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Capacity Self Assessments help organisations achieve their goals

Published on: 20/08/2014

Improving the performance of the WASH sector to achieve services for life requires change within organisations and sector institutions. Such change cannot be achieved with standardised one-off training for individual staff. A short paper describes our experience in Indonesia with Capacity Self-Assessments, a tool to catalyse a participatory process towards continually improving organisational performance.

IRC is a partner of SHAW, an innovative water, sanitation and hygiene programme improving the lives of over 1.4 million people in East-Indonesia. SHAW- short for Sanitation, Hygiene and Water- is the first programme to apply the Government of Indonesia's Sanitasi Total Berbasis Masyarakat (STBM) strategy at scale.
Five Indonesian NGOs - Yayasan Rumsram, Yayasan Dian Desa, Yayasan Masyarakat Peduli, CD-Bethesda, and Plan Indonesia are working with communities and local governments in more than 1,000 villages to achieve improved health through sustained behaviour change. SHAW has also introduced a new methodology for community-based monitoring.

To effectively work at scale and towards sustained change driven by communities themselves, partner NGOs needed to develop new skills, knowledge and attitudes. They also needed to develop, test and implement new approaches. To help them identify their strengths and areas where targeted capacity development was needed, IRC applied an organisational capacity development tool, called the capacity self-assessment (CSA). A 7-page document describes the capacity self-assessment process and lessons learned, so that others may get inspired to apply the tool (see link below).

Capacity self-assessments help organisations assess their existing resources, capabilities and strategy in relation to their objectives. The output of a CSA workshop is a capacity development action plan, which will guide the organisation in strengthening its capacities. According to Erick Baetings, Senior Sanitation Specialist at IRC and facilitator of the CSAs in SHAW: "The CSA workshop is only the very first step in an extended capacity development process, which partners need to own and commit themselves to".

The capacity self-assessment workshops in SHAW proved to be a powerful tool to help partner organisations take responsibility for their own capacity development.

Successful CSAs require a high level of staff participation, a willingness to share responsibility and to listen to different, even conflicting points of view. "CSAs have proven useful for developing tailor-made capacity development activities instead of standard training for individual staff members. Training is only one of the many different tools that can be applied. Much of the learning takes place while developing and carrying out activities in the community" says Baetings.

He compares the capacity development process with the process a community will have to adopt to obtain STBM (Community-Based Total Sanitation) status. The CSA workshop is like the 'triggering' event that takes place in the early stages of community-level interventions. Unless there is an extensive trajectory of activities that follow triggering, the community is unlikely to reach STBM status on its own. Similarly, post-CSA follow-up is essential. In SHAW follow up included additional mentoring and hands-on training of partner NGO staff, for example on facilitation skills and support on designing operational guidelines.