Capacity Development and Transforming Practice

Since 2016, at Transformative Solutions, we have been working with Caribou Space on the UK Space Agency’s International Partnerships Programme (IPP) to provide specialist M&E including one-to-one advice and training to 30+ projects on developing and implementing M&E systems for each individual project, and conducting programme level processes for effective impact reporting.

At the end of 2019, via our partnership with Caribou Space, we conducted a midline evaluation of progress made across the project portfolio to date, and documented substantial learning about how to improve the implementation of the programme in the future. This post reflects on key themes highlighted by the midline evaluation, previously shared with grantees and in the IPP Midline Evaluation.

Capacity Development for Greater Impact

The importance of capacity development cannot be stressed enough. It is a vital step in helping end users to understand the potential and uses of satellite enabled solutions, why a particular service is necessary, and why this is an efficient way to solve their problems. At a technical level, it allows in-country stakeholders to use the solutions developed independently and efficiently. In-country partners are potentially able to maintain and even further develop tools to meet their own needs in a self-sufficient manner with the right type of capacity development.

At midline, IPP had trained approximately 2,600 individuals in partner countries on the use of satellite enabled solutions. Almost one-third of these were estimated to be women. It had also provided funding for three PhD student placements and engaged 10 undergraduate students in research activities.

However, there are several areas that were highlighted, where IPP projects could improve their practice around capacity development.

Assessing Capacity and New Approaches to Transferring Skills

Additionally, some projects underestimated capacity development and planned activities around limited methodologies of formal training, rather than exploring alternative capacity development and skill transfer approaches, or considering multi-directional capacity development plans that acknowledge skill development on the part of UK partners.

Several of IPP’s 14 multi-country projects included South-South learning activities. These projects arranged exchanges, learning events, secondments and communities of practice between partners in developing countries with a significant degree of satisfaction and success from the perspective of the partners.

Transforming Capacity into Practice

While IPP valued capacity development, projects must also integrate their systems into end user organisations’ operations. Organisational adaptation is usually beyond a project’s control and falls to end users, but it’s vital for lasting impact. Transitioning pilot projects from trials to daily operations has long been a challenge for the development sector and IPP was not unique in this regard. Influencing behaviour change is a complex, non-technical task for UK partners.

Developing Capacity Development Plans

To address these, and other issues around capacity development, IPP recommended that projects create comprehensive capacity development plans that assess baseline skills and knowledge, plans for skill transfer, and wider embedding in processes and systems that enables end users to make more sustainable use of the tools provided by projects.

 For more insights see the IPP Midline Evaluation Case Study (2019)  and the IPP Three Year Review (2018).

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