Expenditures on capacity strengthening in international development are substantial yet the methods for evaluating the impacts of these investments are comparatively rudimentary. Papers are welcomed that explore new approaches in measuring the impacts of capacity strengthening projects/programmes.
Capacity strengthening features in the programming of a broad range of development actors, from governments, to aid agencies to NGOs, and across a wide share of sectors. Moreover capacity strengthening activities represent a substantial share of international development spending, with Denney et al 2017 estimating that may equate to a quarter of all aid. However, as the burden on international development programmes and projects to demonstrate results has grown, and evaluation methods have become increasingly robust, assessments of the impact of capacity strengthening have struggled to keep up. The methods for evaluating the impacts of capacity strengthening are rudimentary relative to other types of development spend. While there are major challenges to establishing control groups and counterfactuals in impact assessments of capacity strengthening activities, there has been substantial growth in other methods for understanding impact where control groups are not achievable - including, for example, outcome mapping techniques, theory-based evaluation and greater focus on the politics and power relations that underpin the success and failure of programmes. This panel welcomes presentations and contributions from both researchers and practitioners that detail experiences developing and using robust and innovative ways to measure the impacts of capacity strengthening projects and programmes.