vs institutional / organisation strengthening: Even though this is a difficult trade-off involving balancing the humanitarian imperative to provide immediate services in low capacity settings against the need to rebuild public institutions and their capacity to deliver services, it is possible if the state is properly involved in the process from the outset. Even where the state is exceptionally weak, it must at least fulfil its “control” function and must be capacitated to do this.  
  • Immediate security vs community resilience/ long-term stability: Priority of development measures in conflict affected or post-conflict fragile countries often address security first. However, capacity development approaches have to quickly address approaches for re-building of democratic governance to increase political legitimacy.
  • External actors and local capacity: It is much harder in post conflict situations to have sufficient local capacity, it is either not available or has been recruited by donor funded organisations. Despite this limitation the state institutions must be involved in managing the public resources from the outset.
  • Technical vs political: Post conflict post disaster projects that promote capacity development focuses more on provision of resources, skills/knowledge, and organisation targets rather than politics, power, and incentives. This is easy to plan and finance as it is within the ambit of most donor organisations.  The focus on political issues which are equally important but harder to address is often left out or ignored, especially in the immediate post-conflict post disaster setting.
  • It is often hard to balance the “two track problem” of service delivery and public sector capacity development, where the two tracks have fundamentally different strategies and timeframes.
  • The pressure for quick response in fragile states with weak and destroyed capacity, where needs for services are immediate, forces donor organisations to look to alternative sources of capacity to fill gaps (e.g. external expertise, NGOs, private sector, etc.).
  • Athough there are easy ways of implementing projects that ignore existing local capacity and/or put off attention to institution-building this approach creates dependency and reduces the chances for sustainability and legitimacy.


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