LenCD strategy meeting, Washington 2008

The meetings in Washington were instrumental in agreeing on a South-North Governance structure, adopting the LenCD strategy 2009-2011, and endowing LenCD with an operation framework to receive and manage funds through a UNDP project.

Learning by Doing: From Policy to Action on Capacity Development

December 15-16, 2008, The World Bank, Washington DC

LenCD facilitates learning and promotes good practice in capacity development. The Learning Network on Capacity Development (LenCD) was founded in June 2004. It has played an important advocacy role in the aid effectiveness debate and has also aimed to support learning on capacity development in the broadest sense. The Washington meetings brought together 35 practitioners and agencies to strategize and reach consensus on LenCD’s work plan and working arrangements. The meetings were organized over two days, with a workshop on a proposed Capacity Development Learning Initiative on the first day and the LenCD strategy meeting on the second day.

1. Workshop on the CD Learning Initiative - Monday, 15 December 2008

The workshop focused on the Capacity Development Learning Initiative, which aims at supporting local or regional stakeholders moving their capacity development agenda forward in a specific sector or thematic context. The day explored the experiences and lessons of diverse players and sought ideas for shaping a learning program, potential partnerships and a vision of next steps. The initiative is timely and received much support around the table. It is seen as addressing real demand on the ground and therefore contributing to real impact. Participants agreed that it was important to draw lessons from experience and “close the learning loop”. The process of learning should be an end in itself, not treated as a by-product of other processes, and should be part of an overall learning framework. Though the network presently relies on existing contacts for identifying opportunities, LenCD was encouraged to open up swiftly to the “wisdom of the crowds”.

The three angles that were explored in some detail during the workshop were valid entry points for capacity development.  The sector-level experience in transport in Ethiopia has shown that the sector-level is a useful entry point where stakeholders are committed to address capacity issues. There was a clear display of interest to support such processes and events in particular by Denmark and EuropeAid. The workshop also focused on learning for CD in fragile contexts where support tends to be much more messy and difficult and the challenges even more complex. In this case also there was show of support for learning processes with local stakeholder groups, in particular by GTZ. The third area that was discussed in group work was the interface between civil society and government.  A learning initiative is under preparation with the Governance Issues Forum in Ghana.

Participants pointed to other areas, such as the mainstreaming of capacity development into medium-term development frameworks, poverty-reduction strategies, country capacity development strategies. The group’s advice was to start modestly but concretely and to expand based on drawing lessons, communicating experiences and mobilizing commitment. Several donors signalled support. It was further agreed that the two-page concept note on the learning initiative would be updated in light of the comments made and outreach to potential stakeholder groups and funders should start as soon as possible. The revised program documentation can be found at www.LenCD.org.

2. LenCD Strategic meeting - Tuesday, 16 December 2008

The day focused in the morning on network governance, coordination and working arrangements. The afternoon was dedicated to exploring potential partnerships and commenting on the strategy 2009-11.

2.1 Governance, coordination and working arrangements

The steering group will give strategic guidance to the LenCD coordinator who manages the implementation of the work plan on a day to day basis. The new team is representative of the broad constituency of LenCD, with equal representation from South and North, from diverse constituencies and regions. Originally, a group of six or seven members was felt to be about the right size but it became clear that it was more important to have the right people rather than the right numbers. For practical considerations, a one-year term was agreed by the end of which arrangements would be reviewed in light of the experience, likely in conjunction with a global LenCD Forum envisaged for fall 2009.

Participants split up into three constituencies (Southern partners, donors, multilaterals) to determine the first year’s steering group as follows: Janet Awimbo (Impact Alliance, Kenya), Apollinaire Ndorukwigira (ACBF, Harare), Talaat Abdel-Malek (Government of Egypt), Andreas Proksch (GTZ),  Niloy Banerjee (UNDP), Mark Nelson (World Bank), James Hradsky (OECD/DAC); further: Colombia (requested), the EC/EU (with Virginia Manzitti convening a European donor group to be defined) and JICA (participation of Ikufumi Tomimoto confirmed). The steering group agreed to appoint Janet Awimbo and Mark Nelson as co-chairs. The group applauded the outgoing chair Andreas Proksch and GTZ for the capable and engaged leadership over last two years.

Coordination: The work of the acting interim LenCD coordinator was recognized as having been instrumental in the process and the meeting agreed to ask Thomas Theisohn to serve in this position at least for the coming six months (available part-time). The steering group would take appropriate action during the coming 6 months.

Funding: For the core functions of LenCD, funding has been a challenge, and it is clear from contacts with prospective donors that it is certainly easier to finance specific programmes on the ground rather than a global support structure. Resource mobilization would require some creativity and a good degree of flexibility. Because of the need for a structure to manage funding and eventually personnel, UNDP agreed to create a project that would be set up to support LenCD.  While the option of creating a separate legal structure was discussed in previous LenCD meetings, this alternative did not seem viable at this stage. The steering group would address these and other issues like membership policy, regional nodes, and regular events at a later time.

2.2. Partnerships

The discussions reemphasized, that by its very nature, LenCD is a partnership effort. There are at least three groups of partnerships that have been identified:

  • Regional and country level partnerships: LenCD is encouraged to spend more energy to collaborate with partner agents in sub/regions and countries. The role of champions in the regions will be very important.
  • Global knowledge architecture on CD: There are a good number of potential global partners, and the discussions emphasized the added value of LenCD playing a role in rationalizing the global knowledge architecture around capacity development.
  • Partnership around the Aid Effectiveness Agenda: Further building on the momentum gained in Accra, the partnership with the DAC and with the emerging Capacity Development Alliance should continue to be a strategic anchor for LenCD’s work.

