Capacity Development has been one of IICD’s Guiding Principles since its inception in 1996. Although the activities and approaches evolved over time to suit IICD’s partners’ and programmes’ requirements, the development of human, organisational and institutional capacity to enable and sustain the effective use of ICTs has been a central element in IICD’s work throughout the years.
One of the main goals of IICD’s work in countries has been to support a group of organisations within a particular sector (e.g. Education, Health, Agriculture, etc.) to design and implement ICT-enabled programmes and solutions. Organisations and institutions that participate in the programmes were the key actors in providing information services, content, or field support to disadvantaged or vulnerable groups in that sector in low-income countries. Such organisations often had not employed ICT strategically to support their activities and programmes, if they had worked with ICT at all. By supporting local development-oriented organisations to conceive ways in which ICTs could be employed to support their work, to formulate appropriate and sustainable project plans, to implement technologies and activities, and to share and analyse their experiences and lessons with a wider group of sector stakeholders, IICD played a significant role in enhancing individual, organisational, and sector capacity to harness the potential offered by ICT.
In order for the processes to result in maximum local capacity to manage and sustain innovation within the sector, highly participatory approaches formed the foundation for IICD’s programmes. Capacity development in this process included traditional approaches based on expert instruction, but was not limited to that. IICD supported staff from partner organisations and associated user groups to:
- enhance their awareness of appropriate technologies through Sector- and Technical Seminars,
- build technical ICT and ICT usage skills through trainer-led workshops, on-the-job training support and computer-based learning materials,
- obtain advice on selection and design of information systems from expert consultants and developers, and
- create capacity to train and support larger groups of users and beneficiaries of the systems and services through tailored Train-the-Trainer programmes.
A fundamental aspect of IICD’s support to partner organisations was to couple funding for training activities with the development and implementation of on-the-ground projects, which allowed for practical on-the-job learning opportunities for staff and teams. This learning-by-doing approach was ingrained throughout the lifecycle of a project or programme, and contributed significantly to the ability of individuals and organisations involved in the IICD-supported programmes to form a strong basis of experience to share and build on.
The support that IICD’s programmes provided in enabling individual, organisational and sector capacities to be enhanced, changed according to the stage in which a particular sector programme was. From the highly participatory approaches employed in the Round Table workshop at the start of the process, to the expert instruction and advice provided through training and coaching, informed by the experiential learning approach to system development and deployment, through to the social learning processes and co-creation of knowledge in M&E Focus Groups (see Participatory M&E section) and knowledge sharing networks (see ICT4D Networking section), IICD’s work was guided by ‘Capacity Development as Principle’ throughout.