Capacity Building of Local Health Organizations – May 24-26, 2016

DAY 1: Tuesday, May 24, 2016: Introduction to the Demand-Driven Approach to Capacity Building

Welcome to this three-day seminar on Capacity Building of Local Health Organizations: Balancing Demand & Supply. This is an asynchronous seminar – log in any time over the next three days to check in on the discussion and share your ideas. You will also receive daily summaries by email.

If you already haven’t done so, please take some time to read the Technical Brief on Demand Driven Organizational Capacity Development which can be found in the Resources area for this seminar.

Who benefits from capacity building?

Health organizations and programs, whether they are public sector entities such as Ministries of Health, National AIDS Commissions, National TB Programs, National Family Planning, Maternal and Child Health Programs or Non-Governmental Organizations must prioritize internal organizational capacity building aimed at strengthening their efficiency, effectiveness and sustainability over time.

What is capacity building?

Internal capacity building and performance improvement is not a one-time activity or a once a year consultancy. It should be a sustained, structured, demand-driven process over time—intentional, coordinated and mission-driven efforts aimed at strengthening the leadership, management, and governance of organizations to improve their performance and impact.

Organizational capacity building is the strengthening of internal organizational structures, systems, and process, management, leadership and governance and overall staff capacity to enhance organizational, team and individual performance.

Why capacity building?

Organizations must have the capacity to plan, implement, monitor and account for results in their services and programs. This critical capacity requires organizational development or strengthening in areas such as:

  • leadership development
  • strategic planning
  • business planning
  • program design and evaluation
  • board development
  • financial management
  • revenue generation and financial sustainability efforts
  • administrative controls
  • information systems
  • monitoring and evaluation and reporting systems
  • project management
  • team building
  • quality assurance systems and processes
  • human resources management
  • overall management
  • and others

Improvements in these areas as they are directly tied to the sustained delivery of quality, accessible health services and expansion of services. If organizations are weak and disorganized internally and poorly governed and led, the consequences are predictable.

Most development partners are actively seeking to transfer more programs and contracts to local implementing organizations, and ensure program effectiveness, cost effectiveness, institutional accountability and transparency, and foster country ownership. Demand-driven, prioritized, context-specific and evidence-based organizational capacity building is a tested, effective strategy that can provide important support for these goals.


During this seminar we hope to learn from each other’s experiences. After briefly reviewing the demand-driven capacity building conceptual approach in the Technical Brief (pages 6-7), we invite you to share your own experiences by participating in the forum and answering the following questions:


We had a slow but interesting first day of our seminar, and congratulations to all members who were able to log on and participate. Although several of you logged on, only a few made any posts. We would encourage the rest of you to post and share your experiences and insights. This is your platform – please use it, learn from it.

If there is one strong message that one of the discussion threads (D1Q1: Why does organizational capacity building matter?) today illuminated for us, it should be the absolute and unequivocal need and importance of organizational capacity building – if at all we are going to leave behind a legacy with enduring returns. In other words, we all reminded one another that organizational capacity building is not only necessary but essential for organizational maturity and sustainability.

Many participants remarked on the importance of organizational capacity building to ensure continued growth in health systems, especially those systems found within low and middle-income countries. The idea that poorly managed organizations devoid of capacity building measures directly disadvantage projects was echoed in multiple comments, and one participant suggested that poor infrastructure explains the failure of projects after international support has been removed.

Autry Haynes of Guyana discussed the idea of accountability in health systems and the importance of members understanding their contributions. He also noted that organizational capacity building is necessary in order to meet the demands for a more efficient, effective, and impact-service oriented global health system.

Sani Bala Shehu of Nigeria claimed that without proper investment in health systems states may fall into ‘catastrophe’, highlighting the necessity of well-developed and strong organizations.

Day One, Question Two: What are the merits & demerits of adopting a demand-driven approach?

Participants were asked to review the technical brief pages 6-7 and to reference specific examples or experiences in their responses to the questions.

Discussion of a demand-driven approach to capacity building saw participants discussing their own experiences with capacity building measures. Multiple participants noted that an emphasis on content or lack of regard for local custom and internally recognized issues resulted in poor implementation of capacity building measures. Both the UNDP approach and USAID’s complexity aware monitoring approach were cited as potential frameworks for organizational capacity building.

Finally, tomorrow (Day 2 of the seminar) we shall explore in a bit more detail the role of teams and strong leadership in the planning and effective implementation of capacity building interventions. Please visit the seminar page as well as the discussion page where you will find the discussion questions for the day posted.

We look forward to an even more exciting day. Please encourage your friends and colleagues to join and participate.