There was a sense that LenCD would have a role to play as a kind of “meta-convenor” in connecting diverse initiatives, encouraging synergies between efforts and operational scaling up. The participants approved of the approach that much of LenCD’s activities would be handled through “partnership initiatives”.

2.3. LenCD strategy and work plan 2009-11

The proposed LenCD strategy was subject to discussion in particular in the afternoon session on Tuesday 16/12. The strategy was endorsed and comments were made that will inform the shaping of the project document and work plan. Key points included:

  • Some argued for a stronger focus on the Accra Agenda for Action and more specific outcome indicators to respond clearer to the question “Capacity for what?” Others maintained that LenCD needed to remain flexible and open to genuine demand, which may go beyond the aid effectiveness agenda and assume its own dynamic. Both perspectives were seen as complementary. It was agreed that the Aid Effectiveness agenda will remain a central focus for LenCD while remaining flexible to respond to genuine demand. The function of “closing the learning loop” and bringing lessons back to policy and implementation was seen as central to LenCD’s mandate.
  • Key issues that were proposed for further work included: CD strategies (country, sector, thematic); South-South cooperation, Incentive issues and motivation; Country systems; measurement of capacity development, fragile contexts, alternatives to TA, quality standards for CD support, genuine demand versus supply, conceptual and methodological issues. There is clear convergence conclusions from the Bonn workshop and the issues identified in the Accra Agenda for Action.
  • Ability to respond to demand was raised as a critical issue to address. Once LenCD positions itself to be able to respond to demand it will be under pressure to deliver. Timeliness of response is critical and LenCD’s credibility will depend on it. It was therefore important to be clear of who we want to serve.
  • While LenCD’s work may be around knowledge management it may have a potentially important role to play in handling operations with a certain budgetary throughput and delivery of services. The CD learning programme requiring contracting represents one example in question.
  • The objectives generally received strong support with a sense that they may be tightened. The work plan should be structured to correspond to the objectives. Several participants cautioned against providing policy advice may become problematic. Emphasis should be genuine learning, with a well-defined learning framework.

3. Next steps

With a clear mandate to move ahead, the steering group and the LenCD coordinator will by February 2009 agree on the work plan with a focus on the first 6 months. The UNDP project that will support LenCD work should be functional by March 2009. Coordination arrangements will be reviewed and adjusted as pertinent in the second quarter of 2009.

Priority actions in the coming months include: the approval of the UNDP project and funding arrangements; promoting the CD Learning Initiative; outreach to potential donors; encouraging regional partnerships in Africa and Asia, potentially in Latin America to connect with mainstream CD efforts; forming working groups around thematic priorities; explore rationalizing the international architecture around CD, and developing the required tools and processes supporting the community of practice. A global LenCD forum is envisaged for late fall 2009.




Day 1 – Monday December 15, 2008


Welcome and review of workshop agenda and objectives

-        The idea of a CD learning program

-        Objectives of the workshop 

-        Introduction to participants


Panel 1: CD learning and civil society engagement

Objective:  Explore perspectives, roles and partnership opportunities for civil society and private sector in learning initiatives

 Moderated panel followed by open discussion.


Coffee break


Working groups

Groups will consider concrete cases and contexts. Resource person in each group is charged with keeping debate focused on concrete outcomes and recommendations.

PLEASE NOTE: Topics are indicative and may be revised based on demand.

Group 1

Group 2

Group 3

Post-conflict and fragile contexts

Sector settings

Civil Society engagement

Systemic CD in DRC

Pilot experience Ethiopia

Interface capacities (Ghana)


Results: Each group identifies:

-       Learning materials, content and resources useful in the given contexts

-       Approaches and partnerships that may be appropriate

-       Conclusions for further shaping a learning program



Working groups report back to plenary


Brown Bag Lunch Seminar: “Capacity Development after the Accra High Level Forum on Aid Effectiveness: Where Do We Go from Here?” (Main Building, MC5-100)




Panel 2: CD Learning and the Aid Effectiveness Agenda after Accra

Objective:  Define concrete recommendations for a learning approach to support aid effectiveness agenda and achieving Accra commitments on CD

 Moderated discussion


Coffee break




What kind of partnerships?

·       Possible partners

·       Country-level and donor staff combinations?

·       Partnership with Train4Dev

·       Partnerships with local institutions, consultants and universities

·       The role of South-South learning and how to make this a reality

A vision to move forward and next steps

Intervention by Sanjay Pradhan, Vice-President, World Bank Institute





Day 2 – Tuesday December 16, 2008


Welcome and opening


-        LenCD strategy and work plan 2009-2011: An overview


            Moderated discussion



Coffee break




Working groups

Groups will be formed around elements of the strategy, work plan and partner initiatives.


·  Knowledge brokering and learning exchange (incl. CD learning initiative)

·  Developing regional and subregional networking and learning platforms

·  LenCD governance, modes of work, recruitment of coordinator, funding etc.

·  Other topics on demand


Results: Each group identifies:

  • Specific recommendations for the period 2009-11
  • Opportunities, initiatives and partnerships
  • Recommendations for moving forward








Plenary session: Reports from the working groups



Coffee on the side



-        Establish a new governance structure

-        Appoint Executive Management Team for the 1st year

-        Agree on a time line and key benchmarks for 2009

-        Pledges for funding LenCD


Next steps





Day 3 – Wednesday December 17, 2008


Special event at USAID


Participants will participate in morning session with USAID staff and other invitees (Agenda provided separately)


Event details
Monday, 15 December, 2008 - Wednesday, 17 December, 2008
Event type: 
LenCD network event

Upcoming events

There are no upcoming LenCD events.
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