The world has just seven years left to reach the internationally-agreed Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), including the overarching goal of cutting extreme poverty in half by 2015. While additional financial resources will be essential to reaching these targets, success will ultimately hinge on how able people, organizations and societies are to transform their lives for the better.
For local authorities in the aftermath of conflict, societies struggling to meet rising food prices or states dependant on highly volatile commodity markets, effective change can be one of the hardest things to get right as the capacity to change is often limited. Without sufficient capacity like effective leadership and succession planning, aid coordination and financial management skills, a functioning civil service, a skilled labour force or an environment conducive to business countries lack the foundations on which to plan, implement and evaluate their development strategies. Capacity development works to strengthen this foundation.
If human development is the 'what' of UNDP's mandate, then capacity development is essentially the 'how'. UNDP works with national governments to identify what capacity exists in terms of skills, knowledge, institutions and relationships. Driven by the priorities of the country in question, it looks as how to retain what is there, what can be improved upon, where the gaps are and how to fill them, so that the countries' human development strategies can move from aspiration to implementation.
UNDP South Africa provides technical and policy support to address the shortage of skills, the misapplication of resources, corruption through the development of models of system approaches that can be applied to effectively align skills and resources. This entails the following:
- UNDP South Africa utilises the capacity of UN volunteers and national volunteers as a short-term measure to catalyse capacity in existing structures.
- UNDP provides expertise to create mechanisms that can most effectively bring in targeted competencies and develop frameworks that harmonise training for sustainability with delivery impact.
- UNDP provides technical support for accelerating the learning curve for sustainability across all three tiers of government and to tailor responses for specific contexts.
- Working collaboratively with DPSA (SAMDI), DBSA and UNDP-SACI designing effective models of service delivery for sharing in the region. UNDP also work with DPSA to develop innovative and responsive human capital support strategies for enhanced impact and sustainability, as well as promote through available expertise the systems dynamics approach that looks at holistic, multidisciplinary solutions to delivery issues and seeks to apply and up-scale them both nationally and regionally.
- Promote knowledge sharing and policy development initiatives within the context of IBSA's South-South cooperation agenda, particularly through the sharing of trade and development experiences and to work with research institutions such as UNDP's International Poverty Centre to develop regional interventions.