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A group level training in Heifer Cornerstones being held in the village of Khayarmara in Mohattari district of Nepal.  Photo by Puja Singh

by Puja Singh — Heifer Nepal 

The more one keeps up with the news and tries to understand the world’s poverty situation, the more it feels like unfortunate incidents are recurring. Natural disasters, famine and environment exploitations reoccur in the same areas where development goals were said to have been achieved. The 2010 famine in the Horn of Africa seemed all too familiar to the non-governmental organizations who rushed to the rescue. This brings about the question - What is missing?

Maybe a crucial component of development is addressed and accredited far less than it deserves. Let me introduce you to a new term: Capacity Development. Although a pertinent part of development work, capacity development as a term and a process seems to be lost in all the other big words and processes. It creeps up here and there, but is never a focus. A recent blog, Capacity building – isn't that what development is all about? by Jonathan Glennie reminds us of the important role that capacity development plays in sustainable development. The World Bank defines sustainable development as "Development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs." There is no way this can happen without capacity development.

Heifer understands the importance of capacity development and has incorporated it as a major component of its projects. Most of the project's budget and time is dedicated to capacity building trainings and discussions. Participants are trained in animal management, values-based management, financial management, etc. This has been credited by many evaluators including Western Michigan University as the reason behind Heifer’s success at the grassroots level. Heifer’s signature mechanism of Passing on the Gift™ assures that capacity continues to be developed within the community even without external intervention. Heifer’s trainings like the Cornerstones and gender equity continue to be transferred informally long after the funding stops. Isn’t this the ultimate goal of all our development work — that the work continues even after aid has stopped? Capacity development assures that this will happen.    

Puja Singh is Heifer's Nepal-based communications officer. You can follow her on Twitter here. 

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Heifer International

Heifer International is a nonprofit, non-governmental organization working with communities to end hunger and poverty while caring for the Earth.

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